Phylogeny, biogeography, and rates of diversification of New World Astragalus (Leguminosae) with an emphasis on South American radiations

Rosa A. Scherson, Rodrigo Vidal, Michael J. Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


This study uses phylogenetic relationships of New World representatives of the species-rich genus Astragalus (Leguminosae; Papilionoideae) to follow up on recent evidence pointing to rapid and recent plant diversification patterns in the Andes. Bayesian and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses were done using nuclear rDNA ITS and chloroplast spacers trnD-trnT and trnfM-trnS1, either separately or in combination. The effect of using partitioned vs. nonpartitioned analyses in a Bayesian approach was evaluated. Highest resolution was obtained when the data were combined in partitioned or nonpartitioned Bayesian analyses. All phylogenies support two clades of South American species nested within the North American species, implying two separate invasions from North to South America. These two clades correspond to the original morphological classification of lohnston (1947 Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 28: 336-409). The mean ages of the South American clades were very recent but still significantly different (1.89 and 0.98 Ma). Upper and lower bounds on rates of diversification varied between 2.01 and 0.65 species/Ma for the older clade and 2.06 and 1.24 species/Ma for the younger clade. Even the lower bounds are still very high, reasserting Neo-Astragalus in the growing list of recent rapid radiations of plants, especially in areas with a high physiographic diversity, such as the Andes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1039
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Astragalus
  • Biogeography
  • Chloroplast spacers
  • Internal transcribed spacer
  • Leguminosae
  • Phylogeny
  • Rates of diversification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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