Origin and biogeography of Aesculus L. (Hippocastanaceae): A molecular phylogenetic perspective

Qiu Yun Xiang, Daniel J. Crawford, Andrea D. Wolfe, Yan Cheng Tang, Claude W. DePamphilis

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97 Scopus citations


Sequences of chloroplast gene matK and internal transcribed spacers of nuclear ribosomal RNA genes were used for phylogenetic analyses of Aesculus, a genus currently distributed in eastern Asia, eastern and western North America, and southeastern Europe. Phylogenetic relationships inferred from these molecular data are highly correlated with the geographic distributions of species. The identified lineages closely correspond to the five sections previously recognized on the basis of morphology. Ancestral character-state reconstruction, a molecular clock, and fossil evidence were used to infer the origin and biogeographic history of the genus within a phylogenetic framework. Based on the molecular phylogenetic reconstruction of the genus, sequence divergence, and paleontological evidence, we infer that the genus originated during the transition from the Cretaceous to the Tertiary (~65 M.Y.B.P) at a high latitude in eastern Asia and spread into North America and Europe as an element of the 'boreotropical flora'; the current disjunct distribution of the genus resulted from geological and climatic changes during the Tertiary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-997
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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