Genetic relationships among American species of the genus Prosopis (Mimosoideae, Leguminosae) inferred from ITS sequences: evidence for long-distance dispersal
The genus Prosopis includes 44 species and has a pseudoamphitropical, disjunct distribution. We aimed to determine whether American Prosopis sections arose in North or South America, and to explain the current distribution of their species on the basis of their genetic relationships. Location
South-western USA, Mexico, Caribbean Antilles, Peru–Ecuador, central and northern Argentina, south-western Argentina (Patagonia) and Cuyo, south-western Asia and northern Africa. Methods
Internal transcribed spacer fragments from 21 species of Prosopis were sequenced and the data were used to analyse the phylogenetic relationships using Microlobius and Mimosa as outgroups. Genetic distances were calculated to estimate the degree of divergence. Dispersal–vicariance (DIVA) analysis was conducted to help understand the biogeographical history of the genus. Main conclusions
The sections Strombocarpa and Algarobia are not monophyletic. Prosopis argentina (section Monilicarpa) and the species of Algarobia are included in single clade. The phylogeny, DIVA analysis, and the pattern of genetic distances indicate that the ancestral area for the American species was wide, from south-western USA to Central and northern Argentina. Successive vicariance events split this area, and long-distance dispersal episodes (perhaps mediated by birds) led to recolonizations from North to South America, and vice versa.