Zhengyia shennongensis: A new bulbiliferous genus and species of the nettle family (Urticaceae) from central China exhibiting parallel evolution of the bulbil trait

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Abstract:

Zhengyia shennongensis is described here as a new genus and species of the nettle family (Urticaceae) from Hubei province, central China. The phylogenetic position of Z. shennongensis is determined using DNA sequences of nuclear ribosomal ITS and three plastid regions (rbcL, psbA-trnH, trnL-F). Zhengyia shennongensis is readily distinguished from the related genera Urtica, Hesperocnide, and Laportea in the tribe Urticeae by its seed (oblong-globose or subglobose and not compressed achenes, surface densely covered with nipple-shaped protuberances) and stipule morphology (large leaf-like stipules with auriculate and amplexicaulous base and united with stem). Phylogenetic evidence indicates that Zhengyia is a distinct group related to Urtica (including Hesperocnide) species and Laportea cuspidata in tribe Urticeae. The bulbiliferous species of the tribe (L. bulbifera, L. cuspidata, Z. shennongensis) do not form a clade. This result indicates that the bulbil trait evolved in parallel within Urticeae. Our findings highlight the importance of shady and moist habitats in promoting species diversification and the parallel evolution of morphological traits that are likely to be adaptive.

Keywords: BULBILS; CENTRAL CHINA; NEW GENUS AND SPECIES; PARALLEL EVOLUTION; URTICACEAE; URTICEAE; ZHENGYIA SHENNONGENSIS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, Yunnan, P.R. China, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, P.R. China, Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Utilization, Jishou University, College of Hunan Province, Jishou 416000, Hunan, P.R. China 2: Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, Yunnan, P.R. China 3: Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Utilization, Jishou University, College of Hunan Province, Jishou 416000, Hunan, P.R. China 4: Life Science School, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650031, Yunnan, P.R. China 5: Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, Yunnan, P.R. China;, Email: hsun@mail.kib.ac.cn

Publication date: February 20, 2013

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