Large-scale phylogeography of the disjunct Neotropical tree species Schizolobium parahyba (Fabaceae-Caesalpinioideae).Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Oct; 65(1):174-82.MP
Neotropical rainforests exhibit high levels of endemism and diversity. Although the evolutionary genetics of plant diversification has garnered increased interest, phylogeographic studies of widely distributed species remain scarce. Here we describe chloroplast and nuclear variation patterns in Schizolobium parahyba (Fabaceae), a widespread tree in Neotropical rainforests that harbor two varieties with a disjunct distribution. Chloroplast and nuclear sequence analyses yielded 21 and 4 haplotypes, respectively. Two genetic diversity centers that correlate with the two known varieties were identified: the Southeastern Atlantic forest and the Amazonian basin. In contrast, the populations from southern and northeastern Atlantic forests and Andean-Central American forests exhibited low levels of genetic diversity and divergent haplotypes, likely related to historical processes that impact the flora and fauna in these regions, such as a founder's effect after dispersion and demographic expansion. Phylogeographic and demographic patterns suggest that episodes of genetic isolation and dispersal events have shaped the evolutionary history for this species, and different patterns have guided the evolution of S. parahyba. Moreover, the results of this study suggest that the dry corridor formed by Cerrado and Caatinga ecoregions and the Andean uplift acted as barriers to this species' gene flow, a picture that may be generalized to most of the plant biodiversity tropical woodlands and forests. These results also reinforce the importance of evaluating multiple genetic markers for a more comprehensive understanding of population structure and history. Our results provide insight into the conservation efforts and ongoing work on the genetics of population divergence and speciation in these Neotropical rainforests.