Into and out of the tropics: global diversification patterns in a hyperdiverse clade of ectomycorrhizal fungi.Mol Ecol. 2016 01; 25(2):630-47.ME
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, symbiotic mutualists of many dominant tree and shrub species, exhibit a biogeographic pattern counter to the established latitudinal diversity gradient of most macroflora and fauna. However, an evolutionary basis for this pattern has not been explicitly tested in a diverse lineage. In this study, we reconstructed a mega-phylogeny of a cosmopolitan and hyperdiverse genus of ECM fungi, Russula, sampling from annotated collections and utilizing publically available sequences deposited in GenBank. Metadata from molecular operational taxonomic unit cluster sets were examined to infer the distribution and plant association of the genus. This allowed us to test for differences in patterns of diversification between tropical and extratropical taxa, as well as how their associations with different plant lineages may be a driver of diversification. Results show that Russula is most species-rich at temperate latitudes and ancestral state reconstruction shows that the genus initially diversified in temperate areas. Migration into and out of the tropics characterizes the early evolution of the genus, and these transitions have been frequent since this time. We propose the 'generalized diversification rate' hypothesis to explain the reversed latitudinal diversity gradient pattern in Russula as we detect a higher net diversification rate in extratropical lineages. Patterns of diversification with plant associates support host switching and host expansion as driving diversification, with a higher diversification rate in lineages associated with Pinaceae and frequent transitions to association with angiosperms.