Betula mcallisteri sp. nov. (sect. Acuminatae, Betulaceae), a new diploid species overlooked in the wild and in cultivation, and its relation to the widespread B. luminifera
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AbstractTaxa are traditionally identified using morphological proxies for groups of evolutionarily isolated populations. These proxies are common characters deemed by taxonomists as significant. However, there is no general rule on which character or sets of characters are appropriate to circumscribe taxa, leading to discussions and uncertainty. Birch species are notoriously hard to identify due to strong morphological variability and factors such as hybridization and the existence of several ploidy levels. Here, we present evidence for an evolutionarily isolated line of birches from China that are not distinguishable by traditionally assumed taxon recognition proxies, such as fruit or leaf characters. We have discovered that some wild material in China and some cultivated in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, formerly recognized as Betula luminifera, differ from other individuals by having a peeling bark and a lack of cambial fragrance. We use restriction site-associated DNA sequencing and flow cytometry to study the evolutionary status of the unidentified Betula samples to assess the extent of hybridization between the unidentified Betula samples and typical B. luminifera in natural populations. Molecular analyses show the unidentified Betula samples as a distinct lineage and reveal very little genetic admixture between the unidentified samples and B. luminifera. This may also be facilitated by the finding that B. luminifera is tetraploid, while the unidentified samples turned out to be diploid. We therefore conclude that the samples represent a yet unrecognized species, which is here described as Betula mcallisteri.
CitationZhang H, Ding J, Holstein N and Wang N (2023) Betula mcallisteri sp. nov. (sect. Acuminatae, Betulaceae), a new diploid species overlooked in the wild and in cultivation, and its relation to the widespread B. luminifera. Front. Plant Sci. 14:1113274. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2023.1113274
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Item DescriptionCopyright © 2023 Zhang, Ding, Holstein and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. The attached file is the published version of the article.