Unmasking cryptic biodiversity in polyploids

Up to one-quarter of flowering plant species may have escaped recognition due to processes such as autopolyploidy-whole genome duplication events where polyploids may be morphologically identical to their diploid progenitors. Mairal et al. combine macroevolutionary, microevolutionary and niche modelling tools to disentangle the origin and demographic history of the polyploid complex of Aster amellus (Asteraceae).

Aster amellus
Aster amellus distribution.

They demonstrate that diploid and hexaploid A. amellus may be considered as two independent lineages at the onset of their diversification, with separate niches and different evolutionary histories. The considerable cryptic diversity of polyploid taxa should be thus further evaluated in order to obtain a full picture of global angiosperm biodiversity.

Further reading

Mairal, M., Šurinová, M., Castro, S., & Münzbergová, Z. (2018). Unmasking cryptic biodiversity in polyploids: origin and diversification of Aster amellus aggregate. Annals of Botany. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcy149