Parallel evolution and cryptic diversification in a common and widespread Amazonian tree, Protium subserratum
The lowland Amazon rainforest houses some of the greatest tree diversity on Earth. While the vast majority of these species are rare, a small number are common and widespread and thus considered to play a disproportionate role in many of the global ecosystem services provided by the Amazon. However, the extent to which dominant Amazonian tree species actually include multiple clades, each on their own unique evolutionary trajectory, is unknown. Here we investigate the extent to which lineage divergence may be occurring within Protium subserratum (Burseraceae), a common and widespread tree species that is monophyletic with populations exhibiting genotypic and phenotypic differences associated with soil and geography. Utilizing a combination of phylogenomic and population genomic methods with sampling from across the range, we found that P. subserratum contains at least eight distinct clades. Specialization onto white-sand soils has evolved independently at least twice within the species; however, phenotype is not correlated with soil type. Finally, cryptic diversity at the base of the Andes is associated with elevational shifts. Together these results lend support to the hypothesis that common and widespread Amazon tree species may not represent evolutionary cohesive units. Instead, these dominant species may more commonly represent species complexes, undergoing evolutionary transitions on a trajectory to become multiple range-restricted, specialist species.
National Science Foundation
Amazon, ecological divergence, hyperdominance, phylogeography, species complex, white-sand soils
Tracy M. Misiewicz, Tracey Simmons, Benjamin E. Carter, Paul V.A. Fine, and Abigail J. Moore. "Parallel evolution and cryptic diversification in a common and widespread Amazonian tree, Protium subserratum" Molecular Ecology (2023): 2301-2319. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16889