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Molecular support for Pleistocene persistence of the continental Antarctic moss Bryum argenteum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2010

Simon F.K. Hills
Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology & Evolution, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Mark I. Stevens*
South Australian Museum, and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Chrissen E.C. Gemmill
Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3240, Hamilton, New Zealand
*corresponding author:


We examined sequence variation of ITS and phy2 for Bryum argenteum from Antarctica, sub-Antarctic, New Zealand and Australia to understand better taxonomic delimitations and resolve relationships between these geographic regions. Bryum argenteum has been recorded as two species, B. argenteum and B. subrotundifolium, in all four regions with the latter now referred to as B. argenteum var. muticum. We found disagreement between taxon delimitations (based on morphology) and molecular markers. All continental Antarctic specimens consistently formed a monophyletic sister group that consisted of both morphologically identified B. argenteum varieties, separate to all non-Antarctic specimens (also consisting of both varieties). We suggest, contrary to previous records, that all continental Antarctic (Victoria Land) populations are referable to B. argenteum var. muticum, while sub-Antarctic, Australian and New Zealand populations included here are B. argenteum var. argenteum. Additionally, since there was less genetic diversity within Victoria Land, Antarctica, than observed between non-Antarctic samples, we suggest that this is, in part, due to a potentially lower rate of DNA substitution and isolation in northern and southern refugia within Victoria Land since the Pleistocene.

Research Article
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2010

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