The sequence variation within the genus Letharia in the Caucasus and Morocco was investigated. Twelve thalli from each area were sequenced at eight different loci. Phylogenetic analysis of the multiple loci data revealed the cryptic species Letharia ‘lupina’ in Morocco, previously known only from western North America. The two cryptic species L. vulpina and L. ‘lupina’ locally share the same ecology but are genetically isolated from each other. In the Caucasus, five different haplotypes of L. vulpina were detected, and in Morocco four L. vulpina haplotypes and six L. ‘lupina’ haplotypes were found. For L. vulpina, allelic differences were detected at five of the eight loci in the Caucasus and Morocco. The populations of L. vulpina in both the Caucasus and Morocco contain more genetic variation than those previously investigated in Europe, which indicates that the Caucasus and Morocco acted as refugia during quaternary glaciations, and that central and northern Europe may have been recolonised from one or both of these areas.
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