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Evolution of Veronica (Plantaginaceae) on the Balkan Peninsula

PHYTOLOGIA BALCANICA 01/2006; 12:231-244.

ABSTRACT With more than 6500 species of native seed plants on the Balkans and almost a third of them endemic, the Balkan Peninsula is known to be a place for diversification and formation of new species and an important refugium during the Ice Ages. One plant group, which exemplifies this well, is the genus Veronica (Plantaginaceae, formerly Scrophulariaceae). Four groups from this genus (V. subg. Stenocarpon; V. subg. Chamaedrys; V. subg. Pseudolysimachium, V. alpina-complex) display putative tertiary relict species, speciation within Pleistocene refugia and Pleistocene or Holocene speciation by hybridization and polyploidization on the Balkan Peninsula. I here review earlier published results for these groups and present new data. DNA sequence analyses from the nuclear ribosomal DNA (ITS) and plastid genome (trnLF region) were examined so as to shed more light on the relationship of the species from the Balkans. In addition, AFLP fingerprints were used to study V. subg. Pseudolysimachium, which exhibits limited DNA sequence divergence. Results support the distinctiveness of taxa from the Balkans as a divergent group of plants on the intra-and interspecific level. Limited resolution and support of the results further demonstrate the need for another marker system to continue the study of evolution of these plants of the Balkan Peninsula.

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