Journal of Biogeography vol:39 issue:7 pages:1235-1250
Aim The family Rutaceae (rue family) is the largest within the eudicot order Sapindales and is distributed mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions of both the New World and the Old World, with a few genera in temperate zones. The main objective of this study is to present molecular dating and biogeographical analyses of the subfamily Spathelioideae, the earliest branching clade (which includes eight extant genera), to interpret the temporal and spatial origins of this group, ascertaining possible vicariant patterns and dispersal routes and inferring diversification rates through time. Location Pantropics. Methods A dataset comprising a complete taxon sampling at generic level (83.3% at species level) of Spathelioideae was used for a Bayesian molecular dating analysis (beast). Four fossil calibration points and an age constraint for Sapindales were applied. An ancestral area reconstruction analysis utilizing the dispersalextinctioncladogenesis model and diversification rate analyses was conducted. Results Dating analyses indicate that Rutaceae and Spathelioideae are probably of Late Cretaceous origin, after which Spathelioideae split into a Neotropical and a Palaeotropical lineage. The Palaeotropical taxa have their origin inferred in Africa, with postulated dispersal events to the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands, Madagascar and Southeast Asia. The lineages within Spathelioideae evolved at a relatively constant diversification rate. However, abrupt changes in diversification rates are inferred from the beginning of the Miocene and during the Pliocene/Pleistocene. Main conclusions The geographical origin of Spathelioideae probably lies in Africa. The existence of a Neotropical lineage may be the result of a dispersal event at a time in the Late Cretaceous when South America and Africa were still quite close to each other (assuming that our age estimates are close to the actual ages), or by Gondwanan vicariance (assuming that our age estimates provide minimal ages only). Separation of land masses caused by sea level changes during the Pliocene and Pleistocene may have been triggers for speciation in the Caribbean genus Spathelia.