The phylogenetic diversity of true morels (Morchella) in China was estimated by initially analyzing nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA sequences from 361 specimens collected in 21 provinces during the 2003-2011 growing seasons, together with six collections obtained on loan from three Chinese herbaria. Based on the results of this preliminary screen, 40 Esculenta Clade (yellow morels) and 30 Elata Clade (black morels) were chosen to represent the full range of phylogenetic diversity sampled. To investigate their species limits, we generated DNA sequences from portions of three protein-coding genes (RPB1, RPB2 and EF-1α) and domains D1 and D2 of the nuclear large subunit (LSU) rDNA for all 70 collections. To fully assess evolutionary relationships, previously published multilocus DNA sequence data representing all known Morchella species was included in this study. Phylogenetic analyses employing maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood frameworks resolved 30 species in China compared with 22 in Europe and 19 within North America. Eleven novel phylogenetically distinct species were discovered in China, including two species within the Elata Clade and nine within the Esculenta Clade. Of the 30 species in China, 20 appear to be endemic, nine were also represented in Europe, and four putatively fire-adapted species have disjunct distributions in China, Europe and western North America. Although the diversification time estimates place the Esculenta Clade in China as early as the late Cretaceous and the Elata Clade by the early Oligocene, 27 of the 30 species evolved between the middle Miocene 12Mya and present.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.