Diversification in the Andes: Age and origins of South American Heliotropium lineages (Heliotropiaceae, Boraginales)
Andean orogeny, Boraginaceae, Neotropics, Tournefortia
The uplift of the Andes was a major factor for plant diversification in South America and had significant effects on the climatic patterns at the continental scale. It was crucial for the formation of the arid environments in south-eastern and western South America. However, both the timing of the major stages of the Andean uplift and the onset of aridity in western South America remain controversial. In this paper we examine the hypothesis that the Andean South American groups of Heliotropium originated and diversified in response to Andean orogeny during the late Miocene and a the subsequent development of aridity. To this end, we estimate divergence times and likely biogeographical origins of the major clades in the phylogeny of Heliotropium, using both Bayesian and likelihood methods. Divergence times of all Andean clades in Heliotropium are estimated to be of late Miocene or Pliocene ages. At least three independent Andean diversification events can be recognized within Heliotropium. Timing of the diversification in the Andean lineages Heliotropium sects.Heliothamnus, Cochranea, Heliotrophytum, Hypsogenia, Plagiomeris, Platygyne clearly correspond to a rapid, late Miocene uplift of the Andes and a Pliocene development of arid environments in South America.