The Iberian endemic species Ranunculus cabrerensis Rothm.: an intricate history in the Ranunculus parnassiifolius L. polyploid complex
cpDNA network, genome size, Iberian Peninsula, Polyploidy, Ranunculaceae, Taxonomy
The orophilous plant, Ranunculus parnassiifolius L., is a polyploid complex that is widespread throughout the southern European mountains, where at least five taxa have traditionally been recognized. The aim of this study was to test whether R. parnassiifolius subsp. cabrerensis should be treated as an independent species of the R. parnassiifolius polyploid complex and constitutes, therefore, an evolutionary line in itself. To disentangle its evolutionary history and taxonomy, we used genome size estimation based on flow cytometric measurements (FCM), multivariate morphometric analyses, polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphisms (PCR–RFLPs) and subsequent sequencing of cpDNA regions (trnS, trnR-atpA, atpH-atpI). This study provides molecular and morphological evidence for the recognition of R. cabrerensis at the species level, rather than as an intraspecific taxon of R. parnassiifolius. Furthermore, it is concluded that those plants previously known as R. parnassiifolius subsp. muniellensis should be systematized at the subspecies level as R. cabrerensis subsp. muniellensis. This contribution highlights the benefit of combining diverse approaches to obtain knowledge about relict populations and for the implementation of suitable conservation measures.