The evolution of the Aristolochia pallida complex (Aristolochiaceae) challenges traditional taxonomy and reflects large-scale glacial refugia in the Mediterranean

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Cornelia Krause - (Autor:in)
  • Birgit Oelschlaegel - (Autor:in)
  • Hafez Mahfoud - , Professur für Botanik (Autor:in)
  • Dominik Frank - (Autor:in)
  • Gerard Lecocq - (Autor:in)
  • Lulezim Shuka - (Autor:in)
  • Christoph Neinhuis - , Professur für Botanik (Autor:in)
  • Pablo Vargas - (Autor:in)
  • Aycan Tosunoglu - (Autor:in)
  • Mike Thiv - (Autor:in)
  • Stefan Wanke - , Professur für Botanik (Autor:in)


The taxonomy of the Mediterranean Aristolochia pallida complex has been under debate since several decades with the following species currently recognized: A. pallida, A. lutea, A. nardiana, A. microstoma, A. merxmuelleri, A. croatica, and A. castellana. These taxa are distributed from Iberia to Turkey. To reconstruct phylogenetic and biogeographic patterns, we employed cpDNA sequence variation using both noncoding (intron and spacer) and protein-coding regions (i.e., trnK intron, matK gene, and trnK-psbA spacer). Our results show that the morphology-based traditional taxonomy was not corroborated by our phylogenetic analyses. Aristolochia pallida, A. lutea, A. nardiana, and A. microstoma were not monophyletic. Instead, strong geographic signals were detected. Two major clades, one exclusively occurring in Greece and a second one of pan-Mediterranean distribution, were found. Several subclades distributed in Greece, NW Turkey, Italy, as well as amphi-Adriatic subclades, and a subgroup of southern France and Spain, were revealed. The distribution areas of these groups are in close vicinity to hypothesized glacial refugia areas in the Mediterranean. According to molecular clock analyses the diversification of this complex started around 3–3.3 my, before the onset of glaciation cycles, and the further evolution of and within major lineages falls into the Pleistocene. Based on these data, we conclude that the Aristolochia pallida alliance survived in different Mediterranean refugia rarely with low, but often with a high potential for range extension, and a high degree of morphological diversity.


FachzeitschriftEcology and evolution
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Apr. 2022

Externe IDs

Scopus 85128858701



  • Aristolochia pallida group, biogeography, Mediterranean, phylogeny, taxonomy