Distribution of living Cupressaceae reflects the breakup of Pangea

Kangshan Mao, Richard Milne, Libing Zhang, Yanling Peng, Jianquan Liu, Philip Thomas, Robert Mill, Susanne Renner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Most extant genus-level radiations in gymnosperms are of Oligocene age or younger, reflecting widespread extinction during climate cooling at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary [∼23 million years ago (Ma)]. Recent biogeographic studies have revealed many instances of long-distance dispersal in gymnosperms as well as in angiosperms. Acting together, extinction and long-distance dispersal are likely to erase historical biogeographic signals. Notwithstanding this problem, we show that phylogenetic relationships in the gymnosperm family Cupressaceae (162 species, 32 genera) exhibit patterns expected from the Jurassic/Cretaceous breakup of Pangea. A phylogeny was gener- ated for 122 representatives covering all genera, using up to 10,000 nucleotides of plastid, mitochondrial, and nuclear sequence per species. Relying on 16 fossil calibration points and three molecular dating methods, we show that Cupressaceae originated during the Triassic, when Pangea was intact. Vicariance between the two sub- families, the Laurasian Cupressoideae and the Gondwanan Callitroi- deae, occurred around 153 Ma (124–183 Ma), when Gondwana and Laurasia were separating. Three further intercontinental disjunctions involving the Northern and Southern Hemisphere are coincidental with or immediately followed the breakup of Pangea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7793-7798
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Issue number20
Early online date1 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Pangea Break-up
  • Molecular Dating
  • Gymnosperms
  • ancestral areas reconstruction
  • molecular clock


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