Inferring accurate biogeographic history of plant taxa with an East Asia (EA)-North America (NA) is usually hindered by conflicting phylogenies and a poor fossil record. The current distribution of Chamaecyparis (false cypress; Cupressaceae) with four species in EA, and one each in western and eastern NA, and its relatively rich fossil record, make it an excellent model for studying the EA-NA disjunction. Here we reconstruct phylogenomic relationships within Chamaecyparis using > 1400 homologous nuclear and 61 plastid genes. Our phylogenomic analyses using concatenated and coalescent approaches revealed strong cytonuclear discordance and conflicting topologies between nuclear gene trees. Incomplete lineage sorting (ILS) and hybridization are possible explanations of conflict; however, our coalescent analyses and simulations suggest that ILS is the major contributor to the observed phylogenetic discrepancies. Based on a well-resolved species tree and four fossil calibrations, the crown lineage of Chamaecyparis is estimated to have originated in the upper Cretaceous, followed by diversification events in the early and middle Paleogene. Ancestral area reconstructions suggest that Chamaecyparis had an ancestral range spanning both EA and NA. Fossil records further indicate that this genus is a relict of the “boreotropical” flora, and that local extinctions of European species were caused by global cooling. Overall, our results unravel a complex evolutionary history of a Paleogene relict conifer genus, which may have involved ILS, hybridization and the extinction of local species.
- cytonuclear discordance
- East Asia North America disjunction distribution
- incomplete lineage sorting