The phylogeny and evolution of epiphytism in three moss families Meteoriaceae, Brachytheciaceae, and Lembophyllaceae

Huttunen S, Ignatov MS, Müller KF, Quandt D

Research article (book contribution)


The phylogeny of three pleurocarpous moss families, Meteoriaceae, Brachytheciaceae, and Lembophyllaceae, was studied using both morphology and molecular data. Phylogenetic analyses using different approaches revealed very similar, well-resolved topologies wherein the Meteoriaceae and Brachytheciaceae are monophyletic and sister to each other. The Lembophyllaceae were found not to be closely related to those families, but to the Neckeraceae. Results suggest several independent origins of epiphytism within these families. Character states that are commonly regarded as adaptations to epiphytism are concentrated on those clades with epiphytic species. The evolution of certain characters, such as peristomes that open under humid conditions, seta length, and spore size, is clearly correlated with an epiphytic habit. In phylogenetic analyses, this kind of morphological character could be suspected to lead to biased results if species are grouped based on shared ecological conditions instead of common ancestry. Our study revealed that despite correlated evolution with epiphytism, these characters do not significantly deteriorate the robustness of the hypotheses on relationships between families. However, there may be negative effects on the phylogenetic reconstruction by increasing homoplasy, as well as incongruence between data partitions, and decreasing the phylogenetic structure obtained with morphological data.

Details zur Publikation

Publisher: Goffinet B, Hollowell V, Magill R
Book title: Molecular Systematics of Bryophytes
Pages: 37
Release year: 2004
Publishing company: Missouri Botanical Garden Press
Event: St. Louis