The early evolution of the mega-diverse genus Begonia (Begoniaceae) inferred from organelle DNA phylogenies

William P. Goodall-Copestake, Sílvia Pérez-Espona, David J. Harris, Peter M. Hollingsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Begonia L. is one of the largest flowering plant genera, a ubiquitous component of many tropical forests and an economically important ornamental plant. In the present study, we address the early evolution of Begonia by generating molecular phylogenies from approximately 7000 bases of chloroplast DNA and approximately 6000 bases of mitochondrial DNA for each of 30 exemplar Begonia species. Broadscale biogeographic patterns found in the phylogenies, together with previously estimated divergence dates, indicated that extant Begonia lineages first diversified in Africa and then subsequently in America and Asia. The phylogenies also revealed that the closest African relatives of the American and Asian Begonia are seasonally‐adapted species. Moderate to strong incongruence between the phylogenies suggested that they differ genealogically. These differences could have been the result of either interspecific hybridization and/or incomplete lineage sorting. The results obtained in the present study provide a much needed genus‐wide framework for future evolutionary studies of this exceptionally diverse tropical genus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-250
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Early online date1 Sept 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • intercontinental dispersal
  • phylogenic inconguence
  • species-rich genera
  • tropical biodiversity


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