Historical biogeography and phylogenetic relationships of the genus Chamaecyparis (Cupressaceae) inferred from chloroplast DNA polymorphism

W. P. Wang*, C. Y. Hwang, T. P. Lin, S. Y. Hwang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The genus Chamaecyparis comprises five species and one variety native to Taiwan, Japan, Canada, and USA, which demonstrates a classical eastern Asian, western North American, and eastern North American disjunct distributional pattern. The phylogenetic relationships of the species of Chamaecyparis were inferred by comparing 1130 bp of the combined data set of chloroplast trnV intron and petG-trnP intergenic spacer. The phylogenetic tree shows that Chamaecyparis nootkatensis (Cupressus nootkatensis or Xanthocyparis nootkatensis) is clearly diverged from other Chamaecyparis species. For Chamaecyparis species, C. thyoides is sister to C. formosensis and C. pisifera and these together form a monophyletic group. C. lawsoniana is sister to C. obtusa and C. taiwanensis; and these form another monophyletic group. Homogeneity in evolutionary rates was found among species in these two monophyletic groups. Results indicate the divergent evolution of C. taiwanensis and C. formosensis and molecular evidence in this investigation supports C. taiwanensis as a variety of C. obtusa. Utility of cpDNA intergenic spacer petG-trnP in Chamaecyparis is also discussed. Several biogeographical implications were inferred: (1) at least two divergence events have produced the eastern Asian, and both western and eastern North American disjunct distribution in Chamaecyparis; (2) intercontinental sister species pairs are found in Chamaecyparis; (3) cpDNA divergence between two intercontinental sister pairs of C. thyoides and C. pisifera, and C. lawsoniana and C. obtusa is 2.8% and 1.1%, which suggest an estimated divergence time of 14 and 5.5 million years ago during middle and late Miocene, respectively; (4) cpDNA divergence of two Asian Chamaecyparis groups between C. obtusa and C. taiwanensis, and between C. pisifera and C. formosensis is 0.25% and 0.57%, which suggest an estimated divergence time of 1.3 and 2.9 million years ago during Pleistocene and late Pliocene, respectively; these estimated divergence times suggest a relatively recent migration of Chamaecyparis to Taiwan from the Japanese Archipelago; (5) that climatic deterioration caused the disappearance of Chamaecyparis in continental Asia is probable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-28
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Systematics and Evolution
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Oct
Externally publishedYes


  • Chamaecyparis species
  • cpDNA
  • Historical biogeography
  • Phylogenetic relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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