Amphitropical disjunctions in new world menthinae: Three pliocene dispersals to South America following late miocene dispersal to North America from the old world

Bryan T. Drew, Sitong Liu, Jose M. Bonifacino, Kenneth J. Sytsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The subtribe Menthinae (Lamiaceae), with 35 genera and 750 species, is among the largest and most economically important subtribes within the mint family. Most genera of Menthinae are found exclusively in the New World, where the group has a virtually continuous distribution ranging from temperate North America to southern South America. In this study, we explored the presence, timing, and origin of amphitropical disjuncts within Menthinae. METHODS: Our analyses were based on a data set consisting of 89 taxa and the nuclear ribosomal DNA markers ITS and ETS. Phylogenetic relationships were determined under maximum likelihood and Bayesian criteria, divergence times were estimated with the program BEAST, and ancestral range estimated with BioGeoBEARS. KEY RESULTS: A North Atlantic Land Bridge migration event at about 10.6 Ma is inferred from western Eurasia to North America. New World Menthinae spread rapidly across North America, and then into Central and South America. Several of the large speciose genera are not monophyletic with nuclear rDNA, a finding mirrored with previous chloroplast DNA results. Three amphitropical disjunctions involving North and southern South America clades, one including a southeastern South American clade with several genera, were inferred to have occurred within the past 5 Myr. CONCLUSIONS: Although three New World Menthinae genera occur in both North and South America, none exhibit an amphitropical disjunction. However, three clades exhibit amphitropical disjunctions, all dating to the early Pliocene, and all involve jump dispersals to either southeastern or southwestern South America from southeastern North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1695-1707
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017



  • BioGeoBEARS
  • Biogeography
  • Disjunct
  • Jump dispersal
  • Lamiaceae
  • Mint family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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