Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Pleistocene radiation of the serpentine-adapted genus Hesperolinon and other divergence times in Linaceae (Malpighiales).


Premise of the study

Hesperolinon (western flax; Linaceae) is endemic to the western United States, where it is notable for its high and geographically concentrated species diversity on serpentine-derived soils and for its use as a model system in disease ecology. We used a phylogenetic framework to test a long-standing hypothesis that Hesperolinon is a neoendemic radiation.


Five plastid and two ribosomal nuclear DNA gene regions were sampled from 105 populations of Hesperolinon, including all 13 recently recognized species across their known ranges. We used these data to generate population-level phylogenies of Hesperolinon. We also generated a robustly sampled chronogram of Linaceae using an eight-gene, 100-taxon supermatrix calibrated using fossil Linum pollen and a published chronogram of Malpighiales.

Key results

Most diversification in Hesperolinon has taken place in the past 1-2 million yr, much more recently than previous estimates. Only the earliest-diverging species, H. drymarioides, was resolved as a clade. Denser taxon and gene sampling generally support previously proposed relationships within Linaceae, but with more recent diversification of key clades.


Hesperolinon is an excellent example of edaphic neoendemism, in support of Raven and Axelrod's hypothesis for the genus. Dense population-level sampling reveals a complex of incipient species, with clades poorly aligned with traditional morphological circumscriptions, likely due in part to continued gene flow. The diversification of Linaceae is more recent than previously estimated, and other recent radiations (e.g., Hugonia) warrant further study.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View