Platysace (Apiaceae) of south-western Australia: silent story tellers of an ancient human landscape

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High gene flow and a population structure corresponding to human rather than geographical drivers are likely to be genetic patterns of human-dispersed plant taxa. We examined variation in geographical structure and gene flow estimates based on three non-coding regions of plastid DNA in three south-west Australian members of the Platysace genus to identify whether a human influence on dispersion of utilized taxa was detectable. Edible tubers of Platysace deflexa and Platysace trachymenioides have been harvested historically by Noongar traditional owners, whereas Platysace effusa has no known cultural significance. We found differences between utilized and non-utilized taxa, particularly when considered against the generally complex phylogeographical patterning in south-west Australian plant taxa. Platysace effusa showed a pattern of high population divergence, low gene flow and multiple refugia, consistent with a long evolutionary history, past climatic oscillations and persistence in a highly fragmented landscape. In contrast, higher gene flow estimates, less divergence between populations and common haplotypes in P. deflexa and in P. trachymenioides over the south-eastern part of its range are consistent with anthropogenic influences. This study contributes to the understanding of human influences on south-west Australian plant taxa that have been present since the late Pleistocene, but to date have received little scientific attention. © 2020 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2020


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