ORIGIN OF THE SERPENTINE-ENDEMIC HERB LAYLA DISCOIDEA FROM THE WIDESPREAD L. LANDULOSA (COMPOSITAE)
Abstract Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear rDNA sequences uphold Gottlieb et al.'s hypothesis that Layia discoidea, a morphologically unusual, serpentine-endemic herb of narrow distribution in central California, “budded off” recently (less than one million years ago) from a nearby lineage of the widespread L. glandulosa, which occurs on sandy soils across much of far western North America. Although L. discoidea and L. glandulosa retain complete interfertility, nuclear rDNA data for the two species are almost free of evolutionary noise, without evidence of gene flow between them; allopatric divergence of L. discoidea cannot be ruled out. Molecular data are consistent with a hypothesis of accelerated morphological evolution of L. discoidea and Gottlieb et al.'s suggestion that the closest relatives of L. discoidea are populations of L. glandulosa with yellow, rather than white, ray corollas, in accord with Clausen, Keck, and Hiesey's evidence of a gene for yellow ray coloration in the rayless L. discoidea.