Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Evolution of nickel hyperaccumulation by Stackhousia tryonii (Celastraceae), a serpentinite-endemic plant from Queensland, Australia

Dylan O. Burge A C and W. R. Barker B

A Duke University, Department of Biology, Box 90338, Durham, North Carolina, 27708, USA.

B State Herbarium of South Australia, Hackney Road, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia and Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: dylan.o.burge@gmail.com

Australian Systematic Botany 23(6) 415-430 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SB10029
Submitted: 9 July 2010  Accepted: 5 November 2010   Published: 23 December 2010

Abstract

To elucidate the evolutionary origin of nickel (Ni) hyperaccumulation by the Australian serpentinite-endemic plant Stackhousia tryonii Bailey, phylogenetic analyses of chloroplast and nuclear DNA for Stackhousia and its close relatives were combined with assays of plant-tissue Ni concentrations. Thirty-five plants from 20 taxa were analysed by sequencing nuclear rDNA (ITS) and the plastid trnLF region. Phylogenetic analysis of sequence data was conducted under maximum parsimony and Bayesian search criteria. In all, 100 plants from 39 taxa, including all 33 Stackhousia species, were analysed for Ni concentration by radial inductively coupled plasma atomic-emission spectrometry (ICP–AES). In phylogenetic analyses, S. tryonii was monophyletic, nested within a monophyletic Stackhousia. Only S. tryonii contained concentrations of Ni above the hyperaccumulation threshold (0.1%; 1000 ppm), containing between 0.25% (2500 ppm) and 4.1% (41 000 ppm) Ni by dry weight. Nickel-hyperaccumulation ability appears to have been acquired once during diversification of Stackhousia, by S. tryonii.


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