Phylogenetic position of the disjunct species Musa ornata (Musaceae): first approach to understand its distribution


Musa L. commonly known as the banana group is one of the most important and oldest food crops of humankind. Among the wild relatives with ornamental interest in the genus, Musa ornata Roxb. shows a disjunct distribution between Asia and North America (Mexico). The wild occurrence of this species in Mexico has led to speculation about the evolutionary relationships with its Asian relatives. This study examined the phylogenetic relationships between intercontinental specimens of this species and, based on registered evidence, explored the more likely hypothesis about the origins of its distribution. The phylogeny of intercontinental specimens, along with other representatives of the same genus, was carried out using three molecular markers (ITS, trnL-F, and atpB-rbcL) and applying three phylogenetic reconstruction methods: maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian inference. The genetic analysis of the combined dataset grouped together all the Mexican and most Asian specimens, but the monophyly of the species was not supported. The relationships suggest that Mexican populations may have originated from an Asian invasion. However, several studies and historical documents suggest the presence of Musa in America long before the arrival of Europeans. Based on its current distribution, phylogenetic evidence, and fossil record, this species’ disjunct distribution could be explained in terms of an ancestral distribution range that encompassed America and Asia, followed by its subsequent restriction to the Old World and a secondary dispersal by humans. However, further studies are necessary to shed more light on the origins of this disjunct distribution.