Two extinct diploid progenitors were involved in allopolyploid formation in the Hordeum murinum (Poaceae: Triticeae) taxon complex.
Wall barley (Hordeum murinum) occurs with three subspecies, naturally distributed from southern Central Asia through the Mediterranean region to northwestern Europe, but now is an invasive weed in many parts of the world. Subspecies glaucum is diploid, while subspp. murinum and leporinum are tetraploids, the latter also occurring with a hexaploid cytotype. Earlier analyses were inconclusive regarding auto- or allopolyploid origins of subspp. murinum and leporinum. We analyzed the phylogeny of the taxon group using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP), sequences of cloned PCR products of the nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer region (ITS), a part of the nuclear single-copy gene topoisomerase 6 (Topo6) spanning two introns, and sequences of the chloroplast trnL-F region together with length variation at six chloroplast microsatellite loci, including multiple individuals of each subspecies and cytotype, covering the entire natural distribution area of the species. Phylogenetic analyses with all used markers differentiate diploid and polyploids. Sequences of both nuclear regions indicated that diploid subsp. glaucum was involved in tetraploid formation together with a now extinct species belonging to the same Hordeum genome group (Xu). Furthermore, AFLP and ITS analyses suggest that a third, though closely related extinct taxon contributed to hexaploid formation. No method was able to discern tetraploid subspp. murinum and leporinum, which we attribute to the young age of subsp. murinum. None of the used molecular markers revealed a strong geographic pattern of genetic variation that would allow comprehensive phylogeographic analysis, most probably due to the very effective seed dispersal of the taxa.