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Phylogeny and biogeography of the hollies (Ilex L., Aquifoliaceae)

Cite this dataset

Yao, Xin et al. (2020). Phylogeny and biogeography of the hollies (Ilex L., Aquifoliaceae) [Dataset]. Dryad.


The holly genus, Ilex L., in the monogeneric Aquifoliaceae, is the largest woody dioecious genus (>664 spp.), with a near‐cosmopolitan distribution in mesic environments. We constructed a phylogeny based on two nuclear genes, representing 177 species spread across the geographical range, and dated using macrofossil records. The five main clades had a common ancestor in the early Eocene, much earlier than previously suggested. Ilex originated in subtropical Asia and extant clades colonized South America by 30 Ma, North America by 23 Ma, Australia by 8 Ma, Europe by 6 Ma, and Africa by 4 Ma. South and North America were colonized multiple times. Ilex also reached Hawaii (10 Ma) and other oceanic islands. Macrofossil and pollen records show the genus has tracked mesic climates through time and space, and had a wider distribution before late Miocene global cooling. Our phylogeny provides a framework for studies in comparative ecology and evolution.


The chronogram we reconstructed in the paper, which based on two nuclear markers (ITS and nepGS) of 177 identified Ilex species and Bayesain Inference method. 


Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: Y9XB071B01

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 41901067

Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: 2017XTBG‐T03

Organization Department of the Central Committee of the CPC, Award: WQ20110491035