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The Mediterranean Basin occupies only 1.6% of the Earth’s surface but holds 10% of its plant diversity, with more than 25,000 species, half of which are endemics. This region is a major hot spot of biodiversity, with unique spatial patterns shaped by a complex climatic and geological history, in addition to ...

The Mediterranean Basin occupies only 1.6% of the Earth’s surface but holds 10% of its plant diversity, with more than 25,000 species, half of which are endemics. This region is a major hot spot of biodiversity, with unique spatial patterns shaped by a complex climatic and geological history, in addition to biotic interactions, habitat heterogeneity, islands isolation, and anthropogenic pressure.

Located between Africa and Eurasia, the Basin represents a sink of diversity from disparate areas and a cradle of in situ diversification. The Messinian Salinity Crisis (6 to 5.3 Ma) — one of the most dramatic geological events that caused the uneven desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea — has been used to explain biogeographic patterns. Gradual cooling and aridification during the Miocene eventually led to the development of the Mediterranean climate (3.2-2.8 Ma) and is considered a major driver for diversification of Mediterranean plant lineages. More recently, Pleistocene climatic oscillations triggered the migrations of biota to major refugia such as the Iberian, Apennine, and Balkan Peninsulas, resulting in secondary contact of previously isolated lineages, hybridization, and speciation.

Many studies to date have discussed the origins and evolution of plant lineages in the Mediterranean region in the context of character evolution, periods of radiation and diversification, responses to geoclimatic events, and phylogeographic patterns. They highlight numerous cases of hybridization, introgression, and polyploidy, often focusing on the evolution of endemics in archipelagoes composed primarily of continental islands. Yet, remarkably, the drivers of diversification in the region are still poorly understood, and both biotic and abiotic factors may have affected lineages in very different ways.

This Research Topic aims to shed light on different diversification patterns and processes in the Mediterranean Basin. Authors should consider how their focal taxon or process informs understanding of the factors contributing to high species diversity and drivers of diversification in the Mediterranean Basin. For example, what are the roles of polyploidy and/or hybridization? How do rates of diversification vary across the Basin? How do evolutionary dynamics differ between the eastern and western Basin? How will climate change shape the flora of the Mediterranean region?

This is a collection of studies that synthesize our current knowledge of the dynamics in the region and represents the foundation for setting new premises and goals for future research. We encourage submission of Original Research, Perspectives, and Review articles on the following topics:

• Phylogeny and systematics
• Biogeography and phylogeography
• Phylodiversity and niche evolution
• Trait evolution and diversification analysis
• Population genetics
• Hybridization, introgression, and polyploidy
• Reproductive isolation and other speciation mechanisms
• Evolution on islands and/or archipelagos
• Cytogenetics

Keywords: Mediterranean Basin, Systematics and Evolution, Biogeography and Phylogeography, Speciation, Population Dynamics, Hybridization, Polyploidy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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