The morphologically variable moss Trichostomum brachydontium is very common in south and west Europe, particularly under Mediterranean and Atlantic climates. A morphological study was conducted alongside a molecular phylogenetic study based on nr ITS and cp rbcL regions in order to assess if T. brachydontium is an exceptionally polymorphic species as evidenced by the number of described infraspecific taxa from the last century or, alternatively, if it includes more than one species, and if so, to find the valid name for them. Phylogenetic analyses of both nuclear and chloroplast datasets show that there are four well-supported clades. While the ITS based tree is in good agreement with the morphological data, there are a few inconsistencies with reference to the rbcL tree; this may be explained by incomplete lineage sorting or by hybridization. The morphological survey revealed well-defined discriminate differences between the four phylogenetic lineages. The taxonomic conclusions include the recognition of four species: T. brachydontium s.s., T. herzogii (a new name proposed for var. cuspidatum), T. littorale and T. meridionale (a new name proposed for var. densum). Lectotypes are designated for T. brachydontium and T. littorale. Our results underline the ongoing need of integrative studies to examine further the underestimated diversity of the T. brachydontium complex in other regions.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.