The aim of this study was to characterize the molecular relationship, origin and historical biogeography of the species in important brown rot fungal genus Laetiporus from East Asia, Europe, Pan-America, Hawaii and South Africa. We used six genetic markers to estimate a genus-level phylogeny including (1) the internal transcribed spacer (ITS), (2) nuclear large subunit rDNA (nrLSU), (3) nuclear small subunit rDNA (nrSSU), (4) translation elongation factor 1-α (EF-1α), (5) DNA-directed RNA polymerase II subunit 2 (RPB2), and (6) mitochondrial small subunit rDNA (mtSSU).
Results of multi-locus phylogenetic analyses show clade support for at least seventeen species-level lineages including two new Laetiporus in China. Molecular dating using BEAST estimated the present crown group diverged approximately 20.16 million years ago (Mya) in the early Miocene. Biogeographic analyses using RASP indicated that Laetiporus most likely originated in temperate zones with East Asia and North America having the highest probability (48%) of being the ancestral area.
Four intercontinental dispersal routes and a possible concealed dispersal route were established for the first time.