March 13 2012

12:00 LSB 2320

Chelsea Specht
Dept of Plant & Microbial Biology, UC Berkeley

Emerging complexity in the tropical gingers (Zingiberales): evolution of flower form and function


The evolutionary history of plants is characterized by the continuous origin of morphological novelties that generate an astounding diversity of species. Our research focuses on investigating the genetic and genomic processes that drive plant diversification, particularly relating to the evolution of innovations in plant form and function. We combine field studies, developmental biology, comparative morphology, phylogenetic systematics, and evolutionary genetics and genomics and use a clade-based approach to understand the evolution of floral form across the tropical gingers (Zingiberales). Several significant changes in floral morphology have occurred throughout the evolution of the Zingiberales flower. Of particular relevance to the evolution of pollination syndromes are the derivation of a well-differentiated perianth, the development of petaloid staminodes, and the fusion of staminodes to form the staminodial labellum that dominates the floral display. I will discuss our current progress and future efforts to characterize the genetic pathways underlying homeotic changes in floral structure and the role these changes may play in driving shifts in rates of diversification. In addition, I will discuss our broader work in understanding patterns of plant evolution across monocots using phylogenetic, phylogeographic and paleobotanical data.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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