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Phylogenetic and evolutionary studies in the Ptychomniieae (Bryophyta) and a novel approach to biogeography


This project will use phylogenetic analysis to resolve the relationships of a monophyletic group of mosses. The resulting topology will then be used in studies of the evolution of morphological characters that will enable us to learn more about evolutionary processes. To develop a well-resolved phylogeny of the pleurocarpous moss group Ptychomniieae, I will extract and sequence DNA from the chloroplast, mitochondrial, and nuclear genome, and combine these in phylogenetic analyses. This work will increase our understanding of mitochondrial evolution in mosses. The second part of the project will investigate morphological evolution within the Ptychomniieae using morphological and molecular data.
This part of the project will include the novel approach of testing hypotheses of correlated character evolution employing maximum likelihood. Two particular hypotheses will be tested;
1) whether the presence of dwarf males is correlated with increasing variability of morphological characters and
2) whether the evolution of reduced peristomes are correlated with environmental conditions. In the third part of the project, cladistic biogeography will be used to explore area relationships based on the phytogenies and geographical distributions of the Ptychomniieae, the plant genera Gunnera and Nothofagus, genera of the insect family Chironomideae, and flightless ratite birds. The results of the cladistic bio geographic analyses will be combined with paleomagnetic data to yield paleomaps, which can be used to interpret patterns of continental drift and paleoclimate. This project will broaden my knowledge of systematics and evolution, in particular of the morphologically very interesting pleurocarpous moss group Ptychomniieae. During the project I will gain new insights into phylogenetic methods and gain knowledge of using scanning electron microscopy in morphological studies. I will learn techniques in cladistic biogeography, paleomagnetics, and construction of paleomaps for studies of continental drift and paleoclimate.

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Cromwell Road
United Kingdom

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