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CORDIS

Advancing beyond the adaptive radiation paradigm: uncovering the contributions of adaptive and non-adaptive processes to a rapid plant radiation

Project description

Uncovering the mechanisms of rapid plant radiation

Understanding why some lineages rapidly generate exceptionally high species diversity lies at the heart of biology. The current paradigm is that adaptation to different ecological niches together with rise of phenotypic diversity trigger such rapid radiations. However, existing studies fail to test the alternative hypothesis, which is that rapid radiations could be also driven by non-adaptive processes mediated, for example by the geographic isolation of lineages with similar ecological niches. To uncover how adaptive and non-adaptive processes together affect rapid radiation, the EU-funded RadiPhyte project will focus on the genus Dianthus in Eurasia, which demonstrates the most rapid plant radiation known. The project will focus on three key aspects: phylogenomics, ecological niche modelling, and phenotypic trait evolution.

Objective

Understanding why some lineages rapidly generate exceptionally high species diversity (undergo rapid radiation) lies at the heart of our understanding of biodiversity and is a key question in biology. Adaptation to different ecological niches together with rise of phenotypic diversity is considered to trigger rapid radiations. However, existing studies fail to test the alternative (or null) hypothesis, namely that a rapid radiation is driven by non-adaptive processes mediated by geographic isolation of lineages with similar ecological niches. In order to uncover the contributions of adaptive and non-adaptive processes to a rapid radiation, I will focus on the radiation of Dianthus in Eurasia, the most rapid plant radiation known. RadiPhyte aims at developing a novel, integrative perspective on evolutionary radiations, beyond the narrow focus on adaptive radiations, to unravel the driving forces in this plant radiation. RadiPhyte will focus on three key aspects: phylogenomics, ecological niche modelling, and phenotypic trait evolution, and will encompass species from the biodiversity hotspots across the Mediterranean mountains and from the semi-arid/arid mountains of Irano-Anatolia, Caucasus and Central Asia which are not only highly biodiverse but severely understudied and threatened by climate change. RadiPhyte combines the strengths of the host in ecological genomics of adaptive processes in Dianthus, with those of the applicant in phylogenetics, ecological niche modelling, and geometric morphometrics. RadiPhyte will thus promote a two-way transfer of knowledge between the host and the applicant and create important synergies. RadiPhyte comprises a comprehensive dissemination strategy, and is in line with the “climate change action in developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems from a sub-regional perspective” of the EU with the aim to integrate the knowledge gained in the continental arid regions with those available within Europe.

Coordinator

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZUERICH
Net EU contribution
€ 203 149,44
Address
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich
Switzerland

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Region
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 203 149,44