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A multilocus approach to the phylogenetic inference of an island and continental plant radiations (Plant Speciation)
Start date: Jan 1, 2011, End date: Dec 31, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Processes of species diversification, which form the basis of biodiversity dynamics, are still only partially understood. The evolutionary histories of taxonic radiations (the burst of numerous closely related species over a short period of time), have been particularly difficult to resolve phylogenetically. Recent analytical developments including new molecular markers and new computing methodologies, are providing the opportunity to unravel these striking evolutionary phenomena. Moreover, understanding the genetic variation and evolutionary history of economically important plant species and their relatives is critical for the sustainable use of plant genetic resources and for optimizing crop improvement programmes. Coffea (Rubiaceae) and Astrocaryum (Palmae) are two tropical genera that include economically important species. The aim of this project is to construct a species-level phylogeny for the Coffea species inhabiting Madagascar and a group of closely related Astrocaryum species mostly from western Amazonia and the lower eastern Andes, allowing the comparison of radiative speciation patterns in an insular or in a continental setting. Phylogenetic reconstruction will be based on the comparison and combination of three kinds of molecular markers: plastid sequences, nuclear genes and transposable elements. Most of the DNA regions to be used, generated by ongoing genomic projects for commercial palms and coffee species, are still largelyunexplored in plants, and have not been used for phylogeny reconstruction to date.Phylogenetic analyses will be conducted using maximum parsimony and Bayesian criteria, methods for inferring species tree from multiple gene trees, and methods for dating phylogenies. The phylogenetic relationships and the chronologies of speciation inferred will be evaluated through models of sympatric or allopatric speciation in the biogeographical context of north-western South America and Madagascar, two major world biodiversity hotspots. The project will contribute to the applicant's progression as an independent scientist by adding strong genomic skills and high-impact publications necessary to reach a position of professional maturity in Europe. With a career move from Denmark to France the applicant complies with the mobility criteria of the programme.
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