AGORA - Ancient Genomics of Rainforests
Start date: Jul 1, 2013,
End date: Jun 30, 2015
Tropical rainforests from West and Central Africa are one of the most diverse but threatened ecosystems on Earth as a result of population growth, agriculture and forestry. Understanding the evolutionary history and ecological processes responsible for this vast biodiversity is thus an urgent task. However, biological research in these areas is extremely challenging due to bureaucratic reasons, conflicts or lack of infrastructures that difficult the access to the rainforest. As a consequence of the colonialism, Europe hosts the most complete botanical collections from tropical Africa. These collections are extremely valuable tools in botanical research since many of them have been collected before the independence in the Sixties in areas which are currently inaccessible. However, these specimens cannot be studied with traditional molecular methods, only suitable for modern samples with well-preserved DNA. The project AGORA - “Ancient Genomics of Rainforests” - intends to explore novel possibilities for the genetic study of these collections, in particular focusing on six widespread tropical tree legumes, with state-of-the art genomics and ancient DNA methodology in order to contribute to the reconstruction of the natural history of the rainforest ecosystem.
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