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Plant Biology

Exploring the fern vascular system from past to present

One of the most important innovations in land plant evolution was the development of a vascular system (the set of tubes that moves water and nutrients through the body). These conducting tissues amplified mass flow rates by orders of magnitude, allowing plants to increase their photosynthetic capacity, grow larger, and alter aspects of the terrestrial ecosystem including carbon dioxide sequestration and increased oxygenation, in turn, profoundly affecting the course of evolution for life on land.

Phylogenetic methods for evolutionary mechanisms

Plants are amazing survival artists capable of enduring harsh environments and thriving in newly opened niches. My research seeks to broadly understand how environmental changes and biological interactions re-model the genealogical histories across the plant’s genome, with the aim of identifying key innovations responsible for adaptive changes. At the macroevolutionary scale, I will demonstrate how whole genome duplications buffered plants through a historical global warming, and how ancient gene flows created hyperdiverse clades in the neotropics and Chinese Hengduan Mountains.


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