Understanding the mechanisms associated with the origin of the high species diversity encountered in several regions around the globe, mainly in tropical areas, represents a key question in evolutionary biology. In the Neotropics, in particular, it is increasingly clear that the origin of high species diversity is associated with the complex evolutionary history of the organisms encountered in that region, with ecological and historical factors playing key roles for the diversification of the biota. Integrative studies based on information from different research areas and a wide range of organisms in space and time are critical for the understanding of the processes associated with the origin of high species diversity. In this study we focus on Tanaecium, a morphologically diverse genus of lianas that is widely distributed across the Neotropics and centered in Amazonia. We use Tanaecium as model to test hypotheses associated with the mechanisms that lead to the great species diversity found in this region. We will initially reconstruct the phylogeny of Tanaecium by sampling extensively within the genus (i.e., multiple individuals per species). The phylogeny of Tanaecium will then be used as basis to: (i) test the monophyly and identify morphological sinapomorphies of individual species of Tanaecium, in order to support the taxonomic decisions associated with a monograph of the genus; (ii) study the pattern of floral evolution in the group; and (iii) reconstruct the biogeographic history of the genus. The results derived from the biogeographic study will be analyzed in the light of existing phylogenetic data for other Amazonian organisms in order to establish a more comprehensive picture on the evolution of the biota of this region. This study is inserted into a broader project coordinated by Dr. Lúcia G. Lohmann that aims to understand the evolution and assembly of the Amazonian biota as a whole.
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