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Integrating phylogenomics, biogeography, and niche evolution to understand the diversification process in Melocactus and Discocactus (Cactaceae)

Grant number: 22/11683-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): July 10, 2023
Effective date (End): January 09, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Plant Genetics
Principal Investigator:Evandro Marsola de Moraes
Grantee:Milena Cardoso Telhe
Supervisor: Thais Nogales da Costa Vasconcelos
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Humanas e Biológicas (CCHB). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). Sorocaba , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Michigan, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:19/11233-2 - Phylogeny, biogeography and trait evolution of Melocactus link & Otto and Discocactus Pfeiff. genera (Cactaceae), BP.DD

Abstract

The Neotropical region is well known due to its species richness, but how this biodiversity was established and maintained is still subject to discussion. Biome shifts were identified extensively in the Neotropical region, indicating a key role in the regional biota assembling. However, the role of biome shifts in changing diversification rates in plant lineages from dry and open environments is still scarce. Although the studies that investigated biome shifts yield critical evolutionary insights into the Neotropics, these inferences did not consider evolutionary changes that have allowed lineages to transcend biome boundaries, such as niche evolution. With the advancement of niche modeling methods and niche evolution inferences, it is now possible to incorporate niche evolution with precise quantification of lineage responses to climate to investigate events of biome shifts. This project aims to investigate how biome shifts between Caatinga and Cerrado domains and past climate oscillations may have affected the distribution and diversification of the sister cactus genera Melocactus and Discocactus, contributing to the understanding of the role of these events in the diversification of neotropical lineages. Here, we will integrate the genetic variation of over 500 orthologous loci, biogeographic inferences, phylogenetic niche modeling, and diversification rate estimation to answer when and where biome shifts occurred in the evolutionary history of Melocactus and Discocactus clade and how they contributed to its species richness. (AU)

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