Current projects

Phylogeny and historical biogeography of the Campanulaceae subfamily Campanuloideae

In 2012, we published the largest phylogeny of the group so far, encompassing some 70–80 % of the described diversity (Mansion & al. in PLOS ONE 7(11). 2012). Based on a genomic region with high phylogenetic signal (petD region of the group II intron), we were able to resolve 17 well-supported clades, outlining avenues for further research. We also tested the effects of mass sampling versus lower taxon representation on several phylogenetic estimates including tree shape, branch robustness, and node ages calculation.

In a mean time, new low-copy nuclear markers have been generated in the Nico Cellinese Lab, and seem to support petD-based phylogenetic inference. With such optimization of different kind of molecular markers, and the recent burst of next-generation sequencing methods, we ultimately plan to improve our phylogenetic backbone to generate robust biogeographic inferences and detect potential shift in species diversification, notably in some Mediterranean-Alpine and Irano-Turanian clades.
Contact: Norbert Kilian

Development of a subject indexing system for collections of the north hemispherical flowering plant genus Campanula

In an exemplary way a subject indexing system will be realised for collections of Campanula (bell flowers), which is one of the species-richest flowering plant genera. Based on existing software components of the EDIT Platform for Cybertaxonomy, the subject indexing system will combine three functionalities: data repository, editor and information portal. It will allow the sustainable handling already of the objects of examination used in the systematic research process, which are samples of individual organisms that represent taxa and become collection items after integrated into a collection. In terms of a sustainable and transparent scientific practice their preservation in a generally accessible collection should be mandatory. In reality this is not the case for several types of samples, in particular for those of more derived nature. The main goals therefore are (1) an easy integration of samples used in the research process and their metadata into collections, thereby improving sustainability and verifiability of systematic research, and (2) the optimisation of the data manangement and thereby increasing the efficiency of the workflow in systematic research. A comprehensiv paper on the concept and implementation has been published (Kilian & al. 2015 in Database : bav094)

The project is funded from 2012 to 2015 by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the Scientific Library Services and Information Systems (LIS) programme and done by the BGBM (Research Group Asterales, and Research and Development Group Biodiversity Informatics) in cooperation with the University of Münster (Working Group Evolution und Biodiversity of Plants, Kai Müller).
Contact: Norbert Kilian

Consequences of polyploidy: phylogeny, phyloecology, and expression of duplicated genes in Leucanthemum (Compositae, Anthemideae)

Polyploidy (whole genome duplication via auto- or allopolyploidy) is an important process in angiosperm evolution. The genus Leucanthemum, centred in the western Mediterranean, of the Anthemideae subtribe Leucantheminae provides a striking example with an uninterrupted series of diploid to dodecaploid chromosome numbers among its 42 species. We use this genus as a model to investigate the genetic, genomic, biogeographical and ecological consequences of polyploidy. In a top-down approach we envisage (a) to prepare a hypothesis of the reticulate phylogeny of the whole genus using sequencing of nuclear and chloroplast markers and AFLP fingerprinting, along with an up-to-date taxonomic revision of the genus, and (b) to model eco-climatic niches of all species based on geo-referenced herbarium specimens. Phylogenetic information and reconstructions of actual and potential eco-climatic niches will be then used to circumscribe the temporal, spatial and ecological diversification of the polyploidy complex. In a bottom-up approach, we use the phylogentically distinct L. pluriflorum clan comprising diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid species from Iberian coastal and inland habitats (a) to study the phylogeography of this group and (b) to assess the fate of duplicated candidate genes connected with salt tolerance by sequence comparisons and expression studies.

This is a project funded from 2011 to 2014 by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in a long-term cooperation between the BGBM (Robert Vogt) and the Institute for Botany, University of Regensburg (Christoph Oberprieler) dedicated to the phylogeny, evolution and systematics of the Anthemidae subtribe Leucantheminae.
Contact: Robert Vogt.

Phylogeny, evolution, historical biogeography and systematics of the Lactuca alliance (Asteraceae, Cichorieae, subtribe Lactucinae)

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is the economically most important crop of the tribe Cichorieae, and Lactuca one of its widest known genera. Lactuca is also the namegiving member of one of the larger groups of the tribe, the Lactuca alliance, which is treated today as the subtribe Lactucinae. It comprises about 230 species with a preference of montane habitats, distributed in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. The subtribe has two centres of current diversity, one in the Mediterranean-SW Asian region, the other in China and the adjacent Himalayan region (Wang & al. 2013).

The classification of no other alliance of the tribe has faced so many controversies over the last 200 years than that of Lactuca and its presumed allies, and only towards the end of the 20th century, the Lactuca alliance was recognised as a separate subtribe, based on morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses. With studies on its taxonomy, reconstructions of its phylogeny and biogeography, we are aiming at an understanding of the evolution of the diversity of this lineage and, for example, of the causes for the immense difficulties it poses to morphology-based classification attempts.

The results of these studies, moreover, form the foundation for monographic systematic treatments of the Lactucinae genera finally recognised. These treatments are, at the same time, planned to explore a consistently matrix-based, integrative taxonomic workflow and dynamic monographic publication, hence as an approach to facilitate both the production and updating of as well as data re-use from taxonomic monographs.

This project, lead-managed by the Asterales Research Group, is conducted in partnership with researchers from Gießen (Birgit Gemeinholzer), Helsinki & St Petersburg (Alexander Sennikov), Kunming (Peng Hua, Wang Zehuan, Zhang Jianwen), Munich & S. Miguel, Acores (Hanno Schäfer, Mónica Maria Tavares Moura, Luís Filipe Dias e Silva & Elisabete F. Dias) and Tehran (Hossein Akhani). Lab work in Berlin has been funded by the Verein der Freunde des Botanischen Gartens und Botanischen Museums Berlin-Dahlem and the Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS).
Contact: Norbert Kilian

Phylogeny, biogeography and systematics of the helichrysoids (Asteraceae, Gnaphalieae) of the Socotra archipelago, Yemen

The Socotra archipelago, an island group of Yemen off the Horn of Africa, which is famous for its diverse endemic flora, also harbours more than a dozen species treated as members of Helichrysum, ranging in their habits from tiny annual herbs to large shrubs. A reconstruction of the phylogeny of the Socotran helichrysoids based on nr markers ITS and ETS and the cp markers ndhF and trnL-F, as well as, for a selection of species, the low copy nuclear markers pgiC and A39, together with morphological (including mircomorphological) studies of the taxa aims at a clarification of their systematics and biogeography. The project shall increase our knowledge about the colonisation and biogeography of the Socotra archipelago, deepen our understanding of character evolution on oceanic inlands and further elucidate the intricate evolution of Gnaphalieae.

This is a cooperation project of the Asterales Research Group with the Institute of Botany Barcelona (Mercè Galbany-Casals), the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (Antony Miller), Landcare Research New Zealand (Rob Smissen) and the Institute of Botany of the University of Regensburg (Christoph Oberprieler).
Contact: Norbert Kilian


Permanent online resources

Campanula Portal

We are using Campanula s.l. (bell flower), which is one of the species-richest flowering plant genera, in this portal as an exemplar (1) to display work in progress on the systematics of this genus, and (2) to investigate convenient ways to display the linking of metadata and descriptive data for collection items with taxonomic information as being developed in the frame of our project on a Campanula subject indexing system.

The Campanula Portal is maintained and further developed  by the BGBM’s Asterales Research Group and its Research and Development Group Biodiversity Informatics.

Cichorieae Portal of the International Cichorieae Network (ICN)

In the workpackage "Unifying revisionary taxonomy" of the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT) project the Cichorieae exemplar group at the BGBM created an exemplar site using the EDIT Platform for Cybertaxonomy. The Cichorieae Portal is being established as a convenient access to the existing knowledge about this difficult group of plants, based on authoritative taxonomic information. It is designed to serve both the specialist and the occasional visitor, facilitating cooperation among workers of the group as well as an undelayed integration of new data and research results, and finally aiming at an encyclopedic knowledge base of entire tribe.

This Cichorieae Portal of the International Cichorieae network is sustained and further developed by the BGBM’s Asterales Research Group in cooperation with the BGBM's Research and Development Group Biodiversity Informatics.

Natural Substances in the Compositae: The Bohlmann Files

Originally a 2-year research and implementation project at the BGBM (2000 to 2002) financed by the German Federal Ministry of Research under the BIOLOG Programme. The Bohlmann Files database and portal is maintained but not presently curated by the BGBM.