UF study: Rapid burst of flowering plants set stage for other species

February 5th, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida study based on DNA analysis from living flowering plants shows that the ancestors of most modern trees diversified extremely rapidly 90 million years ago, ultimately leading to the formation of forests that supported similar evolutionary bursts in animals and other plants.

This burst of speciation over a 5-million-year span was one of three major radiations of flowering plants, known as angiosperms. The study focuses on diversification in the rosid clade, a group with a common ancestor that now accounts for one-third of the worlds flowering plants. The forests that resulted provided the habitat that supported later evolutionary diversifications for amphibians, ants, placental mammals and ferns.

“Shortly after the angiosperm-dominated forests diversified, we see this amazing diversification in other lineages, so they basically set the habitat for all kinds of new things to arise,” said Pamela Soltis, study co-author and curator of molecular systematics and evolutionary genetics at UFs Florida Museum of Natural History. “Associated with some of the subsequent radiations is even the diversification of the primates.” (more…)

Fla. Museum plant scientists receive award for outstanding service

November 22nd, 2006

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History scientists Doug and Pam Soltis and David Dilcher, and William Stern, University of Florida Botany Professor Emeritus, recently received centennial awards from the Botanical Society of America for their outstanding service to the plant sciences and the society.

The Soltises oversee the Florida Museum molecular genetics lab and are world leaders in plant genome research. Doug Soltis also currently is chair of the UF Department of Botany. Dilcher, a Florida Museum graduate research professor in the Division of Paleobotany and Palynology, is well-known for his research of the origin of flowers and the reproductive biology of the first flowering plants.

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