Plant Systematics and Biogeography
I have been studying Vochysiaceae for the past 10 years. The family encompasses subshrubs from the Brazilian savannas to gigantic trees from the Amazon. Like many other tropical families, we are still describing new species and understanding the phylogenetic relationships of the ca. 250 species of Vochysiaceae.
Most species of Vochysiaceae occur throughout the Neotropical region. Interestingly, despite wind dispersed seeds, rare and endemic species are common in this group. For these and other reasons, I am using Vochysiaceae as a model to investigate the tempo and mode of evolution of plants from the Neotropical lowlands.
Plastid genome evolution
I am also interested in the evolution of plastomes and the use of this genomic compartment for phylogenetic inference. In land plants, plastomes tend to be conserved in gene content and order. However, a few groups have highly rearranged plastomes with inversions of genes or gene blocks and also gene duplication, loss and pseudogenization. I am interested in investigating groups that are known to have rearranged plastomes and in completing plastomes of groups of plants that still lack that information. Ultimately, my interest is to apply information obtained from plastome evolution in systematic studies. This last goal led me to study and question how plastome data is analytically explored in a phylogenetic context.
I have been working on floristic surveys in Brazil and in the US . In Brazil I collaborate mostly with Gustavo Shimizu in multiple surveys of Vochysiaceae. For the past three years I have been participating in the Texas Ecolab Program. In this project we are combining floristics with genomics, exploring the evolution of plastomes from plants native to Texas.