Congratulations to Eugenio Valderrama who successfully defended his PhD thesis at RBGE one week ago (apologies for the late posting!). Eugenio´s PhD utilized DNA sequence data obtained from a screen of markers from transcriptomes of three species of Renealmia (Zingiberaceae). The markers were used to produce a dated phylogeny of nearly all the species that was then used to compare diversification rates between African and Neotropical lineages of the genus. Faster rates were found in the Neotropical lineages, consistent with the hypothesis of more rapid speciation in the Neotropics being responsible for the greater diversity found there. This rapid speciation may be associated with the uplift of the Andes mountains in Northwestern South America from the mid to late Miocene. Eugenio also produced an account fo the Colombian species of Renealmia.
Celebrating the defence: Karina, Eugenio, Mafe, Julieth, Andreas and Maca. Photo: Toby Pennington.