Phylogeny of liverworts (Hepaticae), the least known group of early land plants

Project Details

Description (abstract)

Liverworts, hornworts and mosses have been showed to be the closest living relatives of the first land plants by fossil evidence and phylogenetic studies. Hence, studies of these organisms will enhance our understanding of land plant origin, evolution, and diversity. Most of earlier studies have focused on mosses, but phylogenetic relationships of liverworts at different levels still remain ambiguous. So far the studies on liverworts are all based on a single genomic region, some included only very few taxa or important taxonomic groups were missing, and some made little analytical searches concerning the robustness of the results. In this project, we aim to use nucleotide sequence data from five genes representing three plant genomes, combined with a range of morphological characters to address the relationships of liverworts among the land plant lineages, and the relationships of the major lineages of liverworts, with emphasis on leafy liverworts, Jungermanniidae. We sample 65 representatives of liverworts, 6 of mosses, 5 of vascular plants, and 2 charas. We will answer fundamental questions whether liverworts represent the most basal lineage of the extant land plants, how the major groups of liverworts are related, as well as what are the phylogenetic relationships within the leafy groups of liverworts, which present 85 % of liverwort diversity.
Effective start/end date01/01/200331/12/2006