We have prioritised taxonomic and phylogenetic research to focus on Gesneriaceae, Zingiberaceae and Sapotaceae, and the species-rich genus Begonia (Begoniaceae). In addition to these key families, we hold expertise in the Leguminosae, Sterculioideae (Malvaceae s.l.), Apocynaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Ericaceae and Musaceae. Taxonomic and phylogenetic research in the tropical gymnosperms Podocarpaceae and Araucariaceae is carried out by the Genetics and Conservation group.
Use and conservation of tropical plant species is impossible if they cannot be named, but fundamental taxonomic information providing these names is often lacking. Such information is provided in taxonomic monographs. Our priorities for taxonomic research are species-rich genera that are especially poorly studied, and pantropical groups of trees that dominate tropical forests.
Studying species-rich genera can help answer important questions about species distributions and the impact of climate change on plant diversity. Determination of how all organisms are related will help refine classifications and our understanding of evolutionary patterns. We aim to produce predictive classifications that can direct the search for genes, secondary compounds, and relatives of economically useful species.
We generate phylogenies based upon DNA sequences, but also integrate information from morphology in a total evidence approach that delivers evolutionary interpretation and underpins our research in evolutionary development.