Begonia has a pan tropical distribution and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants, containing around 2000 species. The goal of this research programme, (supported by the M.L. MacIntyre Begonia Trust), is to document species diversity in the genus and to understand the evolutionary processes that have given rise to it. We are building an extensive wild-origin species collection to underpin this research, as well as making use of the excellent national Begonia collection at Glasgow Botanic Garden. The first phase of research consolidated a backbone phylogeny for the genus and investigated patterns of population genetic behaviour.
Current systematic research focuses on Southeast Asian Begonia, and is coordinated by Mark Hughes (home page). A taxonomic database of all known species in Southeast Asia is now online, and includes distribution maps, nomenclatural information and over 6000 specimen images. We are aiming to build a complete picture of the evolution of the diversity in Begonia across Southeast Asia through monographic and phylogenetic research.
Active projects on Begonia at RBGE include:
- A monograph of Sumatran Begonia (M. Hughes, D. Girmansyah (Bogor))
- Biogeography of neotropical Begonia (P. Moonlight, M. Hughes, J. Richardson)
- The influence of typhoons and tectonics on the colonisation of the Philippine archipelago by Begonia (M. Hughes, R. Rubite, P. Blanc, C.-I Peng)
- Biogeography of Sri-Lanka (L. Kumarage, J. Richardson, M. Hughes)
- See also our Evolutionary Development and Genomic research on Begonia
Thomas, D.C., Hughes, M., Phutthai, T., Ardi, W.H., Rajbhandary, S., Rubite, R., Twyford, A.D., & Richardson, J.E. (2011). West to east dispersal and subsequent rapid diversification of the mega-diverse genus Begonia (Begoniaceae) in the Malesian archipelago. Journal of Biogeography 39: 98-113.
Hughes, M., Girmansyah, D., Ardi, W.H. & Nurainas. (2009). Seven new species of Begonia from Sumatra. Gardens' Bulletin Singapore, 61: 29-44.
Goodall-Copestake, W., Harris, D.J. & Hollingsworth, P.H. (2009). The origin of a mega-diverse genus: dating Begonia (Begoniaceae) using alternative datasets, calibrations and relaxed clock methods. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 159: 363-380.
Hughes, M. & Hollingsworth, P.M. (2008). Population genetic divergence corresponds with species-level diversity patterns in the large genus Begonia. Molecular Ecology, 17: 2643-2651.
Hughes, M. (2008). An annotated checklist of southeast Asian Begonia. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.