Lakmini Kumarage

Email: Lakmini Kumarage

Phone: +44 (0)131 248 2899

Fax: +44 (0)131 248 2901

General Research Interests

My research focuses on the biogeographic affinities of the flora of Sri Lanka particularly of RBGE target families Sapotaceae, Begoniaceae, Zingiberaceae and Gesneriaceae. My objective is to incorporate Sri Lankan representatives to dated global phylogenies of each family to understand the patterns of distributions and to assess the role of Sri Lanka in the assembly of tropical floras worldwide.

Research Background

Sri Lanka is a key location for understanding patterns of migration and biome formation among tropical plants. Its flora likely comprises elements that have reached the island in three contrasting ways. First, Sri Lanka and India originated as fragments of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, and part of their flora might therefore be Gondwanan relicts. Second, immigration of Laurasian floristic elements through Asia and India may have contributed a substantial number of species to the Sri Lankan flora. Third, long distance dispersal directly from other tropical regions, i.e. Southeast Asia and Africa, might have contributed species to the Sri Lankan flora. A fourth contributor to the Sri Lankan flora will have been diversification of lineages within the island (in situ speciation).

Regarding the significance of Sri Lanka for wider biogeography, a commonly cited hypothesis for the origin of some Asian genera and families is that they rafted north on the Indian subcontinent and then spread and diversified following contact with Asia. If this were true, the most basal Asian taxa within such clades would be expected to occur in the more remote parts of the subcontinent, making Sri Lanka an ideal place to look for them. In addition, Sri Lanka may have acted as a stepping stone in movement of tropical biota between Africa and Southeast Asia, and possibly a refugium for Indian taxa during glacial maxima. Thus, my objective is to test all these hypotheses using dated molecular phylogenies since biogeographic affinities of the Sri Lankan flora have not yet been investigated using modern molecular methods.

Host Institutions

My project is based jointly at the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and it is funded by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh. My supervisors are James Richardson and Mark Hughes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Richard Milne from the University of Edinburgh and Sumudu Rubasinghe from the University of Peradeniya.

Publications

Kumarage,L.D., and Yakandawala, P.D. 2009. Phylogenetic relationships of the genus Garcinia (Clusiaceae) in Sri Lanka. Proceedings of the Peradeniya University Research Sessions, Sri Lanka. Vol. 14. Pp 174-176.

Kumarage, L.D., Perera, G.A.D. and Karunaratne, A.M. 2010. A preliminary attempt to estimate the soluble fibre content in leafy vegetables using anatomical sections. Proceedings of the Peradeniya University Research Sessions, Sri Lanka. Vol.15. Pp. 17-19.

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