Finescale Biogeography and Speciation

My interest in biogeography in Gesneriaceae is the effect of biogeographic history on speciation. This research focuses on fine-scale mechanisms of plant dispersal and speciation. While continental drift has affected plant communities on a large scale over a larger period of geological time, fluctuations in global climate in recent times (in the late Tertiary and Quarternary) affected greatly regional floras. This is shown as an example for the genus Streptocarpus on the African continent, where the species evolved in a North (Kenya/Tanzania) to South (South Africa) cline. With collaborators from the University of Stellenbosch and Natal, we investigated this North-South trend in detail at the population level and found strong evidence that suggests a link between species range expansion, and Pleistocene climatic cycles, the populations utilising coastal forest micro-refugia as stepping stones.

Current biogeographic work focusses on Europe and China. We investigate the origin and diversification of the European Gesneriaceae (subtribe Ramondinae) and found an ancient origin in the Oligocene and recent diversification in the Pleistocene, further suggesting their long-persistence in a tertiary refugium in SE Europe.  In China, the genus Corallodiscus occurs from the Western Ghat in India to Hebei province in northeastern China, a 12000 kilometre NE-SW spread. We investigate the effects of orogeny and climate on the genetic and morphological landscape and their significance for taxonomy and conservation.

Current Projects:

fine-scale biogeography in Corallodiscus (Gesneriaceae) in China (with Prof De-Zhu Li, Prof Lian-Ming Gao, Kunming Institute of Botany)

origin and diversification of the European Haberlea rhodopensis (Gesneriaceae) (with Galya Petrova, Dimitar Djilianov, Daniela Moyankova, Agrobioinstitute Sofia)

Previous Projects:

hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting in African Streptocarpus (with Prof Dirk U Bellstedt, University of Stellenbosch; Mark Hughes, RBGE)

Biogeography and speciation in the genus Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae) (with Dr Mark Hughes, RBGE; Prof Dirk U Bellstedt, University of Stellenbosch; Prof Trevor J Edwards, University of Natal)

Publications (chronologically):

Petrova G, D Moyankova, K Nishii, L Forrest, I Tsiripidis, AD Drouzas, D Djilianov, M MÖLLER (2015). The European paleoendemic Haberlea rhodopensis (Gesneriaceae) has an Oligocene origin, Pleistocene diversification and occurs in a long persisting refugial area in South-Eastern Europe. International Journal of Plant Sciences, accepted.

Chen WH, YM Shui, JB Yang, H Wang, K Nishii, F Wen, ZR Zhang, M MÖLLER (2014). Taxonomic status, phylogenetic affinities and genetic diversity of a presumed extinct genus, Paraisometrum W.T.Wang (Gesneriaceae) from the karst regions of Southwest China. PLoS ONE 9(9): e107967. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107967

Petrova G, T Dzhambazova, D Moyankova, D Georgieva, D Dilianov, M MÖLLER (2014). Morphological variation, genetic diversity and genome size of critically endangered Haberlea (Gesneriaceae) populations in Bulgaria do not support the recognition of two different species. Plant Systematics and Evolution 300:29-41. 

de Villiers MJ, MD Pirie, M Hughes, M MÖLLER, TJ Edwards, DU Bellstedt (2013). An approach to identify putative hybrids in the ‘coalescent stochasticity zone’, as exemplified in the African plant genus Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae). New Phytologist 198: 284-300. 

Gao LM, ZR Zhang, P Zhou, M MÖLLER, DZ Li (2012). Microsatellite makers developed for Corallodiscus lanuginosus (Gesneriaceae) using the FIASCO approach. American Journal of Botany, Primer Notes & Protocols in Plant Sciences, in press.

Kokubugata G, Y Hirayama, CI Peng, M Yokota, M MÖLLER (2011). Phytogeographic aspects of Lysionotus pauciflorus sensu lato (Gesneriaceae) in the China, Japan and Taiwan regions: phylogenetic and morphological relationships and taxonomic consequences. Plant Systematics and Evolution 292(3-4):177-188.

Hughes M, M MÖLLER, TJ Edwards, DU Bellstedt, M De Villiers (2007). The impact of pollination syndrome and habitat on gene flow: a comparative study of two Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae) species. American Journal of Botany 94(10).

Hughes M, G MacMaster, M MÖLLER, DU Bellstedt, TJ Edwards (2006). Breeding system of a plesiomorphic floral type: an investigation of small flowered Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae) species. Plant Systematics and Evolution 262:13-24.

Hughes M, M MÖLLER, DU Bellstedt, TJ Edwards, M De Villiers (2005). Refugia, dispersal and divergence in a forest archipelago: a study of Streptocarpus in eastern South Africa. Molecular Ecology 14:4415-4426.

Hughes M, M MÖLLER, DU Bellstedt, TJ Edwards, M Woodhead (2004). EST and random genomic nuclear microsatellite markers for Streptocarpus. Molecular Ecology Notes 4:36-38.

MÖLLER M, KJ Brooks, M Hughes (2004). Plastid inheritance in Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae) and an inferred hybrid origin for a population of S. aff. primulifolius from Igoda River, South Africa. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 60(3):389-408.

Wang CN, M MÖLLER, QCB Cronk (2004). Population genetic structure of Titanotrichum oldhamii (Gesneriaceae), a subtropical bulbiliferous plant with mixed sexual and asexual reproduction. Annals of Botany 93:201-209.

Pico FX, M MÖLLER, NJ Ouborg, QCB Cronk (2002). Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the coding region of the developmental gene Gcyc in natural populations of the relict Ramonda myconi (Gesneriaceae). Plant Biology 4:625-629.

MÖLLER M, QCB Cronk (2001). Phylogenetic studies in Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae): reconstruction of biogeographic history and distribution patterns. Systematics and Geography of Plants 71(2):545-555.

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Diversity across the Corallodiscus lanuginosus-complex.

Diversity across the Corallodiscus lanuginosus-complex.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)