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Diversification in evolutionary radiations: imprints of hybridization and ecological niche evolution in the Facheiro cacti (Pilosocereus s.str., Cactaceae)

Grant number: 22/04621-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2022
Effective date (End): July 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany
Principal Investigator:Evandro Marsola de Moraes
Grantee:Matias Köhler
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Humanas e Biológicas (CCHB). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). Sorocaba , SP, Brazil


Biodiversity is crucial for human life - providing innumerable benefits and services - but has faced high levels of threat and extinction. In this scenario, scientists urge to understand the mechanisms underlying the diversification process, providing subsidies to conserve it. Evolutionary radiations - characterized by the formation of many species in a short time - have been invoked as being responsible for generating biodiversity, especially within the Neotropical region. However, the process and factors associated with evolutionary radiations are still largely to be deciphered. In this proposal, we will use a model group that occupies the major arid and semiarid regions of the Neotropics (the Pilosocereus s.str. cacti) to investigate the putative evolutionary process associated with lineage diversification. Using a targeted sequence capture approach, phylogenetic comparative methods, distribution records, and species distribution models, we will assess the signatures of hybridization and ecological (climatic and edaphic) niche evolution in the evolutionary history of Pilosocereus, and their putative impact on the diversification of the group. We hypothesize that imprints of hybridization and ecological niche evolution are relevant mechanisms in the diversification of plant evolutionary radiations. Our results will be used to subsidize crucial advances in the understanding of mechanisms associated with biodiversity diversification within evolutionary radiations, and to promote strategies for biodiversity conservation. (AU)

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