Two clues to the early diversification of flowering plants (angiosperms)

Type: 
Seminar
Date: 
Friday 8 March, 2019
Time: 
3.00pm
Location: 
Mathews Building, Theatre D

The origin and early diversification of angiosperms has attracted considerable attention, ever since Darwin referred to it as an ‘abominable mystery’

The origin and early diversification of angiosperms has attracted considerable attention, ever since Darwin referred to it as an ‘abominable mystery’. In this talk, Dr Sauquet presents on recent and ongoing collaborative efforts tackling two questions on the origins of angiosperms: 1) what was the structure of the ancestral flower and how did it start diversifying into the thousands of forms we see today?; 2) what is the timescale of early angiosperm diversification? Dr Sauquet reports model-based reconstructions for ancestral flowers at the deepest nodes in the phylogeny of angiosperms, using a large dataset of floral traits (792 species representing 372 families). This reconstruction leads to a new plausible scenario for the early diversification of flowers. Dr Sauquet will also present results from a new molecular dating study of angiosperms as a whole, calibrated against fossil data, providing the first comprehensive set of comparable estimates for stem ages of every angiosperm family.

Biography: Dr Hervé Sauquet is an evolutionary biologist and systematic botanist with a broad interest in flowering plant macroevolution. A key focus of his research is to unravel and better understand large-scale patterns in the evolution of flowers, combining molecular phylogenies, the fossil record, and databases of plant morphology. After a PhD in Paris and postdocs in Stockholm, Sydney, and Kew, he worked as an Associate Professor at Université Paris-Sud from 2009 to 2017. He is now a Research Scientist at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domains Trust in Sydney.