Monocotyledons form a clade of more than 65,000 species (~ 25% all of angiosperms). They radiated extensively over the past 130 million years, and today they are found in every continent, including Antarctica. Comprehending their origin, phylogeny, diversity, and patterns of convergent and divergent evolution presents a major challenge to evolutionary biologists. Although our understanding of monocot phylogeny at all levels has increased during the last two decades, many important relationships are still unknown. In this project, my colleagues are working on developing a fully resolved, strongly supported, highly inclusive phylogeny for monocots, using multi-gene and genomics approaches utilizing parsimony, Bayesian, and maximum-likelihood methods. My contribution to this project is the critical evaluation of putative monocot fossils and their geological ages and to provide the most reliable calibration points for verifying the timeline for monocot evolution.
This project is funded by a National Science Foundation grant 0830020.