Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Mónica Carlsen. Ph.D.

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 Mónica Carlsen. Ph.D.

Assistant Scientist – Education Coordinator
Research Department, Science & Conservation Division

Research Interests

• Zingiberales systematics and evolution
• Plant species diversity and geographic distribution in tropical regions
• Phylogenomics of rapid radiations of species

Species diversification in the tropics within the order Zingiberales. Carlsen, the current REU Co-PI, is an Assistant Scientist and the Education Coordinator of MBG’s Research Department. Her research focuses in understanding rapid radiations of species-rich Neotropical plant genera integrating revisionary taxonomical studies and molecular phylogenomics. The order Zingiberales (including bananas and ginger) contains ca. 2,000 species, grouped in 8 families and ca. 70 genera. Genera or groups endemic to the old world tropics (i.e. Asian and African tropics) are usually less species-rich than those present in the Neotropics (American tropics). Several hypotheses have been proposed for this disparity in species diversity, including differences in climate, area and heterogeneity. In this project, the student will use DNA sequences freely available in GenBank, combined with published phylogenomic data (Carlsen et al. 2018), to generate a densely sampled molecular phylogeny of the order Zingiberales that will serve as the backbone to study patterns of diversification within the order and to understand why are there more species in the Neotropics?


• Carlsen, M.; Fér, T.; Schmickl, R.; Leong-Škorničková, J.; Newman, M.; Kress, W.J. 2018. Resolving the rapid plant radiation of early diverging lineages in the tropical Zingiberales: Pushing the limits of genomic data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 128: 55-68.

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