Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Juan Carlos Penagos, Ph.D.

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Juan Carlos Penagos, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development

Research Interests
• Systematics of Lauraceae
• Phylogeography along environmental gradients

Alex Linan, Ph.D.
Assistant Scientist
Africa and Madagascar Department

Research Interests
• Conservation genetics
• Species limits
• Hybridization

Hybrids: Do leaf cuticles differ between hybrids and paternal lines? Penagos is a Postdoctoral fellow interested in using integrative systematics to better delimit species and linages. Linan is an Assistant Scientist interested in the processes of species diversification, in particular hybridization. In woody tropical trees, hybrids are more common than previously expected. Those hybrids often exhibit more significant morphological variation than their paternal species. For example, it has been observed that hybrids formed between species with compound and simple leaves often have compound leaves with fewer leaflets than parent species. Additional traits could likely exhibit potentially adaptive variation, such as leaf cuticle characters important for regulating physiological processes and defense (herbivory). Ongoing molecular analyses of Weinmannia from South America have revealed an abundance of hybrids; however, little is known about the morphological variation displayed within hybrid individuals. In this study, we seek to conduct detailed SEM studies of lead cuticles, comparing those of hybrids and their putative parental species. Using the structural anatomy lab at MBG, we will image at least 30 specimens from two pairs of species and their putative hybrids using Scanning electron microscopes and light microscopy to asses for morphological variation. Leaf samples are currently stored at MBG.


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