Different paths to diversity; this study compares two tropical tree groups with high species diversity but very different biologies through genomic comparisons.
One of the remarkable aspects of the tremendous biodiversity found in tropical forests is the wide range of evolutionary strategies that have produced this diversity, indicating that there are many paths to diversity. This project team is comparing the genomes of two groups of trees, the figs and the stone oaks, which have profoundly different biologies.
Figs, which comprise the genus Ficus in the Moraceae family, have a complex symbiotic relationship with obligate pollinating wasps. They produce copious tiny seeds that are widely dispersed by a large number of animals. Stone oaks, in the genus Lithocarpus in the Fagaceae family, are pollinated by a large diversity of insects and produce few, large seeds that are poorly dispersed. The hypothesis is that these different reproductive biologies and life history strategies will change the basic properties of genomic divergence within each genus.