Memecylon is one of the few groups in Melastomataceae that include trees and shrubs, and it consists of 350-400 species. It is an excellent model for gaining new insights into the modes of diversification and evolutionary processes of plants in tropical ecosystems due to the heterogeneity within the clade and its presence in a wide range of habitats in the Old World tropics exhibiting a high regional endemism. However, its phylogenetic relationships and biogeography remain poorly understood. Therefore, we use an integrative approach of niche modelling and time calibrated phylogenies to study niche evolution in this group and identify drivers of diversification. A large part of our research is focused on Memecylon that occur in Sri Lanka, India, South Africa and Papua New Guinea. We are conducting the first in-depth study of the evolution and niche ecology of this group to understand how ecological niches have changed along its evolutionary history.

Jantzen, J.R.*, Amarasinghe, P.*, Folk, R.A., Reginato, R., Michelangeli, F.A., Soltis, D.E., Cellinese, N.+, Soltis, P.S.+  2020. A two-tier bioinformatic pipeline to develop probes for target capture of nuclear loci with applications in Melastomataceae. Applications in Plant Sciences 8(5): e11345. *Equal contributors; +Co-senior authors.

Amarasinghe, P., Joshi, S., Page, N., Wijedasa, L.S., Stone, R.D., Kathriarachchi, H., Merello, M., Judd, W., Kodandaramaiah, U., Cellinese, N.2020. Evolution and historical biogeography of Memecylon (Melastomataceae) in the Old World tropics. In review.

Amarasinghe, P., Pham, P*., Stone, R.D., Cellinese, N.2020. Reticulate evolution in a South African Memecylonclade (Melastomataceae). In review. *Undergraduate

Funds

2019 UF Biology Dept. travel grant – $350 (Amarasinghe)

2019 UF Biology Dept. Mildred Mason Griffith Botany Grant – $1000 (Amarasinghe)

2017 Botanical Society of America Graduate Student Research Award – $800 (Amarasinghe)

2017 American Society of Plant Taxonomists Graduate Student Research Grant – $500 (Amarasinghe)

2017 UF Biology Dept. Davis graduate award in Botany –  $350 (Amarasinghe)

2017 Florida Museum of Natural History Travel awards – $500 (Amarasinghe)

2016 International Association for Plant Taxonomy research grants in Plant Systematics – $1000 (Amarasinghe)