Florida Museum of Natural History
Assembling the Tree of Life: Orchidaceae Orchid Tree:
    a phylogeny of epiphytes (mostly) on the tree of life
University of Florida Herbarium Home


Our highly trained staff of orchidologists at the University of Florida. Left to right: Robert L. Dressler (now at the Lankester Botanical Garden in Costa Rica), Norris H. Williams, and W. Mark Whitten. Photo by Lotte Skov.

Norris H. Williams will serve as lead PI on the project. He has an extensive background in orchid biology, including orchid anatomy, palynology, pollination biology, chemical ecology, and molecular systematics. He served for nine years as Chair of the Research Department of the Florida Museum of Natural History and has administrative experience with large, complex groups. He has developed extensive contacts throughout Central and South America during the past 39 years. He has recruited students from Mexico to Brazil and has active collaborations in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. He will oversee organization and administration of the project and will supervise database and website organization and development. To emphasize our commitment to recruiting minority and underrepresented groups, PI Williams has a commitment from UF administrators to support a minority graduate student for four years. In the first year of the grant he will give talks/workshops at both Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman College to recruit minority graduate students - a person could be in either biology or computer science - to begin work on this project.

W. Mark Whitten has extensive field and lab experience in orchid systematics, pollination biology, orchid chemical ecology, and molecular systematics. He will supervise DNA aliquot distribution, voucher databasing, PCR and sequencing troubleshooting, GenBank data entry, and matrix construction. He and Williams will be responsible for ca. 1/3 of sequence data collection.

John V. Freudenstein has extensive experience in morphological and molecular systematics, data analysis, and methods of phylogenetic analysis. He will lead the morphological data collection and analyses and will be responsible for ca. 1/3 of sequence data collection.

Kenneth M. Cameron has extensive experience with higher level phylogenetics of Orchidaceae and has extensive field experience in Asia and Australia. He will oversee sequence data collection for ca. 1/3 of taxa and will be responsible for education and outreach products.

Mark W. Chase is Head of the Molecular Systematics Section, Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is the leader of many major collaborations in angiosperm molecular systematics. He was instrumental in developing large-scale collaborative phylogenetic projects and has extensive experience in orchid systematics. Most orchid molecular phylogenetic workers have collaborated with Mark, and his lab at Kew has played a leading role in training orchid biologists and in assembling the DNA bank critical to success of this project. He and collaborators at Kew (Michael Fay, Phillip Cribb, Dave Roberts, Vincent Savolainen) will consult on taxon sampling, phylogenetic analysis, and studies of biogeography, phylogeography, and molecular evolution.

Richard Bateman (United Kingdom) is a leading authority and researcher on European orchids with an extensive collection of DNA samples and morphological data for these taxa.

Cassio van den Berg (Brazil) has worked extensively on molecular and morphological systematics of the large and horticulturally important Laeliinae and will contribute his expertise and samples.

Germán Carnevali (Mexico) is collaborating with us on studies of Maxillariinae and Laeliinae; he has broad expertise in orchids of Mexico and Venezuela.

Mark A. Clements (Australia) is working on the large and difficult subtribes Diuridae and Dendrobiinae, and has assembled an extensive DNA bank of Australasian species.

Phillip Cribb (UK) is Curator of the Orchid Herbarium at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is an authority on Cypripediodeae and many African and Asian groups. His cooperation and guidance through the herbarium and library resources at Kew are essential.

Robert Dressler (US) authored two of the most influential books on orchid phylogeny and evolution and publishes frequently on orchids of Mesoamerica. He is a research associate at UF, and will assist with morphological character evaluation, choice and scoring, and with verification of voucher determinations.

Guenter Gerlach (Germany) has extensive experience with Stanhopeinae and Zygopetalinae and has made (and will make) available critical material from the Munich Botanical Garden.

Barbara Gravendeel (Netherlands) has published on Coelogyninae and is actively working on the large Bulbophyllinae (over 2000 species).

Eric Hágsater (Mexico) is the authority on Epidendrum (1100+ sp), and has extensive living, herbarium, and DNA accessions of this group and of additional Mexican taxa.

Alexander Kocyan, also at Munich Botanical Garden, has extensive experience in southeast Asian groups and is actively working on the Vandeae.

Gerardo Salazar (Mexico) is essential for his expertise on Mesoamerican taxa, as well as for his expertise on the Cranichidae.

Tomohisa Yukawa (Japan) Tsukuba Botanical Garden National Science Museum, Tsukuba, is a valuable collaborator with extensive knowledge of East Asian taxa.

Finn Rasmussen (Denmark) has published extensively on orchid morphology and anatomy, and will work closely with John Freudenstein to develop morphological matrices.

Franco Pupulin (Costa Rica) contributes extensive knowledge on systematics and especially of morphology of Central American taxa.

Gustavo Romero (USA) is curator of the Ames orchid herbarium, with its excellent collection of types and rich library. Gustavo has broad expertise in neotropical taxa.

Samantha Koehler (Brazil) is actively working on molecular systematics and pollination biology of Brazilian genera. Together, Koehler, Singer, and van den Berg have access to large living collections, DNA banks, and herbarium resources within Brazil.

Together, the group represents a diverse, world-wide assembly of some of the most active and productive researchers on Orchidaceae.

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Page last updated: 1 May 2013