Selena Smith awarded NSF grant to study Zingiberales (gingers).

By 2014 Editor
Jan 10, 2014 Bookmark and Share


Alpinia (ginger-lily) flower, Spirematospermum fruit, and Musa (banana) flowers and fruits. The extinct Spirematospermum is only known from fossil fruits and seeds. As the oldest and longest-occurring fossils of Zingiberales, Spirematospermum is key to understanding the early history of Zingiberales

Earth and Environmental Sciences research scientist Dr. Selena Smith and her collaborator Dr. Chelsea Specht (UC Berkeley) have been awarded a four-year NSF grant to study the genetic, morphological, and ecological evolution of Zingiberales over geologic time scales. The Order Zingiberales is a diverse group of economically and ecologically important tropical plants including bananas, gingers, bird-of-paradise, and canna lilies. Morphological data from living and fossil species will be combined with DNA sequence and plastome data to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among species and the timing of important evolutionary events. The geographical distribution of living and fossil species and changes in their ecology through time will then be examined to understand how these plants have adapted to different regions and climates through time.