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Morphological, Anatomical and Molecular Analysis of Plant Phylogeny and Diversity

By Sierra Dawn Beecher1, J. Phil Gibson2

1. Virginia Commonwealth University 2. University of Oklahoma

In this lab, students perform phylogenetic analyses on morphological, anatomical and molecular data, and compare.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Plants by the Numbers II

Version 1.0 - published on 20 Dec 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4JQ76 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Adapted from: Morphological and Molecular Analysis of Plant Phylogeny and Diversity v 1.0


Evolutionary biologists use morphological, anatomical, ecological, genetic, and other forms of data in phylogenetic analyses to test hypotheses that investigate different biological questions. Because each type of data has its own, assumptions, strengths, and limitations, it is important to recognize these features of the data and take them into consideration when interpreting results.

This laboratory module explores plant diversity and evolution through phylogenetic analyses using 1) plant morphological and anatomical data, 2) stelar architecture and 3) molecular data. The combination of analyses using different forms of data will promote deeper understanding of important evolutionary innovations, patterns of diversity, and major trends in plant evolution. In this exercise, you will collect morphological and anatomical data from plants you collect from local ecotypes to construct an initial phylogeny of the study organisms that describes broad patterns of trait evolution among taxa. Next, you will compare your data with researched molecular phylogenies using all three genomes (nuclear, chloroplast, and mitochondrial) for a more fine-grained analysis of relationships among taxa. You will then use the data from the different data sets, including old and modern literature, to develop a consensus phylogeny to describe relationships among taxa and patterns of trait evolution. Comparisons of phylogenies also provides an opportunity for critical analysis of phylogenetic data interpretation. 


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This version includes microscopy of stele anatomy as a phylogenetic trait

This version does not include ClustalW analysis

Plants by the Numbers II

Plants by the Numbers II group image

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