Unkaria sp.
Uncaria sp.

Birgitta Bremer´s plant molecular lab at the Bergius Foundation has been focused on one of the most important and diverse flowering plant families, coffee family or Rubiaceae.

The Rubiaceae is the fifth largest flowering plant familiy with over 13 000 species and mostly tropical or subtropical but with about five hundred species in the temperate regions. The members of the family inhabit various habitats and are important components of different ecosystems. There is a considerable diversity in habits and flower and fruit sizes and shapes, which attract various pollinators and a range of animal dispersers, respectively. Many Rubiaceae are economically important (e.g., Coffea, Cinchona as a source of quinine). Within the family we recognize three major lineages formally recognized as subfamilies, Cinchonoideae, Ixoroideae, and Rubioideae.

Research conducted in Bremer´s lab mostly involved using DNA sequence data and a range of phylogenetic methods to reconstruct phylogenies of different groups of Rubiaceae at all taxonomic levels. The phylogenetic hypotheses (resulting phylogenies) have been used as frameworks for assessing relationships among different species or groups of species, pinpointing the phylogenetic positions of enigmatic genera, basing new phylogenetic classifications, and addressing ecological, evolutionary, and biogeographical questions. Parts of the research have dealt particularly with Madagascar and its many endemic Rubiaceae species.

Bild av Mussaenda sp.
Mussaenda sp. Foto: Kent Kainulainen

Some specific projects in the lab studied the higher level of phylogenetic relationships and character evolution in all subfamilies (Cinchonoideae, Ixoroideae, and Rubioideae), tribal delimitations (e.g., tribes Argostemmateae, Alberteae, Condamineeae, Gardenieae, Ixoreae, Lasiantheae, Morindeae, Naucleeae, Urophylleae), phylogenetic dating and biogeography (e.g., historical biogeography of the Malagasy Rubiaceae), taxonomic revisions (e.g., Bremeria, Schismatoclada). For more details, please visit the list of publications.