Tecticornia & Salicornia (Samphires)

Aim: Phylogenomics Stage 2
Project initiation: Aug 2021
Project lead:  Kelly Shepherd | Western Australian Herbarium, Biodiversity and Conservation Science, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

Reproduced with permission from Kelly Shepherd.

Project description:

Kelly Shepherd from the Western Australian Herbarium (@Science_DBCA) and her international collaborators Anze Zerdoner Calasan (@AnzeCalasan) and Gudrun Kadereit at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany are partnering with Bioplatforms Australia (@BioplatformsAus, @PlantsAus) to unlock the secrets of salt-loving samphires. They will be using Angiosperm 353 data to investigate phylogenetic and taxonomic relationships within the genera Tecticornia and Salicornia (Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae). Samphires form the dominant vegetation community in estuarine and inland saline habitats across the Australian continent. Despite their ubiquitous presence in these harsh landscapes, they remain a taxonomically recalcitrant group and are generally very poorly understood. This is due to their highly modified and reduced vegetative and floral features, high levels of polyploidy, and presence of potentially cryptic taxa in large species complexes. Previous phylogenetic Sanger sequencing studies have shown inadequate resolution due to very low sequencing variation in both chloroplast and nuclear DNA. This team will undertake next generation phylogenomic analyses to test the monophyly of Australian samphires and assess if potentially new taxa are genetically distinct.