Project groups

6-2.17 | ASSESSING GENETIC DIVERSITY AND DIVERGENCE WITHIN AND AMONG POPULATIONS OF THE THREATENED PLANT CHASMANTHERA DEPENDENS (MENISPERMACEAE) IN WEST AFRICA

Climate change on global and regional scales is predicted to alter species distributions, life histories, community composition, and ecosystem function. In particular, plant population losses caused by climate change threaten both species diversity and the delivery of critical ecosystem services. The knowledge about genetic diversity and population genetic structure of threatened plant species forms a good baseline for predicting the effects of climate change. It is important to understand the genetic variation within and between populations as this will help in the establishment of effective and efficient conservation practices for rare species.

We plan to assess the effects of climate change on biodiversity loss using the genus Chasmanthera (Menispermaceae) as a model system. The Menispermaceae are a cosmopolitan family of climbing plants and are morphologically diverse but poorly known. In West Africa, there is only one species of Chasmanthera (C. dependens) which has high ethno-medical and economic values. However, the plant is wild, poorly known and there is a risk of genetic erosion due to over-exploitation. This risk has recently increased due to climate change, the latter resulting in a decline of populations. Applying molecular methods, we hope to understand the genetic variation of populations in West Africa which will be essential for the establishment of conservation practices, especially in our changing environment.

External Research Associate
Andrew Chibuzor Iloh

Team

Dr. Juraj Paule, Researcher