HYDRANGEA SECTION CORNIDIA: towards an evolutionary tree

August 2009 until December 2013, research project and PhD thesis

In the Neotropics, Hydrangea is represented by root-climbing species belonging to the poorly known section Cornidia. Field and herbarium observations show a yet unknown number of new, already threatened species of this group. For instance, in Mexico, where our work is most advanced, we are currently describing a surprisingly high number of new species (three were known before we started with our work), the majority of which we consider as Critically Endangered according to the IUCN Red List categories and criteria.

The majority of the American species occur at higher altitudes in pristine primary forest, in order of importance: montane cloud forest, temperate forest, or rainforest. Few species grow in secondary forest. Most species are micro-endemic and restricted to a specific mountain range; only some species have a wider distribution. General population sizes are small and in many localities limited to only a few individuals. Their current distribution is potentially a relic of an ancient more common occurrence, as most localities with more or less viable populations are remote and sometimes difficult to reach.
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Relevant publications:
Granados Mendoza C, Naumann J, Samain MS, Goetghebeur P, De Smet Y, Wanke S (2015) A genome-scale mining strategy for recovering novel rapidly-evolving nuclear single-copy genes for addressing shallow-scale phylogenetics in Hydrangea. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15: 132.
Granados Mendoza C, Isnard S, Charles-Dominique T, Van den Bulcke J, Rowe NP, Van Acker J, Goetghebeur P, Samain MS. (2014) Bouldering: An alternative strategy to long vertical climbing in root-climbing lianas. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11: 20140611.
Granados Mendoza C, Wanke S, Goetghebeur P, Samain MS. (2013) Facilitating wide hybridization in Hydrangea s.l. cultivars: A phylogenetic and marker-assisted breeding approach. Molecular Breeding 32: 233-239.
Granados Mendoza C, Wanke S, Salomo K, Goetghebeur P, Samain MS. (2013) First application of the phylogenetic informativeness method to chloroplast markers: a test case of closely related species in tribe Hydrangeae (Hydrangeaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (1): 233-242.


Dr. Carolina Granados Mendoza

Laboratory technician:
Pieter Asselman

Prof. Dr. Paul Goetghebeur
Dr. Marie-Stéphanie Samain
Prof. Dr. Paul De Vos - Ghent University, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology

Members of the doctoral examination committee:
Prof. Dr. Koen Sabbe - Ghent University, Department of Biology, Research Group Protistology and Aquatic Ecology (PAE)
Prof. Dr. Mieke Verbeken - Ghent University, Department of Biology, Research Group Mycology
Prof. Dr. Olivier De Clerck - Ghent University, Department of Biology, Phycology Research Group
Prof. Dr. Ir. Joris Van Acker - Ghent University, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Laboratory of Wood Technology - Woodlab
Prof. Dr. Tom Beeckman, VIB, Tom Beeckman Lab
Dr. Stefan Wanke - TU Dresden, Germany

Dr. Stefan Wanke - TU Dresden, Germany
Dr. Nick Rowe - CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), UMR AMAP, Montpellier, France Dr. Sandrine Isnard - IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), UMR AMAP, New Caledonia
Esteban Martínez - Herbario Nacional, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

BOF (Special Research Fund) PhD research grant (n° 01J03309)

Research Foundation Flanders international mobility grant

King Léopold III Foundation for the Exploration and Protection of Nature international mobility grant

Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (n° 11251854)

TU Dresden, Biology Department, Germany (grant for lab work performed at the TU Dresden)
BMBF (Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung) - KMU-innovativ 9: Biotechnologie - BioChance, Germany (grant to German partner)

COMECYT (Consejo Mexiquense de Ciencia y Tecnología), Mexico

Ghent University
Department of Biology
Research Group Spermatophytes
Ghent University Botanical Garden