Current Projects

The taxonomy of Ptilotus R.Br. and related genera in Amaranthaceae
Ptilotus gaudichaudiiAn on-going project contributing to the taxonomy of Ptilotus and relatives in the amaranth family. This project has produced numerous papers, including the resolution of species groups and description of new species (see publications). Comprehensive identification keys to the species of Ptilotus for Australia and Western Australia are available through the online KeyBase platform:
Flowering plants of Australia: Species of Ptilotus
Flowering plants of Western Australia: Species of Ptilotus
Supervisor: Kevin Thiele
Collaborator: Robert Davis

Resolving  intergeneric relationships in the aervoid clade
Aerva javanicaWe are employing a phylogenomic approach using de novo-assembled plastid genomes within Amaranthaceae to resolve the relationships between the aervoid genera and between the major clades of Ptilotus. Morphology will be utilized to support newly resolved relationships. The resulting phylogeny will inform taxonomic changes within the family and enable further research into the character evolution and biogeography within the aervoids.
Supervisors: Kevin Thiele & Ian Small
Collaborators: Paul Nevill, Catherine Colas des Francs-Small & Xiao Zhong

Historical biogeography and niche evolution within Ptilotus
PD MapPtilotus is an Australian genus with over 115 species, yet its closest relatives (~12 species) in the aervoids occur in Africa and S. Asia. We are investigating the geographic and environmental origins of the aervoids and Ptilotus, and how within Miocene and Pliocene Australia Ptilotus adapted to new niches opening up across the landscape.
Supervisors: Michael Renton, Ladislav Mucina & Kevin Thiele
Collaborator: Paul Macintyre

Physiology of phosphorus hyper-accumulation within Ptilotus and related Australian amaranths
P experimentPrevious studies have indicated that Ptilotus polystachyus (Gaudich.) F.Muell. has and ability to uptake an accumulate high concentrations of phosphorus in its leaves without suffering phosphorus toxicity. We are investigating how widespread this ability is within the genus and family and where and in what form this phosphorus is being stored in its tissues.
Supervisor: Megan Ryan
Collaborators: Daihua Ye, Jiayin Pang & Hans Lambers