Project groups


A major aim of the project is the investigation of the spatio-temporal evolution of the monophyletic tribe Cedreleae (New World Cedrela, Old World Toona) in the light of global climate change and tectonic history from Paleocene to Pliocene. Climate change during this period of time is known to have been a driving force for shaping spatial patterns of Meliaceae (Muellner et al., 2006). The distribution range of Cedrela comprises Central and South America (New World), whereas Toona is distributed throughout India, Indo-China, Malesia, and Australasia (Old World). From Eocene to Miocene the two genera were both part of the tropical flora of the Northern Hemisphere, which is corroborated by a number of fossil findings in Eurasia and North America and in areas formerly linking the continents (North Atlantic land bridge, Beringia). For Cedrela, multiple fossil findings indicate southward migration from North America to Central America from the Miocene to Pliocene. We will employ multi-gene phylogenies for both genera on specific and infra-specific level, set in a temporal context by fossil calibrations or constraints. We will also consider the geographical and ecological attributes of species and knowledge about the geological history of the distributional areas.

This Project is funded by the German Research Foundation.


Köcke, A.V., Muellner-Riehl, A.N., Pennington, T.D., Schorr, G. & J. Schnitzler (2013) : Niche evolution through time and across continents: the story of Neotropical Cedrela (Meliaceae). - American Journal of Botany 100: 1800-1810.

Muellner, A.N., Lahaye, R. & U. Schäfer (2011) : Evaluation of DNA barcodes for economically important timber species of the mahogany family (Meliaceae). - Molecular Ecology Resources 11: 450-460. 

Muellner, A.N., Pennington, T.D. & M. Chase (2009) : Molecular phylogenetics of Neotropical Cedreleae (mahogany family, Meliaceae) based on nuclear and plastid DNA sequences reveal multiple origins of “Cedrela odorata”. - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52: 461-469.

Muellner, A.N., Pennington, T.D., Koecke, A.V. & S.S. Renner (2010) : Biogeography of Cedrela (Meliaceae, Sapindales) in Central and South America. - American Journal of Botany 97, 511-518.

Pennington, T.D. & A.N. Muellner (2010) : A monograph of Cedrela. - Pp 112. DH Books, Sherborne, UK.