Project groups


Bromeliaceae display striking evolutionary success in terrestrial as well as epiphytic habitats, nevertheless the spreading to the recent centre of diversity and evolution of crucial ecological traits could not be reconstructed yet. Subfamily Bromelioideae (approx. 810 spp.) has comparatively recently radiated in E South America. The majority of species is epiphytic, displays tank habit, Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) and is centred in coastal rainforests. Few genera are morphologically and ecologically distinct, occupying humid temperate Andean or dry lowland habitats. Our previous molecular analyses contradicted current hypotheses of character evolution in the subfamily. Nevertheless, phylogenetic resolution achieved up to now was not sufficient to unambiguously trace character evolution. By establishing highly variable nuclear markers resolution and statistical support of the phylogeny will improve considerably. The resulting phylogenetic trees will be used (1) to reconstruct evolutionary changes in climate-/ecospace, (2) to reconstruct ancestral character states, and (3) to date the diversification of Bromelioideae. For understanding the patterns of speciation processes as well as evolution of important traits and the development of present distribution, vegetation and climate history in the Cenozoic will be included in our comparative studies.

 This project is additionally funded by the German Research Foundation.


Picone, B., Masters, J., Silvestro, D., Sineo, L. & M. Del Pero (2011) : A Phylogenetic Analysis of Human Syntenies revealed by Chromosome Painting in Euarchontoglires Orders. - Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 18:131-146.

Schulte, K. & G. Zizka (2008) : Multi locus plastid phylogeny of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae) gives new insights into the taxomomic utility of petal appendages and pollen characters. - Candollea 63 (2), 209-225.

Schulte, K., Silvestro, D., Kiehlmann, E., Vesely, S., Novoa, P. & G. Zizka (2010) : Detection of recent hybridization between sympatric Chilean Puya species (Bromeliaceae) using AFLP markers and reconstruction of complex relationships. - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 1105–1119.

Silvestro, D.*, Schnitzler, J.* & G. Zizka (2011) : A Bayesian framework to estimate diversification rates and their variation through time and space. - BMC Evolutionary Biology 11:311. (* equal contribution). doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-311

Silvestro, D., Zizka, G. & K. Schulte (2013) : Disentangling the effects of key innovations on the diversification of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae). - Evolution 68 (1): 163-175.

Tirelli, T., Silvestro, D., Pessani, D. & C.C. Tudge (2010) : Description of the male reproductive system of Paguristes eremita (Anomura, Diogenidae and its placement in a phylogeny of diogenid species based on spermatozoal and spermatophore ultrastructure. - Zoologischer Anzeiger 248: 299–312.

Wagner, N., Silvestro, D., Brie, D., Ibisch, P.L., Zizka, G., Weising, K. & K. Schulte (2013) : Spatio-temporal evolution of Fosterella (Bromeliaceae) in the Central Andean biodiversity hotspot. -Journal of Biogeography 40: 869-880.