Project groups


Bromeliaceae are species-rich (58 genera, 3245 species) in terrestrial and epiyphyitc habitats of the Neotropics. The family is well-suited as a model group for understanding the evolution of epiphytism and the associated morphological and physiological adaptations. Subfamily Bromelioideae (ca. 810 species) has undergone a comparatively recent radiation in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil. However, early branching representatives of the subfamily apparently originated in the Andes and the drier Cerrado and Campos rupestres.

Based on our phylogeny, which includes about 500 species, and cytologenetic data (DNA amount, ploidy level), we investigate (i) the time-frame of the colonization of the Cerrados/Campos rupestres/Atlantic rainforest, (ii) the historical biogeography of Bromelioideae, and (iii) niche evolution and the role of island-like habitats during diversification.

The project is conducted in cooperation with our Brazilian colleagues (Prof. Dr. Ana Maria Benko-Iseppon, Prof. Dr. Marccus Alves, both University of Recife; Elton Leme, Teresópolis; Prof. Dr. Maria das Graças Wanderley, São Paulo; Dr. Rafaela Forzza, Rio de Janeiro). Additional partners are Dr. Katharina Schulte, James Cook University, Cairns, and Dr. Daniele Silvestro, University of Gothenburg.

Actually, we have a joint research project in the framework of the PROBRAL program (DAAD/CAPES), during which Brazilian partners work in Frankfurt and joint field work in Brazil is carried out. Prof. Dr. Kurt Weising of the University of Kassel is also involved as a German partner.


Dressler, S., Gregor, T., Otte, V., Paule, J., Ritz, C., Wesche, K. & J. Wesenberg (2013) : Forschungen zur heimischen Flora. - Senckenberg – Natur, Forschung, Museum 143 (7/8): 254-255.

Givnish, T.J., Barfuss, M.H.J., Van Ee, B., Riina, R., Schulte, K., Horres, R., Gonsiska, P.A., Jabaily, R.S., Crayn, D.M., Smith, J.A.C., Winter, K., Brown, G.K., Evans, T.M., Holst, B.K., Luther, H., Till, W., Zizka, G., Berry, P.E. & K.J. Sytsma (2014) : Adaptive radiation, correlated and contingent evolution, and net species diversification in Bromeliaceae. - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71: 55-78.

Schneider, J.V., Schulte, K., Fuertes Aguilar, J. & M.L. Huertas (2011) : Molecular evidence for hybridization and introgression in the neotropical coastal desert-endemic Palaua (Malveae, Malvaceae). - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 60: 373-384.

Schneider, J.V. (2013) : The Peruvian species of Cristaria (Malveae, Malvaceae): taxonomic revision, chromosome counts, and breeding system. - Phytotaxa 110(1): 31–47.

Silvestro, D., Zizka, G. & K. Schulte (2014) : Disentangling the effects of key innovations on the diversification of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae). - Evolution 68 (1): 163-175.

Zizka, G., Schneider, J.V., Schulte, K. & P. Novoa (2013) : Taxonomic revision of the Chilean Puya species (Puyoideae, Bromeliaceae), with special notes on the Puya alpestris-Puya berteroniana species complex. - Brittonia. DOI 10.1007/s12228-012-9290-9.