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Biogeography and Evolution of the Atacama Desert Flora

Our Atacama team has been awarded for the best poster at the XII Congreso Latinoamericano De Botanica in Quito (October 2018)

The Atacama Desert, located on the western side of the Andes in northern Chile, harbors a range of endemic species adapted to hyperarid habitats. Vegetation is largely restricted to coastal fog oases and the Andean foothills, which are separated by a largely vegetation-free zone. In the context of a large-scale project on landscape and biotic evolution of hyperarid environments, we investigate the origin and diversification of three plant groups as well as gene-flow between populations of four widely distributed plant taxa in the Atacama Desert. Diversifications have been shown to be surprisingly recent in some Atacama clades, which is at odds with the high age assumed for this desert. Here, we report the results of a molecular dating analysis of the Atacama endemic Cristaria (Malvaceae) based on three plastid markers. Furthermore, we present preliminary data on gene-flow among populations of four species of Ophryosporus (Asteraceae) using Genotyping-By-Sequencing data.

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