A wealth of new information, from whole-genome sequences to inventories of the earth’s biota, is rapidly transforming modern biology. Phylogeny, the genealogical roadmap of life on earth, has provided a central framework in which these data are being used to resolve the tree of life. Now that this vision is becoming a reality, biologists are increasingly turning their attention to cutting edge research that will build on this foundation to resolve longstanding questions that intersect with virtually every field of biology. Along these lines, ongoing research in plant and fungi at Harvard utilizes phylogeny to understand classification, biogeography, biome evolution, plant-insect interactions, the evolutionary development of key traits, and horizontal gene transfer.
Research in the Davis lab utilizes phylogenetic theory to integrate the disciplines of systematics, evolution, ecology, paleobiology, and molecular biology. Using field and lab based methods, recent projects have sought to understand the origins of major biomes, the implications for recent climate change, and mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer.
Research in the Pfister lab focuses on fungal phylogenetics, classification, and biogeography. Recent projects have sought to clarify the phylogeny and classification of Pezizomycetes, and the southern hemisphere biogeography of truffles.