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Researching the diversity of one of the most surprising angiosperm groups discovered in broad molecular phylogenetic studies.

The Malpighiales are one of the most surprising angiosperm groups discovered in broad molecular phylogenetic studies. The close relationship of its 36 constituent families had not been indicated in earlier morphological studies, which spread the families across 13 separate orders. Numerous molecular analyses have now confirmed the monophyly of the Malpighiales, although relationships within the group remain poorly understood.

The order contains just under eight percent of eudicot diversity and is particularly important in tropical rainforests where it is a significant component of the diversity of the understorey. It accounts for up to some 28 percent of the species and 38 percent of the total stems. Economically important species include cassava (Manihot, Euphorbiaceae), flax (Linum, Linaceae), poplar (Populus, Salicaceae) and natural rubber (Hevea, Euphorbiaceae). The order also includes coca (Erythroxylum, Erythroxylaceae), passion fruit and passion flowers (Passiflora, Passifloraceae), mangroves (Rhizophoraceae) and Rafflesia arnoldii (Rafflesiaceae), the largest flower in the world.

Constituent families include: 

Achariaceae, Balanopaceae, Bonnetiaceae, Calophyllaceae, Caryocaraceae, Centroplacaceae, Chrysobalanaceae, Clusiaceae, Ctenolophonaceae, Dichapetalaceae, Elatinaceae, Erythroxylaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Euphroniaceae, Goupiaceae, Humiriaceae, Hypericaceae, Irvingiaceae, Ixonanthaceae, Lacistemataceae, Linaceae, Lophopyxidaceae, Malpighiaceae, Ochnaceae (including Medusagynaceae and Quiinaceae), Pandaceae, Passifloraceae (including Malesherbiaceae and Turneraceae), Peraceae, Phyllanthaceae, Picrodendraceae, Podostemaceae, Putranjivaceae, Rafflesiaceae, Rhizophoraceae, Salicaceae, Trigoniaceae, Violaceae. The order contains about 700 genera and 16,000 species.

The Malpighiales Team has a range of projects treating diversity within the order, including broad morphological, anatomical and phytochemical surveys, systematic reviews of particular groups and evo-devo work exploring organ-flower-inflorescence boundaries. The team also has curatorial/identification responsibilities for the Herbarium collections of selected malpighiaceous families, including Euphorbiaceae and allies.


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