Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
"The big, the bad, and the beautiful: Parasitism and the world's largest flowers"
Abstract: Parasitic plants are bizarre and have remained one of the last great challenges to resolve the flowering plant tree of life. The most charismatic of these species are Rafflesiaceae, which hold the distinction of producing the world’s largest flowers. I will discuss our efforts to clarify their evolutionary relationships. I will then draw on these findings to address their genetic and developmental origins from humbler beginnings. And finally, I will address how broad genomic studies in the group have elucidated the magnitude and directionality of host-to-parasite gene transfer in flowering plants.