USFQ researcher and UNC Adjunct Faculty, Dr. Gonzalo Rivas-Torres and his team, have collaborated with the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid to show one of the most important results of their “Scalesia project” that seeks to explore evolutionary, ecological, and conservation aspects of this group of endemic species and Genus for the Galapagos.
Rivas-Torres and collaborators recently published an article titled “The Radiation of Darwin’s Giant Daisies in the Galapagos Islands” in the journal Current Biology. This paper is groundbreaking work on the distribution and evolution of Scalesia, a plant present in the Galapagos archipelago. This work is scientifically analogous to the study of Darwin’s famous finches.
This paper shows a time-calibrated phylogenomic analysis based on genotyping-by-sequencing data  of the 15 species of Scalesia (Darwin’s giant daisies), an iconic and understudied plant radiation endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Results support a Pliocene to early Pleistocene divergence between Scalesia and the closest South American relatives, and rapid diversification of extant Scalesia species from a common ancestor dated to the Middle Pleistocene.