My research interests include evolutionary biology, systematics, pollination, biogeography and taxonomy and their application to a wide range of plant groups, including Lamiaceae, Arecaceae, Araliaceae, Araucariaceae, Plagiochilaceae, Proteaceae and Vitaceae.
As an ABRS (Australian Biological Resources Study) postdoctoral fellow, I focus on the Lamiaceae (mint family). The Lamiaceae are one of the largest families of vascular plants and have been identified in Australia as a taxon in significant need of greater understanding of its biodiversity and development of tools to identify species.
Systematics and population genetics Australian Ajugoideae
Collaborators: A/Prof Murray Henwood (The University of Sydney), Drs Elizabeth James (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria), Neville Walsh (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria), Chun-Lei Xiang (Chinese Academy of Science) and Bo Li (Jiangxi Agricultural University).
Numerous genera of the subfamily Ajugoideae (Lamiaceae) appear to have diversified across the Australian continent and represent a collective of challenges in systematics. This project is the first comprehensive revision of the Australian members of the subfamily Ajugoideae (Lamiaceae) and is using data from vouchered specimens of Ajuga, Clerodendrum, Glossocarya, Oxera and Teucrium using the latest high-throughput DNA sequencing methods. Molecular data from specimens collected from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe will be analyzed to identify infra/intergeneric relationships. The focus is to improve understanding of the Australian flora (e.g. new species, diagnostic keys, Flora of Australia); 2) assist biodiversity management (e.g. a baseline understanding of genetic diversity); 3) reveal Australia's past and future (e.g. impact of environmental change on distribution).
Systematics and population genetics of Australian Plectranthus
Collaborators: Mr Joel Callaghan, A/Prof Murray Henwood (The University of Sydney), Drs Matt Renner, Maurizio Rossetto, Marlien van der Merwe, Paul Forster (Queensland Herbarium), and Alan Paton (Kew Botanic Gardens).
Plectranthus (Lamiaceae) comprises ~300 species of succulents, shrubs, and herbs distributed across the old world tropics, with highest centres of species diversity in Africa and Australia. The number of Australian Plectranthus species has been increasing rapidly. There is currently no Australian-wide treatment or key, and impediments to this are numerous taxa that await description as well as some highly morphologically variable taxa. This project enlists a careful integration of molecular and morphological data to find good field characters and robust systematic concepts. Currently, the first phylogeny of Australian Plectranthus (Lamiaceae) is being constructed using next generation technology to sequence chloroplast genomic and ribosomal cistron data. Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) data is also be used to break down species difficult to resolve species complexes like that of P. parviflorus.
Systematics of Prostantheroideae: a diverse subfamily of Lamiaceae endemic to Australia
Collaborators: Dr Barry Conn and A/Prof Murray Henwood (The University of Sydney), and Drs Regine Claßen-Bockhoff (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz) and Greg Guerin (University of Adelaide)
The endemic Australian subfamily is a group of over 300 species, identified most commonly through the attractive horticultural shrub of the genus Prostanthera. This massive project is aimed at tackling generic and species limits within the Prostantheroideae (Lamiaceae) using a combination of morphological and molecular taxonomic procedures. This project is the first rigorous, comprehensive revision of this subfamily of the Lamiaceae since Bentham (1867) and is discovering some surprising results with evolution of floral morphology and pollination mechanisms that contest the current classification. The delineation of several generic boundaries and species complexes are being examined using qualitative data before so a correct treatment of these Australian endemic Lamiaceae can be achieved.
Phylogenetics of Astrotricha (Araliaceae)
Collaborators: Mr Richard Dimon, Drs Matt Renner, Marlien van der Merwe, and A/Prof Murray Henwood (University of Sydney)
Astrotricha is endemic to Australia, comprising around 25 species in mesic, monsoon, and semi-arid zones. Most diversity is in south-east Australia, however species circumscription remains problematic. This project, which formed the basis for an honours thesis, seeks to resolve the relationships of Astrotricha within the Araliaceae, resolve relationships among species, to provide a robust phylogenetic framework upon which revisionary studies can proceed, and understand the timing and tempo of speciation across Australia.
For a complete publication list, see my ResearchGate profile.
Wilson TC, Forster PI 2018 Plectranthus laxus and P. wallamanensis (Lamiaceae), new species from tropical Queensland, Australia. Australian Systematic Botany. 31(6) 433-447
Renner MAM, Wilson TC 2018 Two new species of Acromastigum (Lepidoziaceae: Jungermanniopsida) from Queensland, Australia. Telopea 21: 45–55.
Wilson TC, Conn BJ, Henwood MJ 2017 Great expectations: assessment of correlation between pollinator assemblages and floral characters. International Journal of Plant Sciences 178:170–187.
Hipperson H, Dunning L, Butlin R, Devaux C, Smadja C, Hutton I, Wilson TC, Baker B,
Savolainen V 2016 Ecological speciation in sympatric palms: 2. Pre- and post-zygotic
isolation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology.
Wilson TC, Conn BJ, Henwood MJ 2012 Molecular phylogeny and systematics of Prostanthera Labill. (Lamiaceae). Australian Systematic Botany. 25:341–352.
Wilson TC, Gerrath JM and Posluszny U 2006 Morphological and anatomical development in the Vitaceae VIII. Comparative development of three species of Cyphostemma (Vitaceae) reveals important vegetative and reproductive differences among the species. Canadian Journal of Botany 84(5): 702-716.
In the media
ABC Gardening Australia with Angus Stewart, Native Mints, November 2016.