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Completing the plant Tree of Life

Completing the Flowering Plant Tree of Life with Angiosperms353

Discovering the tree of life is among the most fundamental of the grand challenges remaining in science today. With new phylogenomic methods, it is now possible to build increasingly complete phylogenetic hypotheses based on broad genomic sampling.

The Plant and Fungal Trees of Life (PAFTOL) project at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew aims to generate phylogenomic data for every genus of plant and fungi. In this talk, we report our progress towards completing a genus-level phylogeny of angiosperms. To achieve our goal, we developed the Angiosperms353 toolkit for target sequence capture, with which we have now sequenced over 5000 samples covering more than 30% of the 14,000 angiosperm genera. In addition to the reconstruction of higher-level relationships, we have also gained insights into the application of Angiosperms353 to species-level questions, including within rapid radiations, indicating the great potential of this toolkit in comparative and evolutionary biology. We have also shed light on data recovery on a broad phylogenetic scale. We found that the toolkit yields good quality data across angiosperms and even from challenging samples (such as herbarium specimens up to 200 years old). PAFTOL subscribes to an open data agenda and aims to release its data early and often via the Kew Tree of Life Explorer. This new web portal will provide access to raw data, intermediates (assembled data, alignments, gene trees) and a navigable tree of life based on all released data. The universal nature of Angiosperms353 provides important opportunities for future integration of phylogenomic data. To achieve this, transparent and open mechanisms for collaboration and data sharing will be essential.

Dr William Baker from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew presents his work in the video below (online seminar talk given on Wednesday, 16 December 2020).

For details of access to this e-seminar or more information about our seminars and future announcements, please contact Hervé Sauquet.