Oscar Alejandro Pérez-Escobar

Oscar Alejandro Pérez-Escobar
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew · Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology

PhD

About

108
Publications
55,073
Reads
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1,278
Citations
Citations since 2017
79 Research Items
1213 Citations
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Introduction
Orchid Sainsbury Research Leader working at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. My research focuses on orchid evolution and diversification in the Neotropics, but I am also interested in plant comparative genomics. I make use of phylogenetic comparative methods, bioinformatics, sanger, and next-generation​ sequencing techniques.
Additional affiliations
October 2016 - October 2019
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Position
  • Research Associate
August 2016 - October 2016
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
Position
  • PostDoc Position
April 2012 - July 2016
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
Position
  • PhD Student
Description
  • Phylogenetics and Biogeography of Catasetinae Phylogenomics and population genetics of Cycnoches
Education
April 2012 - July 2016
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
Field of study
  • Plant systematics and evolution
July 2004 - July 2010
National University of Colombia
Field of study
  • Agronomy

Publications

Publications (108)
Article
Full-text available
The Andean mountains of South America are the most species-rich biodiversity hotspot worldwide with c. 15% of the world’s plant species, in only 1% of the world’s land surface. Orchids are a key element of the Andean flora, and one of the most prominent components of the Neotropical epiphyte diversity, yet very little is known about their origin an...
Article
Full-text available
Phylogenetic relationships inferred from multilocus organellar and nuclear DNA data are often difficult to resolve because of evolutionary conflicts among gene trees. However, conflicting or 'outlier' associations (i.e., linked pairs of Operational Terminal Units in two phylogenies) among these data sets often provide valuable information on evolut...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Andean uplift is one of the major orographic events in the New World and has impacted considerably the diversification of numerous Neotropical organisms. Despite its importance for biogeography, the specific role of mountain ranges as a dispersal barrier between South and Central American lowland plant lineages is still poorly understood. The s...
Article
A species new to science of a miniature orchid, endemic to the humid Pacific lowland, Municipality of Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca, Colombia), is described and illustrated. Ophidion erectilabrum sp. nov. is morphologically similar to O. alphonsianum, but the new species is recognized by the orbicular leaves (vs. elliptic), the erect inflorescence,...
Article
Full-text available
Madagascar's biota is hyperdiverse and includes exceptional levels of endemicity. We review the current state of knowledge on Madagascar's past and current terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity by compiling and presenting comprehensive data on species diversity, endemism, and rates of species description and human uses, in addition to presenting...
Article
Full-text available
Madagascar's unique biota is heavily affected by human activity and is under intense threat. Here, we review the current state of knowledge on the conservation status of Madagascar's terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity by presenting data and analyses on documented and predicted species-level conservation statuses, the most prevalent and relevan...
Cover Page
Full-text available
This list is the basis for a paper that we have submitted, "Beyond the various contrivances by which orchids are pollinated: global patterns in orchid pollination biology." Abstract: The Orchidaceae shows remarkable diversity in pollination strategies but how these strategies vary globally is not entirely clear. To identify regions and taxa that a...
Article
Full-text available
The origins and evolution of the outstanding Neotropical biodiversity are a matter of intense debate. A comprehensive understanding is hindered by the lack of deep-time comparative data across wide phylogenetic and ecological contexts. Here, we quantify the prevailing diversification trajectories and drivers of Neotropical diversification in a samp...
Article
Full-text available
The Andean fever tree (Cinchona L.; Rubiaceae) is a source of bioactive quinine alkaloids used to treat malaria. C. pubescens Vahl is a valuable cash crop within its native range in northwestern South America, however, genomic resources are lacking. Here we provide the first highly contiguous and annotated nuclear and plastid genome assemblies usin...
Article
Full-text available
Iconographic evidence from Egypt suggests that watermelon pulp was consumed there as a dessert by 4,360 BP. Earlier archaeobotanical evidence comes from seeds from Neolithic settlements in Libya, but whether these were watermelons with sweet pulp or other forms is unknown. We generated genome sequences from 6,000- and 3,300-yr-old seeds from Libya...
Article
Full-text available
Reliably documenting plant diversity is necessary to protect and sustainably benefit from it. At the heart of this documentation lie species concepts and the practical methods used to delimit taxa. Here, we apply a total-evidence, iterative methodology to delimit and document species in the South American genus Victoria (Nymphaeaceae). The systemat...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: Climate change is expected to impact mountain biodiversity by shifting species ranges and the biomes they shape. The extent and regional variation in these impacts are still poorly understood, particularly in the highly biodiverse Andes. Regional syntheses of climate change impacts on vegetation are pivotal to identify and guide research prio...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cophylogeny represents a framework to understand how ecological and evolutionary process influence lineage diversification. However, linking patterns to mechanisms remains a major challenge. The recently developed Random Tanglegram Partitions provides a directly interpretable statistic to quantify the strength of cophylogenetic signal, maps onto a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background The Andean fever tree ( Cinchona L.; Rubiaceae) is the iconic source of bioactive quinine alkaloids which have been key to treating malaria for centuries. In particular, C. pubescens Vahl has been an important source of income for several countries in its native range in north-western South America. However, the genomic resources require...
Article
Full-text available
A new species of Acianthera from the relict cloud forests of Valle del Cauca, Colombia is described and illustrated. This new species, Acianthera hagsateri, morphologically resembles A. geminicaulina, A. decurrens, and A. erythrogramma, but differs from them by its shorter plants and stems, the elliptic and obtuse smaller leaves, the racemose, 1–3...
Article
Full-text available
The Andes are the world's most biodiverse mountain chain, encompassing a complex array of ecosystems from tropical rainforests to alpine habitats. We provide a synthesis of Andean vascular plant diversity by estimating a list of all species with publicly available records, which we integrate with a phylogenetic dataset of 14 501 Neotropical plant s...
Article
The Northern Andean Cordillera in Colombia hosts unique, megadiverse, and fragile ecosystems, including wet tropical lowland, cloud forest, and paramo that are essential for climate regulation and the subsistence of human settlements. The Serrania de Los Paraguas on the Pacific slope of the western range of the Northern Andes, Colombia, is an ecosy...
Article
Full-text available
Farming of fungi by ants, termites, or beetles has led to ecologically successful societies fueled by industrial-scale food production. Another type of obligate insect agriculture in Fiji involves the symbiosis between the ant Philidris nagasau and epiphytes in the genus Squamellaria (Rubiaceae) that the ants fertilize, defend, harvest, and depend...
Article
Full-text available
With c. 2,000 species, Euphorbia is one of the largest angiosperm genera, yet a lack of chloroplast genome (plastome) resources impedes a better understanding of its evolution. In this study, we assembled and annotated 28 plastomes from Euphorbiaceae, of which 15 were newly sequenced. Phylogenomic and comparative analyses of 22 plastome sequences f...
Article
Full-text available
Premise To further advance the understanding of the species-rich, economically and ecologically important angiosperm order Myrtales in the rosid clade, comprising nine families, approximately 400 genera and almost 14,000 species occurring on all continents (except Antarctica), we tested the Angiosperms353 probe kit. Methods We combined high-throug...
Article
Full-text available
Premise: The inference of evolutionary relationships in the species-rich family Orchidaceae has hitherto relied heavily on plastid DNA sequences and limited taxon sampling. Previous studies have provided a robust plastid phylogenetic framework, which was used to classify orchids and investigate the drivers of orchid diversification. However, the e...
Article
Full-text available
The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, has been a cornerstone of Middle Eastern and North African agriculture for millennia. It was first domesticated in the Persian Gulf, and its evolution appears to have been influenced by gene flow from two wild relatives, P. theophrasti, currently restricted to Crete and Turkey, and P. sylvestris, widespread from...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Wild progenitors of crops are important resources for breeding and for understanding domestication, but identifying them is difficult. Using an integrative approach, we discovered that a Sudanese form of melon with nonbitter whitish pulp, known as the Kordofan melon, is the closest relative of domesticated watermelons and a possible pr...
Article
Full-text available
Recent phylogenomic analyses based on the maternally inherited plastid organelle have enlightened evolutionary relationships between the subfamilies of Orchidaceae and most of the tribes. However, uncertainty remains within several subtribes and genera for which phylogenetic relationships have not ever been tested in a phylogenomic context. To addr...
Preprint
Full-text available
The origin of the outstanding Neotropical biodiversity is still debated. A comprehensive understanding is hindered by the lack of deep-time comparative data across wide phylogenetic and ecological contexts. Here we define and evaluate four evolutionary scenarios assuming different diversity trajectories and drivers of Neotropical diversification. R...
Article
Unprecedented changes in the Earth’s biota are prompting urgent efforts to describe and conserve plant diversity. For centuries, botanical monographs — comprehensive systematic treatments of a family or genus — have been the gold standard for disseminating scientific information to accelerate research. The lack of a monograph compounds the risk tha...
Article
Full-text available
Plastid sequences have long dominated phylogeny reconstruction at all time depths, predicated on a usually untested assumption that they accurately represent the evolutionary histories of phenotypically circumscribed species. We combined detailed in situ morphometrics (124 plants) and whole-plastome sequencing through genome skimming (71 plants) in...
Article
Full-text available
The mega-diversity of herbivorous insects is attributed to their co-evolutionary associations with plants. Despite abundant studies on insect-plant interactions, we do not know whether host-plant shifts have impacted both genomic adaptation and species diversification over geological times. We show that the antagonistic insect-plant interaction bet...
Preprint
Full-text available
The date palm ( Phoenix dactylifera ) has been a cornerstone of Middle Eastern and North African agriculture for millennia. It is presumed that date palms were first domesticated in the Persian Gulf and subsequently introduced into North Africa, where their evolution in the latter region appears to have been influenced by gene flow from the wild re...
Preprint
Full-text available
Premise of the study Evolutionary relationships in the species-rich Orchidaceae have historically relied on organellar DNA sequences and limited taxon sampling. Previous studies provided a robust plastid-maternal phylogenetic framework, from which multiple hypotheses on the drivers of orchid diversification have been derived. However, the extent to...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we explain what DNA barcoding means and its utility for palm research and conservation.
Article
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Biodiversity is essential to food security and nutrition locally and globally. By reviewing the global state of edible plants and highlighting key neglected and underutilized species (NUS), we attempt to unlock plant food resources and explore the role of fungi, which along with the wealth of traditional knowledge about their uses and practices, co...
Article
Full-text available
Bioenergy is a major component of the global transition to renewable energy technologies. The plant and fungal kingdoms offer great potential but remain mostly untapped. Their increased use could contribute to the renewable energy transition and addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sus...
Book
Full-text available
Kew’s State of the World’s Plants and Fungi project provides assessments of our current knowledge of the diversity of plants and fungi on Earth, the global threats that they face, and the policies to safeguard them. Produced in conjunction with an international scientific symposium, Kew’s State of the World’s Plants and Fungi sets an important inte...
Article
Full-text available
Hybridisation has the potential to generate or homogenize biodiversity and is a particularly common phenomenon in plants, with an estimated 25% of plant species undergoing inter‐specific gene flow. However, hybridisation in Amazonia’s megadiverse tree flora was assumed to be extremely rare despite extensive sympatry between closely related species,...
Article
Full-text available
Bioenergy is a major component of the global transition to renewable energy technologies. The plant and fungal kingdoms offer great potential but remain mostly untapped. Their increased use could contribute to the renewable energy transition and addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sus...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the biogeographical and diversification processes explaining current diversity patterns of subcosmopolitan-distributed groups is challenging. We aimed at disentangling the historical biogeography of the subcosmopolitan liverwort genus Lejeunea with estimation of ancestral areas of origin and testing if sexual system and palaeotemperat...
Article
Full-text available
A therapeutic solution to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is urgently needed, but new drug discovery and development are lengthy processes. Pharmaceuticals derived from plants and fungi remain important in our armory against numerous diseases (1, 2), yet much of plant and fungal biodiversity remains unexplored for drug discovery (3...
Preprint
Full-text available
The exuberant proliferation of herbivorous insects is attributed to their associations with plants. Despite abundant studies on insect-plant interactions, we do not know whether host-plant shifts have impacted both genomic adaptation and species diversification over geological times. We show that the antagonistic insect-plant interaction between sw...
Article
Full-text available
Symbiosis is a key driver of evolutionary novelty and ecological diversity, but our understanding of how macroevolutionary processes originate extant symbiotic associations is still very incomplete. Cophylogenetic tools are used to assess the congruence between the phylogenies of two groups of organisms related by extant associations. If phylogenet...
Preprint
Full-text available
This pre-print is currently under consideration at Molecular Ecology. Hybridization has the potential to generate or homogenize biodiversity and is a particularly common phenomenon in plants, with an estimated 25% of species undergoing inter-specific gene flow. However, hybridization in Amazonia’s megadiverse tree flora was assumed to be extremely...
Article
Poor morphological and molecular differentiation in recently diversified lineages is a widespread phenomenon in plants. Phylogenetic relationships within such species complexes are often difficult to resolve because of the low variability in traditional molecular loci. Furthermore, biological phenomena responsible for topological incongruence such...
Article
Full-text available
Allopolyploidy is acknowledged as an important force in plant evolution. Frequent allopolyploidy in Nicotiana across different timescales permits the evaluation of genome restructuring and repeat dynamics through time. Here we use a clustering approach on high-throughput sequence reads to identify the main classes of repetitive elements following t...
Article
Full-text available
Extremely high levels of plant diversity in the American tropics are derived from multiple interactions between biotic and abiotic factors. Previous studies have focused on macro-evolutionary dynamics of the Tropical Andes, Amazonia, and Brazil’s Cerrado and Atlantic forests during the last decade. Yet, other equally important Neotropical biodivers...
Article
Full-text available
Taxonomic delimitations are challenging because of the convergent and variable nature of phenotypic traits. This is evident in species-rich lineages, where the ancestral and derived states and their gains and losses are difficult to assess. Phylogenetic comparative methods help to evaluate the convergent evolution of a given morphological character...
Article
Full-text available
Taxonomic delimitations are challenging because of the convergent and variable nature of phenotypic traits. This is evident in species-rich lineages, where the ancestral and derived states and their gains and losses are difficult to assess. Phylogenetic comparative methods help to evaluate the convergent evolution of a given morphological character...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent phylogenomic analyses have solved evolutionary relationships between most of the Orchidaceae subfamilies and tribes, yet phylogenetic relationships remain unclear within the hyperdiverse tribe Cymbidieae and within the Orchidoideae subfamily. Here we address these knowledge-gaps by focusing taxon sampling on the Cymbidieae subtribes Stanhope...
Article
More than 31,000 useful plant species have been documented to fulfil needs and services for humans or the animals and environment we depend on. Despite this diversity, humans currently satisfy most requirements with surprisingly few plant species; for example, just three crops – rice, wheat and maize – comprise more than 50% of plant derived calori...
Preprint
Full-text available
Domestication of the watermelon ( Citrullus lanatus ) has alternatively been placed in South Africa, the Nile valley, or more recently West Africa, with the oldest archeological evidence coming from Libya and Egypt. The geographic origin and domestication of watermelons has therefore remained unclear. Using extensive nuclear and plastid genomic dat...
Article
Full-text available
Local adaptation in plants often requires coordinated shifts among resources. Lowry et al. (2019) provide evidence for physiological and genomic mechanisms underpinning adaptive shifts in yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), such as the transition between annual and perennial life histories. In M. guttatus, differential activity of gibberellins...
Preprint
Full-text available
Symbiosis is a key driver of evolutionary novelty and ecological diversity, but our understanding of how macroevolutionary processes originate extant symbiotic associations is still very incomplete. In this context, cophylogenetic tools are used to assess the congruence between the phylogenies of two groups of organisms related by extant associatio...
Data
Martins et al 2018 Supp. tables "From tree tops to the ground: Reversals to terrestrial habit in Galeandra orchids (Epidendroideae: Catasetinae)"
Data
Martins et al 2018 Supp. figures "From tree tops to the ground: Reversals to terrestrial habit in Galeandra orchids (Epidendroideae: Catasetinae)"
Preprint
Full-text available
Poor morphological and molecular differentiation in recently diversified lineages is a widespread phenomenon in plants. Phylogenetic relationships within such species complexes are often difficult to resolve because of the low variability in traditional molecular loci, as well as various other biological phenomena responsible for topological incong...
Preprint
Full-text available
Poor morphological and molecular differentiation in recently diversified lineages is a widespread phenomenon in plants. Phylogenetic relationships within such species complexes are often difficult to resolve because of the low variability in traditional molecular loci, as well as various other biological phenomena responsible for topological incong...
Article
Full-text available
Phylogenetic relationships in species complexes and lineages derived from rapid diversifications are often challenging to resolve using morphology or standard DNA barcoding markers. The hyper-diverse genus Lepanthes from Neotropical cloud forest includes over 1200 species and many recent, explosive diversifications that have resulted in poorly supp...
Article
The colonization of the epiphytic niche of neotropical forest canopies played an important role in orchid's extraordinary diversification, with rare reversions to the terrestrial habit. To understand the evolutionary context of those reversals, we investigated the diversification of Galeandra, a Neotropical orchid genus which includes epiphytic and...
Article
The flora of the Neotropics is unmatched in its diversity, however the mechanisms by which diversity has accumulated are debated and largely unclear. The Brownea clade (Leguminosae) is a characteristic component of the Neotropical flora, and the species within it are diverse in their floral morphology, attracting a wide variety of pollinators. This...
Article
Full-text available
Providing science and society with an integrated, up‐to‐date, high quality, open, reproducible and sustainable plant tree of life would be a huge service that is now coming within reach. However, synthesizing the growing body of DNA sequence data in the public domain and disseminating the trees to a diverse audience are often not straightforward du...
Article
Full-text available
Change in floral shape is thought to be driven by pollinator-mediated selection, but drivers of floral shape evolution have been little studied at a macro-evolutionary scale. Smith and Kriebel (2018) examine floral shape across species within Iochrominae (Solanaceae) using geometric morphometrics and statistical regression analyses, and show signif...
Article
Full-text available
Coral reefs are of great ecological importance to marine ecosystems, yet their origins are still poorly understood. Using a robust phylogenetic framework, Huang et al. (2017) show that most diversity within the Indo-Pacific Coral Triangle region is driven by range expansions of lineages from outside the region, rather than rapid diversification wit...
Preprint
Full-text available
The colonization of the epiphytic niche of tropical forest canopies played an important role in orchid’s extraordinary diversification in the Neotropics. However, reversals to the terrestrial habit occurred sparsely in species of Epidendroideae. To better understand which factors might have been involved in reversals to terrestrial habits in the pr...