Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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Biodiversity and Plant Systematics

Dr. Xiao-Chen Huang

Xiao-Chen moved in 2019 back to China: School of Life Sciences, Nanchang University.


Dr. Xiao-Chen Huang
Dr. Xiao-Chen Huang
Im Neuenheimer Feld 345
69120 Heidelberg
Fon +49 6221 54-4619
Fax +49 6221 54-5508
xiaochen.huang AET

PhD project

Principles of crucifer evolution

Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) is an important model family for evolutionary and molecular research, comprising 51 tribes, 325 genera, and about 3700 species. It comprises not only the most important model for molecular plant biology (Arabidopsis thaliana), but also important crop plants such as rapeseed and cabbage.


Evolutionary processes can only be understood if the correlations between environmental dynamics and evolutionary changes are known within a well-resolved temporal context. A backbone phylogenetic tree and a reliable time scale of Brassicaceae evolution will be generated using whole chloroplast genomes to minimize the bias caused by the choice of molecular markers. Afterwards, every tribe in the family will be analyzed separately based on ITS (Internal transcribed spacers of nuclear ribosomal DNA) datasets for more than 50% of all 3700 species.


Recurrent polyploidization has played an important role in the evolution of Brassicaceae. Chromosome number change will be inferred based on the tribe level phylogenetic trees, helping us to explain the haploid numbers observed today.


Brassicaceae is thought to have originated in the Irano-Turanian region, where the highest species diversity is found, and originated as a tropical/subtropical family (Franzke et al., 2011). Reconstructions of ancestral areas will be performed, combining the WWF Ecoregions. We try to provide insights about the origin of Brassicaceae, and correlate evolutionary processes in space and time.



Huang X-C, Rong J, Liu Y, et al. The complete maternally and paternally inherited mitochondrial genomes of the endangered freshwater mussel Solenaia carinatus (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and implications for Unionidae taxonomy[J]. PloS one, 2013, 8(12): e84352.


Huang X-C, Zhou C-H, Ouyang S, et al. The complete F-type mitochondrial genome of threatened Chinese freshwater mussel Solenaia oleivora (Bivalvia: Unionidae: Gonideinae)[J]. Mitochondrial DNA, 2015, 26(2): 263-264.

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