See upcoming events about ethnobotany on UW-Madison campus and elsewhere.

Ongoing projects in the Emshwiller lab include:

Origins of polyploidy and domestication of the Andean tuber crop "oca," Oxalis tuberosa Molina

Recent results with AFLP data (Emshwiller, et al. 2009) presents a different story than earlier work with nuclear-encoded, chloroplast-expressed glutamine synthetase (ncpGS; Emshwiller and Doyle 2002). We are continuing our work on untangling the complexities of the origins of oca and clarifying its relationships with wild allies.  Wild, tuber-bearing Oxalis taxa in Bolivia, Argentina, and two areas of Peru are being evaluated.

Map of wild relatives of oca.

Evolution of clonally-propagated crops under human influence, the example of the Andean tuber crop Oxalis tuberosa

This research uses "oca," Oxalis tuberosa, to study how human exchange networks distribute clones of the crop geographically and how they affect clonal diversity in traditional subsistence agriculture. Specifically, this project compares the diversity of oca among different localities and to other clonal plants, and uses spatial statistics to analyze patterns of clonal and genetic structure of oca across the Peruvian Andes. DNA fingerprinting (fluorescent AFLP) distinguishes whether similar-looking tubers are genetic clones.  NSF funded via DEB 0426496 & 0732490.

Diverse oca from family in Huanuco

Phylogeny and character evolution in the genus Oxalis

The large genus Oxalis holds an amazing diversity of forms, including small shrubs, succulent herbs, long vines, and alpine cushion forms. Many have various kinds of storage structures: tubers, tuberous roots, rhizomes with fleshy scales, woody crowns, and two different kinds of bulbs. To study the evolution of plant form, we are using DNA sequences and comparisons with morphology to study the evolutionary relationships among species of Oxalis, to help understand how storage structures such as bulbs evolve, and from what precursors. The results will also shed light on the evolution of plant breeding systems, chromosome numbers, and biogeography.  NSF funded via DEB 1027270.

Oxalis pachyrrhiza

Recently completed M.Sc. thesis:

Fritillaria cirrhosa

Katie Konchar (2009) The Influence of biogeography, management, and timing of harvest on the phytochemical efficacy of a Traditional Chinese Medicine, Fritillaria cirrhosa, in southwest China.

Publication based on this thesis:
Konchar, Katie M., Xiaoli Li, Yongping Yang, and Eve Emshwiller. 2011. Phytochemical variation in Fritillaria cirrhosa D. Don (Chuan Bei Mu) in relation to plant reproductive stage and timing of harvest. Economic Botany. 65(3):283-294.

Ph.D. Dissertations in progress:

E. Jane Bradbury:  Variation in Oxalic and other organic acids in Oxalis tuberosa as a model for study of domestication toward opposing phenotypes.

Andrew Gardner:  Evolution of the American bulb-bearing Oxalis:  Biogeographic history, bulb evolution, and adaptive radiation.

Brian Walsh:  Phylogeny of American Chenopodium species with focus on origins of the domesticated taxa.

Diana Peterson:  Sustainable management and conservation of diversity of wild-rice Zizania aquatica.

Elizabeth Georgian:  Dujuan Hua in the Himalayan Mountains: An Ethnobotanical and Phylogenetic Study of Rhododendrons in the Himalayan Mountains (Rhododendron subgenus Hymenanthes section Ponticum subsection Neriiflora)

Lauren Moscoe:  Factors affecting in-situ conservation of Andean tuber crops.

Renata Solan (co-advised): TBD

             Link to Emshwiller Lab people page.    Link to Emshwiller Lab presentation abstracts.

CT scans of bulbs and bulb-like structures in Oxalis, Andrew Gardner
CT scans of bulbs and bulb-like structures in Oxalis by Andrew Gardner.