The evolution of diversity in tropical rattan palms

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Rattans are a diverse group of about 600 climbing palms, constituting a quarter of all palm species. They form the basis of a multi-billion cane industry in south-east Asia and are also used by local communities for basketry and suspension bridges. Despite rattans' economic importance, their evolution, diversity and phylogenetic relationships remain poorly understood. We are collaborating with Dr Bill Baker, a rattan specialist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and DPhil student Benedikt Kuhnhäuser at the Department of Biology, to explore these questions. Rattans will be grown at Oxford Botanic Garden to support this research.