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PhD. Topics

Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre SAS

Exploring factors shaping the evolution, diversification, and adaptation of selected Daphne (Thymelaeaceae) members to extreme environments.
PhD. program
Name of the supervisor
Mgr. Miroslav Caboň, PhD.
Receiving school
Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University
Relictual and endemic species represent a crucial component of global biodiversity. Despite
numerous studies addressing the systematic, evolutionary, and diversification aspects of
these rare entities, our understanding remains incomplete regarding the intrinsic and extrinsic
mechanisms guiding their evolution, speciation, and long-term survival. This proposed thesis
centers on the woody vascular plant genus Daphne (Thymelaeaceae), recognized as an
ancient relictual genus with the majority of its species classified as relictual and endemic,
often exhibiting highly restricted distribution ranges. Notably, these species thrive in
environmentally extreme and inhospitable habitats, predominantly characterized by exposed
rocky outcrops.
The thesis is structured around two primary focal points concerning the evolution of selected
species and the mechanisms driving their adaptation to specific environments. The first
segment delves into the impact of interspecific gene flow on the speciation and diversification
of endemic entities. It also explores its influence on the fitness and long-term survival of
endemics residing in rocky habitats. The second component of the thesis concentrates on the
interaction between selected species and their endobiont mycobiome, investigating its effects
on the survival and adaptation of these species to particular environments.
The aim of the topic is to:
1. Hybridization-induced speciation among Daphne endemics in Mediterranean mountain
ranges, with a specific emphasis on D. cneorum as a pluripotent parental species
2. Hybridization and introgression dynamics between rocky-dwelling stenoendemic D.
petrea and its parapatric and sympatric relatives, and assessing their impact on
population structure and survival.
3. Microhabitat heterogeneity-induced endobiont mycobiome diversification in the WestCarpathian endemic D. arbuscula
4. Bedrock-induced endobiont mycobiome diversification and its role in adaptation of D.
cneorum populations to specific environmnetally hostile habitats