Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Postdoctoral Fellow

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Research Interests

In a general sense my research explores the evolutionary history of plant taxa.

  • How are species related to one another?
  • Why do some plant lineages successfully evolve into hundreds of species while other lineages have only a few species?
  • When did speciation occur and where did it happen?
  • Why do some plant distributions contain large gaps?

Projects that I have worked on range from family to population-level studies and have used data from both molecular and morphological characters.

My main interest lies in understanding evolution in the grass family (Poaceae). My Ph.D. research (advised by Scot A. Kelchner and with the guidance of Lynn Clark) focused on the evolutionary history of a neotropical woody bamboo genus. Chusquea is the largest genus of bamboos, with 163 described species and an estimated total diversity of 220 species. Chusquea is well known for its abundant branching and different patterns of branching are used to distinguish subgenera and species. I used evidence from chloroplast DNA sequences to estimate the phylogeny of Chusquea, using several different methods. In some ways, the chloroplast data agrees with morphological concepts of the genus (as proposed by Clark 1989, 1997, etc.), especially in regards to the monophyly of subgenus Rettbergia. However, the chloroplast data does not support the monophly of the other two subgenera, Swallenochloa and Chusquea. I used evidence from a fossilized, extinct Guadua species (Brea and Zucol 2007) to estimate times of divergence in Chusquea's evolution. The genus seems to have originated in the Miocene, but most extant taxa did not arise until the late Miocene or Pliocene. My research on Chusquea is ongoing and is part of a larger effort to study the evolution of the world's woody and herbaceous bamboos. This project is described at the Bamboo Biodiversity website.

I am currently working at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden with Travis Columbus and Amanda Ingram on a National Science Foundation grant to study the evolution of chloridoid grasses and the development of their flowers. One of the goals of this project is to better understand how the large amount of morphological variation found in chloridoid inflorescences evolved and what genes play a role in the development of flower structures. We are working with Simon Malcomber at CSU Long Beach on in situ hybridization protocols for chloridoids.

 

Recent papers

Fisher, A.E., C.D. Tyrrell and L.G. Clark. 2011. Chusquea mayrae (Poaceae: Bambusoideae: Bambuseae), a new species of montane forest bamboo from Costa Rica. Bamboo Science and Culture.

Fisher, A.E., J. K. Triplett, C. S. Ho, A. D. Schiller, K. A. Oltrogge, E. S. Schroder, S. A. Kelchner, et al. 2009. Paraphyly in the bamboo subtribe Chusqueinae (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) and a revised infrageneric classification for Chusquea. SYSTEMATIC BOTANY 34: 673-683.

Wattts, C. D., A. E. Fisher, C. D. Shrum, W. L. Newbold, S. Hansen, C. Liu, and S. A. Kelchner. 2008. The D4 set: primers that target highly variable intron loops in plant chloroplast genomes. Molecular Ecology Resources 8: 1344-1347.

Download Amanda Fisher's CV (PDF) Fisher_CV.pdf

A Bibliography of Bamboos