"Morphoanatomical, metabolomic and molecular studies as subsidies to the systematic of Asteraceae species and access to its pharmacological potential"

The thematic project is organized in three subprojects whose main goal is to broaden knowledge in morphoanatomical and establish metabolomic studies of Asteraceae to apply them, along with molecular data, in phylogenetic studies of two major groups, besides investigating the pharmacological potential of the species through in vitro bioassays. The choice of Heliantheae and Vernonieae tribes was based on the fact that they are quite representative groups in Brazil in two very distinct branches within Asteraceae. Many of the species are endemic, occurring in Cerrado areas, with great chemical, biological and pharmacological potential. Viguiera Kunth.* (Heliantheae tribe) was chosen since it has a high number of species, complex taxonomic classification and problems of delimitation. In Viguiera there is phylogenetic reticulation and the Brazilian species present phenotypic variety and likely occurrences of hybridization, apart from low rate of variation in the region of ribosomal internal transcribed spacers (ITS). A taxonomic revision of the species occurring in Brazil was held in 2006 by Dr. Mara Magenta, who pointed out the need for studies using molecular markers associated with morphoanatomical and chemical studies to understand the phylogeny of this group. It is expected that the joint analysis of these characters and those provided by several molecular markers, provide a solid basis for determining the taxonomic position of plants occurring in Brazil. From the tribe Vernonieae 30 species of the subtribe Lychnophorinae and a related monospecific genus, considered the sister group of Lychnophorinae, were selected. The choice was based on preliminary results of molecular phylogeny by doctorate Benoit Loeuille under the supervision of Prof. José R. Pirani (FAPESP process number 2008/51453-7). They are representatives of the major clades found in this phylogeny, with prioritization of groups where there is lack of information about chemistry and anatomy. The search for new chemical compounds from plants in major Brazilian biomes like Cerrado for their use in the treatment of diseases can contribute to the species conservation and sustainability of the country.

* Based upon molecular analysis, the South American species of Viguiera were transferred to Aldama La Llave (Schilling and Panero 2011). However, the circumscription of the South American species has not been well-established yet and some Brazilian species combinations were not taken into their analysis.

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