Surviving Extinction: Genomic insights to cycads resilience

Dioon cycad in the wild

One of the main scientific questions in our time is what enables certain groups of organisms to adapt to human-induced environmental and climate changes while others go extinct? The answer to this question is relevant to understand how plants adapt to our current biodiversity crisis. Cycads, ancient gymnosperms that have survived three major extinctions, are the perfect plant group to answer this question. 


This is a new area of research at Naturalis, if you're interested about this project, don't hesitate to contact us. Write to Dr. Angelica Cibrian Jaramillo.

-67.940280059686, -52.20703125


Cycads are enigmatic ancient seed plants with a ~300 million-year history. Their seeds were likely dispersed by dinosaurs, but when they were gone, cycads managed to adapt to various habitats throughout tropical and subtropical ecosystems. Are cycads ‘living fossils’ with ‘all-terrain’ ancient traits, or are they dynamic species with yet uncharacterized recent innovations? We think they are a bit of both, and would like to know what biological mechanisms allowed them to be resilient. We use cutting-edge techniques like infra-red scanners and transcriptomics to compare cycad characteristics among herbaria samples, living collections and field-based samples. And those characteristics to their genomes, to identify the mechanisms that have allowed cycads to remain resilient.  

Who works
on this project?

This a new area of research at Naturalis - graduate students and postdocs are invited to inquire! 



Cycads are the most endangered plant group in the world

We are part of the IUCN Cycad Specialist Group and the Global Conservation Consortia for Cycads We collaborate with anthropologists to understand the human value of this plants, read our joint book:
Dioon in a botanical garden
Dioon cones harvested to make flour