I was first introduced to Ledebouria during undergrad at the University of Arkansas. At the time, I had no idea what the plant was called (L. socialis I later learned) but I knew that it very easy to propagate and the leaves were wonderfully spotted with green and silver. It was after graduation, while working at the Huntington, that I would come learn more about this genus and all the mystery that surrounded it. My research is focused on resolving the relationships between Ledebouria, Drimiopsis and Resnova, three closely related taxa within Hyacinthaceae (now Asparagaceae, Scilloideae according to APG III). I am aiming to include samples from across the distribution of the three genera, which will then provide me with a large molecular dataset, resulting in a potentially robust and well resolved phylogeny for the group. I will then use this phylogenetic framework to investigate questions related to character evolution, historical biogeography, and genome evolution, to name a few examples. Investigations into the historical biogeography of Ledebouria is especially interesting since it is the only genus of the three to have dispersed out of Africa. Chromosome evolution in this group is also interesting since they exhibit a wide range of ploidy levels (n = 6-24). Determining how many chromosomes each species has may help us delimit the three genera from each other and investigate instances of polyploidization, which I suspect is common in this group. I would also like to look at various developmental questions related to bulb evolution, leaf maculation, and floral development, as well as transposable element evolution within the Scilloideae.
Be sure to check out all the other awesome research going on in the Cellinese Lab.