Erica Barroso

Erica Barroso


Tel.: 0041 (0) 44 634 84 40

Academic Education and Degrees

2014 - present PhD studies in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, University of Zurich, Switzerland
2010 - 2012

M.Sc. in Biological Sciences (Botany), National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Topic: Molecular phylogeny of Philodendron subgenus Meconostigma (Araceae)

2005 - 2009 B.Sc. in Biological Sciences, Federal University of Ceara, Fortaleza - Ceará, Brazil
2005 - 2009 Teaching degree in Biological Sciences, Federal University of Ceara, Fortaleza - Ceará, Brazil
2004.1      Undergraduate studies in Chemistry, State University of Ceará, Brazil (interrupted)

Research interests

  • Botanical nomenclature
  • Molecular systematics
  • Biogeography
  • Targeted capture for NextGen Sequencing

PhD thesis topic

           Biodiversity - particularly in the tropics - is under ever increasing threat due to human activities. Our ability to make informed decisions on how to protect biodiversity in the long run largely depends on our understanding of the evolutionary patterns and processes that have been shaping biodiversity. Across all levels of biological organization, evolutionary biology provides the fundamental context and framework for comparative analyses of biodiversity and its implications. Studying what happened in the past is crucial for gaining a better perception of the actual forces shaping biodiversity. The overall number of species we see today is a very small fraction of what has ever existed - most of them are extinct. The Earth’s surface is dynamic as well, and vegetation history is critical for understanding the evolution of modern land biomes.

           Is present-day biodiversity the result of a gradual accumulation of new lineages over time? Is it the result of recent and rapid diversification (speciation) events? Or is it the result of a combination of both? How has Earth’s history (geology and climate) affected diversification and extinction events? Which processes shape the current geographic distribution of biological lineages? These are fundamental questions in evolutionary biology for which we still lack satisfactory answers, especially when referring to tropical regions. We will address the questions outlined above by combining molecular, fossil and current geographic distribution data in a model group of tropical flowering plants: Thunbergioideae (Acanthaceae).

Clockwise from top left: Mendoncia sp. flower; Thunbergia sp. fruit in longitudinal section and seeds; Mendoncia sp. fruits; Thunbergia mysorensis inflorescence; Thunbergia natalensis flowers; Mendoncia sp. flower.

          Our main goals are (i) to produce a genomic data set for Acanthaceae, (ii) to identify hundreds of new molecular markers for phylogenetic analyses, (iii) to build robust phylogenetic hypotheses for relationships within Thunbergioideae, and (iv) to infer the geographic history of the subfamily. We are producing new empirical data using next generation sequencing (NGS), attempting complete species sampling for this lineage. So far, there exists no such data set for any Amazonian clade. Our research will contribute crucial data and analyses needed to elucidate processes that shape tropical biodiversity. 


2014 - PhD Scholarship: Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship
2010 - 2012 Master Scholarship: National Council for Scientific and Technological Development - CNPq
2008 - 2009 Undergraduate Scholarship: Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation - Embrapa

Teaching experience

2015.1 Teaching assistant at the Institute of Systematic Botany. Course of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. University of Zurich, Switzerland
2013.2 Teaching position at elementary school, discipline of Sciences. Fortaleza, Brazil
2011.1 Teaching assistant at the Department of Botany. Discipline of Spermatophytes. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Research assistant positions


Department of Structural and Functional Botany, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Jürg Schönenberger

2010 - 2012

Laboratory of Plant Taxonomy and Evolution, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Cassia Sakuragui

2008 - 2009 Laboratory of  Plant  Breeding  and  Genetic  Resources, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Fortaleza, Brazil Advisor: Dr. Ana Cecília Ribeiro de Castro

Laboratory of Phytogeography, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Francisca Soares de Araújo

Google Scholar webpage