Phylogeny, biogeography, and diversification of the tea family (Theaceae)

A green tea plantation in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Yujing Yan, 2021

Theaceae (the tea family) has a highly unusual amphi-Pacific disjunct distribution: most extant species in the family are restricted to subtropical evergreen broadleaf forests in East Asia, while a handful of species occur exclusively in the subtropical and tropical Americas

In this project, I tried to uncover the biogeographic history of the family and provide new insights for the high richness of the family in subtropical and tropical Asia.


  • Compiled datasets of distribution, fossils and traits of the tea family.
  • Sequenced and de novo assembled the plastid genome, nuclear ribosomal DNA, and ~350 low-copy nuclear genes from herbarium specimens using genome skimming and target enrichment method.
  • Constructed dated phylogenies using phylogenomic methods.
  • Inferred biogeographic history, diversification rate and trait evolution of the family based on the data.
Yujing Yan, PhD
Yujing Yan, PhD
Harvard University Herbaria Research Fellow

My research interests include biogeography, macroevolution, species diversity patterns and climate change conservation.