9509524 Graham The flowering plant genus Cuphea is the largest member of the loosestrife family, the Lythraceae, with about 250 species. It is a significant component of neotropical herbaceous vegetation, especially in Mexico and South America where it occurs in areas of major environmental and biological concern. The genus is currently the focus of biotechnological research into the mechanisms of fatty acid synthesis, and is under development as a new oilseed source. Specialized floral and vegetative characters of Cuphea, such as the large, irregular, red flower tubes that attract hummingbirds in the mountains of western Mexico and the heath-like plants with minute rolled leaves in the rocky campos of Brazil, provide exceptional character syndromes for studying evolutionary diversification and adaptation. The projected research by Dr. Shirley Graham of Kent State University will test hypotheses about the evolution of selected characters and the frequency of geographic dispersal events that have been important in the species radiation of this large, diverse genus. Funding will support preparation of a modern taxonomic monoraph of Cuphea. The new monograph will be exceptional for its depth of coverage by inclusion of floral, vegetative, pollen, chromosome, seed oil composition, reproductive and distributonal data. The extensive database will be analyzed cladistically, to reconstruct probably phylogenetic relationships, elucidate patterns of character change, increase understanding of the history of plant distribution in the New World, and provide a framework for a new natural classification. The largest section of the genus will be revised taxonomically in a collaboration with a young Brazilian specialist in Lythraceae, and the monograph will be made available electronically via World Wide Web and in published hard copy.