Our research focuses on plant genome evolution, ranging from the evolution of plant chromosome numbers and incidence of polyploidy, to detailed analyses of the composition of plant chromosomes and genomes. Of special interest are analyses of the dynamics of genomic changes following hybridization and polyploidization. Our research includes aspects of phylogeny and systematics, as well as genomics and genetics. We focus explicitly, but not exclusively, on the evolution of the repetitive DNA fraction of the genome which encompasses dispersed transposable elements and various tandem repeats such as telomeric motifs, rDNAs and satellite DNAs.

Chromosome number and structure dynamics are important to speciation and evolution. Application of high-throughput sequencing technologies in concert with fluorescence in situ hybridization allows us to study chromosome evolution in systems with highly dynamic chromosome numbers. Of special interest are supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) and supernumerary chromosomal segments (SCSs).

Polyploidy is particularly important in plant evolution. We focus on identifying parental origin of polyploids and use a comparative approach to study genome evolution following auto- and allopolyploidization. We also develop novel approaches to infer the age of allopolyploids, which are used for calibrating the dynamics of the evolution of their repetitive DNA fraction.

Repetitive DNA represents the most dynamic fraction of plant genomes. Both dispersed transposable elements and tandemly repeated satellite DNAs are important drivers of genome size and chromosome structure evolution in plants. Their dynamic evolution is correlated with high levels of divergence even among among closely related taxa. We utilize high-throughput sequencing and graph-based clustering approaches, in addition to experimental approaches, for characterization and inferring the patterns of the evolution of repetitive elements in various plant genomes.

Our research is also reflected in teaching at bachelor, master and PhD levels.



Recent Publications

Dodsworth S, Jang T-S, Struebig M, Chase MW, Weiss-Schneeweiss H, Leitch AR (2017) Genome-wide repeat dynamics reflect phylogenetic distance in closely related allotetraploid Nicotiana (Solanaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 303: 1013-1020.

Urtubey E, Tremetsberger K, Baeza CM, López-Sepúlveda P, König C, Samuel R, Weiss-Schneeweiss H, Stuessy TF, Ortiz MA, Talavera S, Terrab A, Ruas CF, Matzenbacher NI, Muellner AN, Guo Y-P (in press) Systematics of Hypochaeris section Phanoderis (Asteraceae, Cichorieae). Systematic Botany Monographs.

Heckenhauer J, Samuel R, Ashton PS, Turner B, Barfuss MHJ, Jang T-S, Temsch EM, McCann J, Abu Salim K, Attanayake AS, Chase MW (2017) Phylogenetic analyses of plastid DNA suggest a different interpretation of morphological evolution than those used as the basis for previous classifications of Dipterocarpaceae (Malvales). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 185: 1-26.

Li X, Jang T-S,Temsch EM, Kato H, Takayama K, Schneeweiss GM (2017) Molecular and karyological data confirm that the enigmatic genus Platypholis from Bonin-Islands (SE Japan) is phylogenetically nested within Orobanche (Orobanchaceae). Journal of Plant Research 130: 273–280. 

Linder HP, Suda J, Weiss-Schneeweiss H, Travnicek P, Bouchenak-Khelladi Y (2017) Patterns, causes and consequences of genome size variation in the Cape flora Restionaceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 183: 515-531.

Jang T-S, McCann J, Parker JS, Takayama K, Hong S-P, Schneeweiss GM, Weiss-Schneeweiss H (2016) rDNA loci evolution in the genus Glechoma (Lamiaceae). PLoS ONE 11: e0167177.

McCann J, Schneeweiss GM, Stuessy TF, Villaseñor JL, Weiss-Schneeweiss H (2016) The impact of reconstruction methods, phylogenetic uncertainty and branch lengths on inference of chromosome number evolution in American daisies (Melampodium, Asteraceae). PLoS ONE 11: e0162299.