Plant reproduction across lineages and environments
Can we predict how plants will adapt and diversify over evolutionary time scales? To address this question, my research leverages extant plant diversity as the outcomes of "evolutionary experiments". By reconstructing macroevolutionary trajectories of trait and lineage diversification using phylogenetic comparative methods, we can test competing hypotheses in terms of the generating ecological and evolutionary processes. I thus work at the interface of evolutionary ecology and macroevolution.
I am particularly interested in understanding the evolution of plant reproductive traits and adaptation to extreme environments. I take a whole-plant approach, addressing the evolution of flowers and inflorescences in the context of plant architecture, function, and resource allocation. I work on multiple evolutionary scales, from populations (e.g., Primula halleri) to genera (e.g., Dracula, Lewisia, Primula, Saxifraga) and families (e.g., Montiaceae, Cactaceae, Connaraceae, Primulaceae), and emphasize evolution in- and out of extreme environments (e.g. alpine and arid biomes). I also have an interest in herbarium taxonomy and the history of botany.
Motivating questions of my research include:
- How is reproductive diversity structured along ecological gradients?
- How are reproductive systems associated with diversification dynamics and extinction risk?
- What, if anything, constitutes the limits to floral evolvability?
- What are the functional implications of natural variation in floral and inflorescence morphology?
- How do within-species patterns of variation relate to trajectories of macroevolutionary diversification?
Education and Professional Experience
2017-ongoing Senior Scientist / Curator of the Herbaria (BAS/BASBG/RENZ), Department of Environmental Sciences - Botany, University of Basel, Switzerland.
2015-2017 Early Career Research Fellow, Department of Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom.
2014-2015 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Edwards Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, United States.
2014 Visiting researcher, Harder Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada.
2013-2014 Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Edwards Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, United States
2008-2012 PhD Student, Conti Lab, Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Switzerland. Thesis "Reproductive-ecological and macroevolutionary aspects of floral variation in the primrose Family, Primulaceae". PhD received with distinction.
2001-2007 Student in Biology, specialization Ecology and Biodiversity, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. MSc received with Distinction.
- Angelo Moerland (current; based at RBG Kew, UK; With Wolf Eiserhardt, Univ. Aarhus; Bill Baker, RBG Kew; Julie Hawkins, Univ. Reading). Project "Integrated monography of the genus Saxifraga L. as a window on the evolution of the European Alpine flora."
- Patricia Dos Santos (current; based at Univ. Lisbon, Portugal; with Cristina Branquinho, Univ. Lisbon). Project "Diversification of Aeonium (Crassulaceae): a case of adaptive radiation?"
- Seraina Rodenwald (current). Project "Does within-species variation along elevational gradients predict among-species diversification in Saxifraga?"
- Rafael Pulfer (current). Project "Phylogenetics and floral evolution of Dracula orchids."
- Matthew Jeffery (2017, RBG Kew). Project "Leaf economics and habitat evolution in saxifrages (genus Saxifraga)."
2019-2023 Swiss National Science Foundation. Research Grant "Plant reproduction of the alpine zone: disentangling ecological drivers trait evolution", PI.
2018-2020 Alumni University Basel. Research Grant "Phylogenetics and floral evolution of Dracula orchids", PI.
2016-2019 The David and Claudia Harding Foundation, London. Research Grant "Integrated monography of the genus Saxifraga L. as a window on the evolution of the European Alpine flora", joint-PI with Wolf Eiserhardt, RBG, Kew, and Univ. Aarhus.
2013-2014 National Science Foundation, Switzerland. Fellowship "Prospective Researchers" scheme: "Ecological determinants of plant reproductive diversity" (PBZHP3_147199).
Selected other current projects
- A unifying phylogenetic framework for systematics and evolution of Portulacineae (Anacampserotaceae, Basellaceae, Cactaceae, Didiereaceae, Halophytaceae, Montiaceae, Portulacaceae, and Talinaceae) (with Isabel Larridon, RBG Kew; Olivier Maurin, RBG Kew; Urs Eggli, Sukkulenten Sammlung Zürich; Reto Nyffeler, Univ. Zürich; Erika Edwards, Yale Univ., funded through Kew's PAFTOL initiative)
- Evolution of tristyly in Oxalidales: insights from the first molecular phylogeny of Connaraceae and its sister, Oxalidaceae. (with Olivier Maurin, RBG Kew; Julien Bachelier, Freie Univ. Berlin, and others, funded through Kew's PAFTOL initiative)
- High-throughput pollen counting using a flow cytometer. (with Oriane Hidalgo, Univ. Barcelona and RBG Kew)
- Whole-plant aspects of reproductive diversification in Lewisia, Montiaceae (with Lawrence Harder, Univ. Calgary; Erika Edwards, Yale Univ.)
de Vos JM, Edwards EJ, Harder LD. submitted. Whole-plant trait associations preclude independent evolution of reproductive traits.
Hancock LP, Obbens F, Moore AJ, Thiele K, de Vos JM, West J, Holtum JA, Edwards EJ. 2018. Phylogeny, evolution, and biogeographic history of Calandrinia (Montiaceae). American Journal of Botany 105(6): 1021-1034. doi: 10.1002/ajb2.1110
Goolsby E, Moore AJ, Hancock LP, de Vos JM, Edwards EJ. 2018. Molecular evolution of photosynthesis genes during transitions to C4 and CAM metabolism. American Journal of Botany 105(3): 602-613. doi: 10.1002/ajb2.1051
de Vos JM*, Keller B*, Nowak MD, Keller B, Conti E. 2018. Mixed mating in homostylous species: genetic and experimental evidence from an alpine plant with variable herkogamy, Primula halleri. International Journal of Plant Sciences 179(2): 87-99. doi: 10.1086/695527 * Equal contribution.
Moore AJ, de Vos JM, Hancock LP, Goolsby E, Edwards EJ. 2018. Targeted enrichment of large gene families for phylogenetic inference: phylogeny and molecular evolution of photosynthesis genes in the portullugo clade (Caryophyllales). Systematic Biology 67(3): 367-383. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syx078
Edwards EJ, de Vos JM, Donoghue MJ. 2015. Brief Communications Arising: Doubtful pathways to cold tolerance in plants. Nature 521(7552): E5-E6. doi: 10.1038/nature14393
de Vos JM, Joppa LN, Gittleman JL, Stevens PR, Pimm SL. 2014. Estimating the normal background rate of species extinction. Conservation Biology 29(2): 452-462. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12380. p Third most highly cited paper published in Conservation Biology in 2015.
de Vos JM, Hughes CE, Schneeweiss GM, Moore BR, Conti E. 2014. Heterostyly accelerates diversification via reduced extinction in primroses. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281(1784): 20140075. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0075
de Vos JM, Wüest RO, Conti E. 2014. Small and ugly? Phylogenetic analyses of the "selfing syndrome" reveal complex evolutionary fates of monomorphic primrose flowers. Evolution 68: 1042-1057. doi: 10.1111/evo.12331.
Koenen EJM*, de Vos JM*, Atchinson GW, Simon MF, De Souza ER, De Quieroz LP, Schrire BD, Hughes CE. 2013. Exploring the tempo of species diversification in Legumes. South African Journal of Botany 89: 19-30. doi: 10.1016/j.sajb.2013.07.005 * Equal contribution.
Keller B, de Vos JM, Conti E. 2012. Decrease of sexual organ reciprocity between heterostylous primrose species, with possible functional and evolutionary implications. Annals of Botany 110(6): 1233-1244. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcs199.
de Vos JM, Keller B, Isham ST, Kelso S, Conti E. 2012. Reproductive implications of herkogamy in homostylous primroses: variation during anthesis and reproductive assurance in alpine environments. Functional Ecology 26(4): 854- 865. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2012.02016.x.
de Vos JM, Breteler FJ, 2009. A revision of the African genera Paropsiopsis and Smeathmannia (Passifloraceae-Paropsieae), including a new species of Paropsiopsis from Cameroon. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 66(1): 27-49. doi: 10.1017/S0960428609005174.