Susanne S. Renner

Lab members and projects,

References in google scholar


We are working on the systematics, biogeography, and evolution of plants. Long-standing interests are plant/animal interactions and the evolution of plant sexual systems and sex chromosomes. Biogeographic work has focused on Cucurbitaceae, Melastomataceae, Chloranthaceae, Araceae, and families in the order Laurales, namely Calycanthaceae, Atherospermataceae, Hernandiaceae, Lauraceae, Monimiaceae, and Siparunaceae *see online Flora of Ecuador. In much of this work, molecular clocks and their calibration with fossils play a large role.


Main email address (postal address see end of page):

Selected publications, sorted by topics and plant groups



·      Zohner, C. M.. B. M. Benito, J-C. Svenning, and S. S. Renner. Day length unlikely to constrain climate-driven shifts in leaf-out times of northern woody plants Nature Climate Change. 2 Sep. 2016, accepted




·       Renner, S. S. 2016. Available data point to a 4 km-high Tibetan plateau by 40 Ma, but 100 molecular-clock papers have linked supposed recent uplift to young node ages. Journal of Biogeography 43: 1479-1487.

PLANT EVOLUTION *SORTED BY CLADE, this includes papers on the role of chromosomal change


·       Villarreal, J. C., and S. S. Renner. 2012. Hornwort pyrenoids, carbon-concentrating structures, evolved and were lost at least five times during the last 100 million years. Proceedings of the National Academy, USA 109(46): 18873-18878, 10.1073/pnas.1213498109 pdf with online supporting materials included.

·       Villarreal, J. C., and S. S. Renner. 2013. Correlates of monoicy and dioicy in hornworts, the apparent sister group to vascular plants. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13: 239. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-239.

·       Villarreal, J. C., and S. S. Renner. 2014. A review of molecular-clock calibrations and substitution rates in liverworts, mosses, and hornworts, and a timeframe for a taxonomically cleaned-up genus Nothoceros. Molecular Phylogenetis and Evolution 78: 25-35.

·       Villarreal, J. C., N. Cusimano, and S. S. Renner. 2015. Biogeography and diversification rates in hornworts – the limitations of diversification modeling. Taxon 64(2): 229-238 and online supporting material.








·       Schlumpberger, B. O., and S. S. Renner. 2012. The relative roles of polyploidy, pollinator switches, and plant architecture in the evolution of Echinopsis, one of the largest genera of Cactaceae. American Journal of Botany 99(8): 1335-1349.


·      Rockinger, A., A. Sousa, F. A. Carvalho, and S. S. Renner. 2016. Chromosome number reduction in the sister clade of Carica papaya with concomitant genome size doubling. American Journal of Botany 103(6): 1082-1088. Cover.


·      Renner, S. S., and H. Schaefer. 2016. Phylogeny and evolution of Cucurbitaceae. In R. Grumet, N. Katzir and J. Garcia-Mas, eds. Genetics and Genomics of the Cucurbitaceae, Springer Science+Business Media





·      Sousa, A., S. Bellot, J. Fuchs, A. Houben, and S. S. Renner. 2016. Analysis of transposable elements and organellar DNA in male and female genomes of a species with a huge Y-chromosome reveals distinct Y-centromeres. The Plant Journal, online early, doi: 10.1111/tpj.13254


·       Abrahamczyk, S., D. Souto-Vilarós, and S. S. Renner. 2014. Escape from extreme specialization: passionflowers, bats, and the sword-billed hummingbird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281, 20140888,

·       Abrahamczyk, S., D.Souto-Vilarós, J. A. McGuire, and S. S. Renner. 2015. Diversity and clade ages of the West Indian hummingbirds and of the largest plant clades dependent on them: A 5-9 my young mutualistic system. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 114: 848-859.

·       Abrahamczyk, S., and S. S. Renner. 2015. The temporal build-up of hummingbird/plant mutualisms in North America and temperate South America. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:104, doi 10.1186/s12862-015-0388-z

·       Chomicki, G., and S. S. Renner. 2015. Phylogenetics and molecular-clock dating reveal the repeated evolution of ant-plants after the late Miocene in Africa and the early Miocene in Australasia and the Neotropics. New Phytologist 207: 411–424. doi: 10.1111/nph.13271

·       Chomicki, G., and S. S. Renner. 2016. Evolutionary relationships and biogeography of the ant-epiphytic genus Squamellaria (Rubiaceae: Psychotrieae) and their taxonomic implications. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151317.

·       Chomicki, G., P. S. Ward, and S. S. Renner. 2015. The macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses: Pseudomyrmex ants and their ant-housing plants in the Neotropics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282 (1819), DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2200

·       Chomicki, G., Y. Staedler, J. Schönenberger, and S. S. Renner. 2016. Partner choice through concealed floral sugar rewards evolved with the specialization of ant/plant symbioses. New Phytologist 211: 1358–1370.

·       Chomicki, G., M. Janda, and S. S. Renner. The assembly of ant-farmed gardens: mutualism specialization via host broadening. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 29 Aug.  2016 accepted

·       Clausing, G., and S. S. Renner. 2001. Evolution of growth form in epiphytic Dissochaeteae (Melastomataceae). Org. Divers. Evol. 1(1): 45-60 (pdf; supplementary materials and illustrations).

·       Ervik, F., S. S. Renner, and K. A. Johanson. 1995. Breeding system and pollination of Nuphar luteum (L.) Smith (Nymphaeaceae) in Norway. Flora 190: 109-113 (volume not online)

·       Gu, L., Z. Luo, D. Zhang, S. S. Renner. 2010 Passerine pollination of Rhodoleia championii (Hamamelidaceae) in subtropical China. Biotropica 42(3): 336–341.

·       Jersáková, J., Kindlmann, P., and S. S. Renner 2006. Is the colour dimorphism in Dactylorhiza sambucina maintained by differential seed viability instead of frequency-dependent selection? Folia Geobotanica 41: 61-76.

·       Jersáková, J., I. Traxmandlová, Z. Ipser, M. Kropf, G. Pellegrino, B. Schatz, V. Djordjević, P. Kindlmann, S. S. Renner. 2015. Biological flora of Central Europe: Dactylorhiza sambucina (L.) Soó. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 17(4): 318-329.

·       Kropf, M., and S. S. Renner. 2005. Pollination success in monochromic yellow populations of the rewardless orchid Dactylorhiza sambucina. Plant Syst. Evol. 254: 185-197 (pdf).

·       Kropf, M., and S. S. Renner. 2008. Pollinator-mediated selfing in two deceptive orchids and a review of pollinium tracking studies addressing geitonogamy. Oecologia 155: 497-508.

·       Lippok, B., and S. S. Renner. 1997. Pollination of Nuphar (Nymphaeaceae) in Europe: flies and bees rather than Donacia beetles. Plant Systematics and Evolution 207(3-4): 273-283.

·       Lippok, B., Gardine, A. A., Williamson, P. S., and S. S. Renner. 2000. Pollination by flies, bees, and beetles of Nuphar ozarkana and N. advena (Nymphaeaceae). Am. J. Bot. 87(6): 898-902

·       Luo, S., Chaw, S., Zhang, D., and S. S. Renner. 2010. Flower heating following anthesis and the evolution of gall midge pollination in Schisandraceae. American Journal of Botany 97(7): 1220-1228.

·       Luo, S., D. Zhang, and S. S. Renner. 2006. Oxalis debilis in China: distribution of flower morphs, sterile pollen, and polyploidy. Ann. Bot. 98: 459­464 (pdf).

·       Luo, S., D. Zhang, S. S. Renner. 2006. Duodichogamy and androdioecy in the Chinese Phyllanthaceae Bridelia tomentosa. Am. J. Bot. 94(2): 260-265.

·       Luo, S.X., Li, Y., Chen, S., Zhang, D., and S. S. Renner. 2011. Gelechiidae moths are capable of chemically dissolving the pollen of their Phyllanthaceae hosts. PLoS ONE 6(4): e19219. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019219

·       Luo, Z., D. Zhang, and S. S. Renner. 2008. Why two kinds of stamens in buzz-pollinated flowers? Experimental support for Darwin's division-of-labor hypothesis. Functional Ecology 22: 794-800.

·       Martins, A. C., M. D. Scherz, and S. S. Renner. 2014. Several origins of floral oil in the Angelonieae, a Southern Hemisphere disjunct clade of Plantaginaceae. American Journal of Botany 101(12): 2113-2120.

·       Martins, A. C., Melo, G., and S. S. Renner. 2014. The honeybee/bumblebee lineage diverged from New World oil-collecting bees: Implications for the origin of pollen baskets. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 80: 88-94.

·       Martins, A. C., Melo, G. and S. S. Renner. 2015. Gain and loss of specialization in two oil bee lineages, Centris and Epicharis (Apidae). Evolution 69(7): 1835-1844.

·       Renner, S. S. 1983. The widespread occurrence of anther destruction by Trigona bees in Melastomataceae. Biotropica 15: 257-267.

·       Renner, S. S. 1989. A survey of reproductive biology in neotropical Melastomataceae and Memecylaceae. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 76: 496-518.

·       Renner, S. S. 1998. Effects of habitat fragmentation on plant-pollinator interactions in the tropics. In D.M. Newbery, H.H.T. Prins & N.D. Brown, eds., Dynamics of Tropical Communities, pp. 339-360. Blackwell Scientific Publishers, London.

·       Renner, S. S. 2001. Heterodichogamy, how common is it? Trends Ecol. Evol. 16(11): 595-597.

·       Renner, S. S. 2005. Rewardless flowers in the angiosperms and the role of insect cognition in their evolution. Pp. 123-144 in N. M. Waser and J. Ollerton (eds.), Plant-Pollinator Interactions: From Specialization to Generalization. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

·       Renner, S. S. 2007. Structure in mutalistic networks. Nature 448: 877-878.

·       Renner, S. S. 2014. The relative and absolute frequencies of angiosperm sexual systems: dioecy, monoecy, gynodioecy, and an up-dated online database. American Journal of Botany 101(10): 1588 – 1596.

·       Renner, S. S. and H. Schaefer. 2010. The evolution and loss of oil-offering flowers -- new insights from dated phylogenies for plants and bees. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 365: 423-435.

·       Renner, S. S., and J. P. Feil. 1993. Pollinators of tropical dioecious angiosperms. Am. J. Bot. 80: 1100-1107 (pdf)

·       Renner, S. S., and R. E. Ricklefs. 1995. Dioecy and its correlates in the flowering plants. Am. J. Bot. 82(5): 596-606.

·       Renner, S. S., and R. E. Ricklefs. 1998. Herbicidal activity of domatia-inhabiting ants in patches of Tococa guianensis and Clidemia heterophylla. Biotropica 30: 324-327.

·       Renner, S. S., L. Beenken, G. W. Grimm, A. Kocyan, and R. E. Ricklefs. 2007. The evolution of dioecy, heterodichogamy, and labile sex expression in Acer. Evolution 61: 2701­2719.

·       Renner, S..S., and H. Won 2001. Repeated evolution of dioecy from monoecy in Siparunaceae (Laurales). Syst. Biol. 50(5): 700-712. This cites a Database of angiosperm genera with dioecious species. The same database was used in this paper:

·       Ricklefs, R. E., and S. S. Renner. 1994. Species richness within families of flowering plants. Evolution 48(5): 1619-1636.

·       Ricklefs, R. E., and S. S. Renner. 2000. Evolutionary flexibility and flowering plant familial diversity: a comment on Dodd, Silvertown, and Chase. Evolution 54(3): 1061-1065.

·       Schaefer, H., and S. S. Renner. 2008. A phylogeny of the oil bee tribe Ctenoplectrini (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) based on mitochondrial and nuclear data: Evidence for Early Eocene divergence and repeated out-of-Africa dispersal. Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution 47: 799-811.

·       Sun, J-F., Y-B. Gong, S. S. Renner, and S-Q. Huang. 2008. Multifunctional bracts in the dove tree Davidia involucrata (Nyssaceae: Cornales): rain protection and pollinator attraction. American Naturalist 171: 119-124.

·       Tosaki, Y., S. S. Renner, and H. Takahashi. 2001. Pollination of Sarcandra glabra (Chloranthaceae) in natural populations in Japan. J. Plant Res. 114: 423-427.

·       Volz, S. M., and S. S. Renner. 2008. Hybridization, polyploidy, and evolutionary transitions between monoecy and dioecy in Bryonia (Cucurbitaceae). Am. J. Bot. 95: 1297-1306.

·       Wang, Y., D. Zhang, S. S. Renner, and Z. Chen. 2004. A new self-pollination mechanism. Nature 431: 39-40 (pdf).

·       Wang, Y., D. Zhang, S. S. Renner, and Z. Chen. 2005. Self-pollination by sliding pollen in Caulokaempferia coenobialis (Zingiberaceae). Int. J. Plant Sciences 166(5): 753-759 (pdf).


·       Renner, S. S. 1993. A history of botanical exploration in Amazonian Ecuador (1738-1988). Smithsonian Contr. Bot. 82: 1-39. 

·       Renner, S. S. 1994. Ordering systems. Letter to the editor, Science 266: 716.

·       Renner, S. S. 1995. Endress, P., Diversity and Evolutionary Biology of Tropical Flowers. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 10(4): 175-176.

·       Renner, S. S. 1997. Proctor, M., Yeo, P. and A. Lack, The Natural History of Pollination. Plant Science Bulletin 43(3): 75-76.

·       Renner, S. S., and R. E. Ricklefs. 1994. Systematics and biodiversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 9(2): 78 and 9(6): 229-230. Argues against ‘all taxon biodiversity inventories’

·       Renner, S. S. 2001. The phylocode and phylogenetic systems of naming. Invited comment, Smithsonian Symposium on Linnaean Taxonomy in the 21st Century. The Plant Press 4(2): 13-14.

·       Renner, S. S. 2003. C. Herrera and O. Pellmyr, eds., 2002. Plant-Animal Interactions - an Evolutionary Approach. Am. J. Bot. 90(2): 330-332 (pdf).

·       Renner, S. S. 2003. I. C. W. Hardy, ed., Sex Ratios - Concepts and Research Methods. Plant Science Bulletin 48(1): 18-19.

·       Renner, S. S. 2004. J. V. Crisci, L. Katinas, and P. Posadas, 2003. Historical Biogeography - An Introduction. Plant Science Bulletin 50(4): 127.

·       Renner, S. S. 2006. Review of Biogeography, Third Edition by Mark V. Lomolino, Brett R. Riddle, and James H. Brown. Syst. Biol. 55(4): 696-698.

·       Renner, S. S. 2007. Placing plant mating in a broad ecological context. Review of Lawrence D. Harder and Spencer C. H. Barrett, Editors, Ecology and Evolution of Flowers. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22(10): 512-513.

·       Renner, S. S. 2010. Review of L. R. Parenti and M. C. Ebach, Comparative Biogeography: Discovering and Classifying Biogeographical Patterns of a Dynamic Earth. Quarterly Review of Biology 85(2): 224.

·       Renner, S. S. 2011. Living fossil younger than thought. Science 334: 766-767. Invited commentary on N. S. Nagalingum et al., Science 334, 2011.

·       Renner, S. S., and M. Piednoel. 2013. Review of R. DeSalle and J. Rosenfeld, Phylogenomics: A primer. Systematic Biology 62(6): 917-918.

·       Renner, S. S. 2014. Review of M. Schmitt, From Taxonomy to Phylogenetics – Life and Work of Willi Hennig. Systematic Biology 63(3): 452-453.

·       Renner, S. S. 2015. Review of Cotton E., Borchsenius F. & Balslev H.: A revision of Axinaea (Melastomataceae ). The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 2014. ISBN 978-87-7304-385-1. Willdenowia 45: 157-157

·       Amann, R., Gemeinholzer, B., Häuser, C., Jahn, R., Lohrmann, V., Lüter, C., Meyer, A., Misof, B., Raupach, M., Renner, S. S., Roos, C., Rossello-Mora, R., Schleifer, K.H., Suerbaum, S., Vences, M., Vogel, J., Wägele, J.W. 2014. Challenges and Opportunities of Integrative Taxonomy for Research and Society. Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina e.V. Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften. Halle/Saale, 56 pp.

·       Renner, S. S. 2016. Obituary for Stefan Vogel (1925-2015). Taxon 65(1): 203-209.

·       Wolcott, K. A., and S. S. Renner. 2017. The J. W. Helfer collections made near Calcutta, in Burma, and on the Andaman Islands between 1836 and 1840 – an overlooked resource. Archives of Natural History 44(2): 00-00.


Lab members and projects

Ph.D. students since 1999

Postdoctoral associates

·       Nov 2001-31 May 2002, Aruna Weerasooriya, now a research scientist, A & M University, Prairie View, Texas

·       Jun 2002-31 May 2003, Libing Zhang, now an Associate Curator, Missouri Botanical Garden 

·       Mar 2004-Jan 2005, Livia Wanntorp, currently teaching and coaching

·       Jun 2003-31 May 2007, Alexander Kocyan, currently a researcher at the Biological Institute of the University of Berlin-Potsdam

·       Sep 2004-30 Apr 2008, Hanno Schaefer, currently an Associate Professor, Technical University Munich

·       Nov 2004-1 Mar 2010, Boris O. Schlumpberger, now a curator at the Herrenhäuser Gardens, Hannover

·       Oct 2006-Aug 2010, Ryan Oyama, now a researcher with Pioneer-Dupont, Kauai, Hawaii

·       May 2009-May 2010, Shixiao Luo, now a researcher at the South China Botanical Garden, Guangzhou

·       Sep 2009-present, Natalie Cusimano, obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Munich and is currently funded by a stipend for early-career female scientists.

·       May 2009- June 2011, Natalia Filipowicz, currently an Assistant Professor at the Medical University of Gdansk, Poland. In the Renner lab, she was working on the economically important groups Brunfelsia (Solanaceae) and Luffa (Cucurbitaceae)

·       Jan 2010- Sep2012, Florian Jabbour. Dr. Jabbour is now an Assistant Professor at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

·       Mar 2010- March 2011, Ewa Siedlecka, currently a researcher in the Dept. of Plant Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology, Warsaw University of Life Sciences.

·       Jan 2011- March 2014, Mathieu Piednoel, since March 2014, Mathieu is a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne.

·       Mar-Jul 2011, Jelena Aleksic, an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering in Belgrade, Serbia.

·       Oct 2011-June 2014, Juan Carlos Villarreal. Dr. Villarreal is an Ass. Prof. at Laval University, Quebec, Canada, and also holds a Tupper fellowship at STRI in Panama

·       April 2012-May 2014, Stefan Abrahamzcyk, currently in a new postdoc position at the University of Bonn.

·       Jan-April 2013 and Nov. 2014-Nov. 2015, Lingyun Chen, Ph.D., Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, P.R. China. During his first visit Lingyun worked on Aponogeton; during his second visit, he was working on the evolution of Asian Lobelia.

·       April 2013-April 2014, Aug. 2014, Aline Martins, Dr. Martins is currently an Associate Professor at a university in Brasília, Brazil.

·       Jul-Sep 2013, Shweta Subramaniam; Dr. Subramaniam is now an associate professor at a college in Dehli.

·       July 2014-, Aretuza Sousa: Sequence and chromatin characteristics of the largest known plant sex chromosome; a postdoctoral project at the University of Munich and the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Research in Gatersleben.

·       April-3 July 2015, Guiling Sun, Key Laboratory of Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Education & Position

1980 M. Sc. in Biology, University of Hamburg
1984 Dr. rer. nat., University of Hamburg
1992 Habilitation (Dr. habil.) in Botanical systematics

1987-92 Associate Professor, Botanical Institute, University of Aarhus
1993-96 Full Professor, Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Mainz
1996-06 Professor, Department of Biology, University of Missouri-St. Louis

1996-   Associate Faculty, The Missouri Botanical Garden
2003-    Chair, Systematic Botany, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich;
              Director of the Nymphenburg Botanical Garden;
              Director of the Botanische Staatssammlung (M) and the University Herbarium (MSB)

2012- Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology, University of Missouri-St. Louis


Prof. Dr. Susanne S. Renner
Botanische Staatsanstalten
Menzinger Str. 67
80638 Munich



Last up-dated: 29 September 2016