Susanne S. Renner

Lab members and projects,

References in google scholar

We are working on the systematics, biogeography, and evolution of plants. A long-standing interest is the evolution of dioecy, heterodichogamy, and sex change. These interests led to projects on the evolution of plant sex chromosomes, focusing on Cucurbitaceae, and work on genome size evolution in Orobanchaceae and Araceae, using molecular cytogenetics and next generation sequencing. 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 (alternative mailing addresses see end of page):

Selected publications, sorted by topics and clades



·       Panchen, Z.A., Primack, R., Nordt, B., Ellwood, E.R., Stevens, A-D., Renner, S.S., Willis, C.G., Fahey, R., Whittemore, A., Du, Y., and C.C. Davis. 2014. Leaf-out times in temperate woody plants are related to phylogeny, deciduousness, growth habit and wood anatomy. New Phytologist 203: 1208-1219.

·       Zohner, C. M., and S. S. Renner. 2014. Common garden comparison of the leaf-out phenology of woody species from different native climates, combined with herbarium records, forecasts long-term change. Ecology Letters 17(8): 1016-1025.



·       Piednoel, M., A. Sousa, and S. S. Renner. Transposable elements in a clade of tetraploid Orobanche and a diploid relative: Gypsy amplification not consistently linked to tetraploidy (in review).

PLANT SEX CHROMOSOMES, more about pollination and mating system evolution:


·       Cusimano, N., and S. S. Renner. 2014. Ultrametric trees or phylograms for ancestral state reconstruction – does it matter? Taxon 63(4): 721-726.

·       Grimm, G. W., P. Kapli, B. Bomfleur, S. McLoughlin, and S. S. Renner. 2015. Using more than the oldest fossils: Dating Osmundaceae with three Bayesian clock approaches. Systematic Biology, doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syu108

·       Renner, S. S. 2010. Biogeographic insights from a short-lived Paleocene island in the Ninetyeast Ridge. Journal of Biogeography 37(7): 1177-1178.

·       Vamosi, J., S. Armbruster, and S. S. Renner. 2014. Evolutionary ecology of specialisation: insights from phylogenetic analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281, 20142004,

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


·       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., 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.






·       Chacón, J., and S. S. Renner. 2014. Assessing model sensitivity in ancestral area reconstruction using Lagrange: A case study using the Colchicaceae family. Journal of Biogeography 41(7): 1414-1427

·       Chacón, J., N. Cusimano, and S. S. Renner. 2014. The evolution of Colchicaceae, with a focus on changes in chromosome numbers. Systematic Botany 39(2): 415-427.

·       Chomicki, G., L. P. R. Bidel, F. Ming, M. Coiro, X. Zhang, Y. Wang, Y. Baissac, C. Jay-Allemand, and S. S. Renner. 2014. The velamen protects photosynthetic orchid roots against UV-B damage, and a large dated phylogeny implies multiple gains and losses of this function during the Cenozoic. New Phytologist, online early

·       Sousa, A. N. Cusimano, S. S. Renner. 2014. Combining FISH and model-based predictions to understand chromosome evolution in Typhonium (Araceae). Annals of Botany 113: 669-680.

·       Sousa, A., and S. S. Renner. Interstitial telomere-like repeats in the monocot family Araceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society, online 18 Dec. 2014, Doi: 10.1111/boj.12231




·       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.


·       Carvalho, F. A. and S. S. Renner. 2013. Correct names for some of the closest relatives of Carica papaya: A review of the Mexican/Guatemalan genera Jarilla and Horovitzia.  Phytokeys 29: 63–74. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.29.6103

·       Carvalho, F. A., D. Filer, and S. S. Renner. 2014. Taxonomy in the electronic age and an e-monograph of the papaya family (Caricaceae) as an example. Cladistics DOI: 10.1111/cla.12095


·       Bellot, S., and S. S. Renner. 2014. Exploring new dating approaches for parasites: The worldwide Apodanthaceae (Cucurbitales) as an example. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 80: 1-10.

·       Bellot, S., and S. S. Renner. 2014. The systematics of the worldwide endoparasite family Apodanthaceae (Cucurbitales), with a key, a map, and color photos of most species. Phytokeys 36: 41-57.

·       Renner, S. S., G. Chomicki, and W. Greuter. 2014. Proposal to conserve the name Momordica lanata (Citrullus lanatus) (watermelon, Cucurbitaceae), with a conserved type, against Citrullus battich. Taxon 63(4): 941-942.






·       Abrahamczyk, S., and S. S. Renner. The evolutionary build-up of bird/plant mutualisms in temperate North and South America (in review)

·       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. 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 Linnaean Society, 11 Nov. accepted

·       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, 5 Dec. 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.

·       Jersákova, 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.

·       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.

·     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).


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

o   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).

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

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

o   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.

o   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.

o   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.

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

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

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


Lab members and projects

Ph.D. students since 1999

·      Christoph Heibl, University of Munich. R programming in phylogenetics and evolution, Jan. 2006 –Dec. 2009 (sick leave; thesis defense on 11 Dec. 2014). Christoph is a Research Associate in the group of Prof. Hanno Schäfer at the Technical Univ. of Munich.

·       Guillaume Chomicki, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, July 2013- : The evolution of ant/plant mutualisms, with a focus on Asian Rubiaceae and their ants

Past and present postdoctoral associates


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


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



Last up-dated: 24 December 2014