Catarina Rydin

Catarina Rydin


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Works at Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
Telephone 08-16 12 15
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 20 A
Room N344
Postal address Institutionen för ekologi miljö och botanik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Professor of Plant Systematics
Director of the Bergius Botanic Garden
Vice Dean of Biology



Macroevolution in ancient clades

In my group, we are interested in macroevolution in vascular plants, the relationship between structure and function, and diversity and distribution in time and space; how features and plant groups evolve over millions of years. I integrate information from molecular data, extant morphology and fossils in order to further elucidate the evolutionary events that resulted in present day diversity. We work mostly with old groups that have a rich fossil record for us to study.

The Gnetales

My main research interest concerns the Gnetales; a small group of seed plants that comprise three distinct genera, Gnetum, Welwitschia and Ephedra. Extant diversity is limited to approximately 70-80 species but these species have long been suggested to be remains of a former much more diverse clade.

Lately, we have also worked with pollination biology in the Gnetales, mainly Ephedra, and we found among other things that one insect-pollinated species of the genus correlates its pollination with the full moon. National Geographic and Swedish Radio produced informative material on this.


We also work with Isoetes (Isoetaceae), a distinct group of lycopods that often, but not always, grow submersed in lakes. The genus comprise about 200 species with cosmopolitan distribution, and is the only remaining representative of the rhizomorphic lycopsids (Isoetales), an ancient clade that includes the well-known tree-lycopods from the Carboniferous period.

Recent studies in my group have dated the living clade of Isoetes to the Jurassic, and several major subclades are older than the break-up of the Gondwanan super continent. This is surprising and stand in sharp contrast with the observed low morphological and molecular divergence within the genus.

The Rubiaceae

Rubiaceae comprise more than 13,000 species, with a worldwide distribution. They are easily recognized with their (generally) opposite branching and phylotaxis, interpetiolar stipules and epigynous flowers. Several crucial questions on evolutionary relationships within Rubiaceae have remained unanswered and intrafamilial phylogeny and character evolution are still not fully comprehended.

Our current projects mainly concern the subfamily Rubioideae, a clade which includes nearly 7500 species. We study phylogeny, biogeography, character evolution, and pollination biology, based on field work, molecular data and morphological investigations.


Selected publications

Rydin C, Wikström N, Bremer B. 2017. Conflicting results from mitochondrial genomic data challenge current views of Rubiaceae phylogeny. Am J Bot 104(10): 1522–1532.

Evkaikina AI, Berke L, Romanova MA, Proux-Wéra E, Ivanova AN, Rydin C, Pawlowski K, Voitsekhovskaja OV. 2017. The Huperzia selago shoot tip transcriptome sheds new light on the evolution of leaves. Genome Biol Evol 9(9): 2444–2460.

Humphreys AM, Rydin C, Jønsson KA, Alsop D, Callender-Crowe LM Barraclough TG. 2016. Detecting evolutionarily significant units above the species level using the Generalized Mixed Yule Coalescent method. Meth Ecol Evol, doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12603.

Hou C, Wikström N, Strijk JS, Rydin C 2016. Resolving phylogenetic relationships and species delimitations in closely related gymnosperms using high-throughput NGS, Sanger sequencing and morphology. Plant Syst Evol, doi: 10.1007/s00606-016-1335-1.

Persson N, Rydin C 2016. Phylogenetic relationships of the ‘Briza complex’ to other members of the subfamily Pooideae (Poaceae). Plant Ecol Evol 149: 216–227.

Bolinder K, Humphreys AM, Ehrlén J, Alexandersson R, Ickert-Bond SM, Rydin C 2016. From near extinction to diversification by means of a shift in pollination mechanism in the gymnosperm relict Ephedra (Ephedraceae, Gnetales). Bot J Linn Sci 180: 461-477.

Hou C, Wikström N, Rydin C 2016. The chloroplast genome of Ephedra foeminea (Ephedraceae, Gnetales), an entomophilous gymnosperm endemic to the Mediterranean area. Mitochondrial DNA, doi: 10.3109/19401736.2015.1122768.

Rydin C, Hoorn C 2016. The Gnetales: past and present. Grana 55(1): 1-4.

Bolinder K, Norbäck Ivarsson L, Humphreys AM, Ickert-Bond SM, Han F, Hoorn C, Rydin C 2016. Pollen morphology of Ephedra (Gnetales) and its evolutionary implications. Grana 55(1): 24-51.

Larsén E, Rydin C 2016. Disentangling the phylogeny of Isoetes (Isoetales), using nuclear and plastid data. Int J Plant Sci 177(2): 157-174.

Jörgensen A, Rydin C 2015. Reproductive morphology in the Gnetum cuspidatum group (Gnetales) and its implications for pollination biology in the Gnetales. Plant Ecol Evol 148(3): 387–396.

Rydin C, Bolinder K 2015. Moonlight pollination in the gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales). Biol Lett 11: 20140993.

Hou C, Humphreys AM, Thureborn O, Rydin C 2015. New insights into the evolutionary history of Gnetum (Gnetales). Taxon 64:239-253.

Bolinder K, Niklas KJ, Rydin C 2015. Aerodynamics and pollen ultrastructure in Ephedra (Gnetales). Am J Bot 102:457-470. Highlighted as “paper of the month” by the journal.

Ickert-Bond SM, Rydin C 2011. Micromorphology of the seed envelope of Ephedra L. (Gnetales) and its relevance for the timing of evolutionary events. Int J Plant Sci 172(1):36-48.

Rydin C, Khodabandeh A, Endress PK 2010. The female reproductive unit of Ephedra (Gnetales): comparative morphology and evolutionary perspectives. Bot J Linn Soc 163:387–430.

Rydin C, Friis EM 2010. A new Early Cretaceous relative of Gnetales: Siphonospermum simplex gen. et sp. nov. from the Yixian Formation of northeast China. BMC Evol Biol 10:183.

Ickert-Bond SM, Rydin C, Renner SS 2009. A fossil-calibrated relaxed clock for Ephedra indicates an Oligocene age for the divergence of Asian and New World clades and Miocene dispersal into South America. J Syst Evol 47:444–456.

Rydin C, Korall P 2009. Evolutionary relationships in Ephedra (Gnetales) – with implications for seed plant phylogeny. Int J Plant Sci 170:1031–1043.

Rydin C, Razafimandimbison SG, Khodabandeh A, Bremer B 2009. Evolutionary relationships in the Spermacoceae alliance (Rubiaceae) using information from six loci: insights into systematic affinities of Neohymenopogon and Mouretia. Taxon 58:793–810.

Rydin C, Kainulainen K, Razafimandimbison SG, Smedmark JEE, Bremer B 2009. Deep divergences in the coffee family and the systematic position of Acranthera. Plant Syst Evol 278:101-123.

Rydin C, Razafimandimbison SG, Bremer B 2008. Rare and enigmatic genera (Dunnia, Schizocolea, Colletocema), sisters to species-rich clades: Phylogeny and aspects of conservations biology in the coffee family. Mol Phylogenet Evol 48: 74-83.

Rydin C, Pedersen KR, Crane PR, Friis EM 2006. Former diversity of Ephedra (Gnetales): evidence from Early Cretaceous seeds from Portugal and North America. Ann Bot 98:123-140.

Rydin C, Wu S-Q, Friis EM 2006. Liaoxia Cao et SQ Wu (Gnetales): ephedroids from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation in Liaoning, northeastern China. Plant Syst Evol 262:239-265.

Rydin C, Friis EM 2005. Pollen germination in Welwitschia mirabilis Hook.f.: differences between the polyplicate pollen producing genera of the Gnetales. Grana 44:137-141.

Rydin C, Pedersen KR, Friis EM 2004. On the evolutionary history of Ephedra; Cretaceous fossils and extant molecules. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:16571-16576.

Rydin C, Mohr BAR, Friis EM 2003. Cratonia cotyledon gen. et sp. nov.: a unique Cretaceous seedling related to Welwitschia. Proc Roy Soc London 270:S1:29-32.

Rydin C, Wikström N 2002. Phylogeny of Isoetes (Lycopsida): resolving basal relationships using rbcL sequences. Taxon 51:83-89.

Rydin C, Källersjö M 2002. Taxon sampling and seed plant phylogeny. Cladistics 18:485-513.

Rydin C, Källersjö M, Friis EM 2002. Seed plant relationships and the systematic position of Gnetales based on nuclear and chloroplast DNA: conflicting data, rooting problems and the monophyly of conifers. Int J Plant Sci 163:197-214.

Last updated: February 12, 2018

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