Barbara Gravendeel

Barbara Gravendeel

I am a botanist and fascinated by the emerging field of evolution and development in an ecological context (eco-evodevo). I investigate how molecular mechanisms shape the morphological diversity of plant organs, both over deep evolutionary time in ancient biomes, as well as in newly created environments, most notably cities. Together with my collaborators, I work on eco-evodevo of orchid flowers, fruits and peduncles, lantern flowers and dandelion pappus.


Development, flowers, fruits, genomics, herbaria, orchids, plants, transcriptomics, urban evolution

Prof. Dr. Barbara Gravendeel

Researcher and group leader
Evolutionary Ecology
+31 (0)6  106 64 277

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Evolution and ecology are intimately related. Research over the last decades has shown that evolutionary changes are taking place much more rapidly than previously thought, and contribute to the ecological adaptation repertoire of species. Such adaptation mechanisms are of vital importance for species to survive in the anthropocene.

Human induced changes have become an important cause of plant evolution worldwide. More and more people live in cities nowadays and this has led to huge changes in environmental conditions and the spatial configuration of natural habitats in the landscape. Wild species are rapidly adapting to the urban biome. We investigate adaptations of urban plant species by studying museum specimens collected in areas that became increasingly urbanized over the past 200 years. We revisit these areas to recollect specimens and study traits differently selected for in urban versus non-urban environments with a suite of  micro-morphological and genetic tools.

Erycina pusilla
Cynorkis fastigiata and Epipactis helleborine


A selection of the topics I am working on currently.

En Tibi herbarium of tomato

Ancient tomato genomics

Past processes that shaped the current genetic diversity of the domesticated tomato are still largely unknown. Using Illumina HiSeq, we sequenced and compared full genomes from tomato accessions stored worldwide in genebanks and herbaria up to 182 years…
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  • Dirks-Mulder A., Ahmed I., uit het Broek M., Krol L., Menger N., Snier J., Winzum A. van, de Wolf A., van ‘t Wout M., Zeegers J.J., Butot R., Heijungs R., van Heuven B.J. van, Kruizinga J., Langelaan R., Smets E.F., Star W., Bemer M. Gravendeel B. 2019. Morphological and molecular characterization of orchid fruit development. Frontiers in Plant Science 10: 137. 
  • Bogarin D., Perez-Escobar O.A., Groenenberg D.S.J., Karremans A.P., Lemmon A.R., Moriarty-Lemmon E.M., Pupulin F., Smets E.F., Gravendeel B. 2018. Anchored hybrid enrichment generated nuclear, plastid and mitochondrial markers resolve the Lepathes horrida (Orchidaceae: Pleurothallidinae) species complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 129: 27-47.
  • Dirks-Mulder, A., Butot, R., van Schaik, P., Wijnands, J.W.P.M., van den Berg, R., Krol, L., Doebar, S., van Kooperen, K., de Boer, H., Kramer, E.M., Smets, E.F., Vos, R.A., Vrijdaghs, A., Gravendeel, B. Exploring the evolutionary origin of floral organs of Erycina pusilla, an emerging orchid model system. 2017. BMC Evolutionary Biology 17: 89.
  • Merckx V.S.F.T., Hendriks K.P., Beentjes K.K., Mennes C.B., Becking L.E., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A., Afendy A., Arumugam N., de Boer H., Biun A., Buang M.M., Chen P.-P., Chung A.Y.C., Dow R., Feijen F.A.A., Feijen H., Feijen-van Soest C, Geml J., Geurts R., Gravendeel B., Hovenkamp P., Imbun P., Ipor I., Janssens S.B., Jocqué M. Kappes H., Khoo E., Koomen P., Lens F., Majapun R.J., Morgado L.N., Neupane S., Nieser N., Pereira J.T., Rahman H., Sabran S., Sawang A., Schwallier R.M., Shim P.-S., Smit H., Sol N., Spait M., Stech M., Stokvis F., Sugau J.B., Suleiman M., Sumail S., Thomas D.C., van Tol J., Tuh F.Y.Y., Yahya B.E., Nais J., Repin R., Lakim M. & Schilthuizen M. 2015. Evolution of endemism on a young tropical mountain. Nature 524: 347-350.
  • Ramirez, S.R., B. Gravendeel, R.B. Singer, C.R. Marshall & N.E. Pierce. 2007. Dating the origin of the Orchidaceae from a fossil orchid with its pollinator. Nature 448: 1042-1045.


Naturalis aims to be a breeding ground for international scientific talent. Therefore, PhD's and postdocs have a special position in our organisation.


    • Diego Bogarin
    • Annemarie Heiduk
    • Adam Karremans
    • Richa Kusuma Wati
    • Sarina Veldman


    • Susanne Masters
    • Mehrdad Jahanbanifard
    • Dewi Pramanik
    • Nemi Dorst
    Cynorkis fastigiata and Epipactis helleborine


    I teach the following course at Radboud University:

    • Urban Evolution (NWI-BM090) elective course in Master Biology (3 EC)