Kitty Vijverberg

Kitty Vijverberg

I am a plant biologist with an interest in (a)sexual reproduction and flower development. My focus is on the identification of the underlying genetic basis. I use Taraxacum officinale (native dandelion) as a research model. One current challenge is to understand the impact of urbanization on biodiversity. Species are under threat, but do human-created environments also result in (accelerated) species formation? To answer this question, I investigate the urban evolution of achenes and pappus in dandelion.


Achenes, dandelion, evolution, floral development, molecular biology, pappus, urbanization


I work in the field of apomixis, the formation of seeds without fertilization, in dandelions. First to isolate genes involved in unreduced meiosis, diplospory. Recently on parthenogenesis, spontaneous embryo development.

Ongoing urbanization is one of the major threats to the conservation of global biodiversity and will have an increasing impact on human well-being. Not much effort has yet been made to map urban evolution of plants. Population dynamic models predict that the probability of survival of plants in fragmented landscapes is influenced especially by dispersal rates. Preliminary results indicate that urban populations produce larger quantities of poorer-dispersing seeds as compared to rural ones. Mapping the changes and underlying genetic modifications and their frequency and speed of occurrence are crucial first steps in understanding urban plant evolution.



I study the evolution and development of flowers and fruits of Taraxacum officinale in fragmented habitats of urban environments. For this I compare the morphology of urban and rural populations, also in herbarium specimens that were once collected in rural areas that have since been transformed into urban environments. I use microscopic analysis combined with RNAseq / qPCR experiments and micro CT scanning.



  • Underwood CJ, Vijverberg K et al. 2022. A PARTHENOGENESIS allele from apomictic dandelion can induce egg cell division without fertilization in lettuce. Nature Genetics 54: 84-93
  • Vijverberg K, Ozias-Akins P, Schranz ME. 2019. Identifying and engineering genes for parthenogenesis in plants. Review in Frontiers in Plant Science section Plant Breeding, topic Genetics and Genomics of Plant Reproduction for Crop Breeding,
  • The Petunia Genome Consortium, including Vijverberg K. 2016. Insight into the evolution of the Solanaceae from the parental genomes of Petunia hybrida. Nature Plants 2(16074): 1-9 / Supplementary Note 9 (manuscript): Vijverberg K, D'Agostino N, Gerats T. Identification of conserved miRNAs in P. axillaris and P. inflata young flower buds and verification in the Petunia genome sequence, 201674-s9.
  • Wüst S, Vijverberg K, Schmidt A, Weiss M, Gheyselinck J, Lohr M, Wellmer F, Rahnenführer J, von Mering C, Grossniklaus U. 2010. Arabidopsis Female Gametophyte Gene Expression Map Reveals Similarities between Plant and Animal Gametes. Current Biology 20:506-12.
  • Vijverberg K, Ivanovic S, Bakx-Schotman JMT, van Dijk PJ. 2010. Genetic fine mapping of DIPLOSPOROUS in Taraxacum (dandelion) indicates a duplicated DIP-gene. BMC Plant Biology 10:154.
  • Vijverberg K, Mes THM, Bachmann K. Chloroplast DNA evidence for the adaptive radiation of Australian and New Zealand Microseris (Asteraceae) after long-distance dispersal from western North America. 1999. American Journal of Botany 86:1448-1463.

All publications


I give / have given invited lectures related to my research topics in the following MSc and BSc courses at Leiden University (LU), Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen (HAN) and Radboud University (RU):

  • Genomic Architecture; Evolution and Development of Plants; Urban studies  (LU)
  • Evolution and Systematics; Advanced Biosystematics (WUR)
  • Molecular Plant Biology (HAN)
  • Genetics and Population Genetics; Genome Analysis of Plants; Orientation on Biology; Genomics and Ecogenomics (RUN)
  • I coordinated and lectured the BSc course Celbiochemistry (RUN, 2014/15, 15/16)
  • I am coordinating an internship on the Urban evolutionof fruits of dandelion

In the

Spontane embryo-ontwikkeling handig voor plantenveredelaars


  • Spontane-embryo-ontwikkeling-handig-voor-plantenveredelaars:
  • Sleutelgen ontdekt om gewassenzaden te laten maken die genetisch identiek zijn aan moederplant:


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