Department of Taxonomy

Head: Mgr. Zdeněk Kaplan, Ph.D.

People ׀ Projects ׀ Publications

Research topics

Systematics and taxonomy of vascular plants:

  • Revision and synthesis of plant diversity
  • Taxonomic monographs
  • Plant evolution and phylogenetic relationships
  • Evolutionary and ecological consequences of genome size variation
  • Reproductive systems and microevolution

Systematics, taxonomy and ecology of lichens and fungi (lichenized and non-lichenized fungi):

  • Diversity, ecology and evolution of lichens
  • Protection of lichens
  • Taxonomy and systematics of ascomycetes

Selected recent results

1/ Genetic insight into the adaptation of plants to toxic soils

We showed that genome doubling is an important source of genetic variants. We found that Arabidopsis arenosa repeatedly colonized and adapted to serpentines, toxic edaphic soils, which contain high levels of heavy metals and magnesium. We identified 61 genes under selection. Most of adaptive variants of these genes had a shared origin. However, we also identified potentially functional de novo mutations in polyploids suggesting their broad evolutionary flexibility.

  • Konečná V., Bray S., Vlček J., Bohutínská M., Požárová D., Choudhury R. R., Bollmann-Giolai A., Flis P., Salt D. E., Parisod C., Yant L. & Kolář F. 2021: Parallel adaptation in autopolyploid Arabidopsis arenosa is dominated by repeated recruitment of shared alleles. Nature Communications 12, 1 – 13. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-25256-5

Modelový druh Arabidopsis arenosa na hadcové lokalitě v Rakousku. Foto D. Požárová

Model species Arabidopsis arenosa at a serpentine locality in Austria. Credit D. Požárová


2/ Genomic basis of parallel adaptation varies with divergence in Arabidopsis and its relatives

Can we predict evolution? This question is interesting to evolutionary biologists and also to researchers fighting antibiotics or pesticide resistance. We studied the degree of predictability on a model system of convergent adaptation, in which unrelated lineages independently adapt t similar environmental challenges. Thanks to the population genomics analysis of hundreds of plants we showed that the species adapt more similarly (via more comparable gene sets) if they are more related. The reason for this relationship is the ability of related lineages to share beneficial alleles, which they can repeatedly use in their adaptation.

  • Bohutínská M., Vlček J., Yair S., Laenen B., Konečná V., Fracassetti M., Slotte T. & Kolář F. 2021: Genomic basis of parallel adaptation varies with divergence in Arabidopsis and its relatives. Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America 118, 1 – 10. doi:10.1073/pnas.2022713118

   Opakovaně vzniklé horské formy huseníčku Arabidopsis arenosa (horní řada) a jejich nížinní předchůdci (dolní řada).

Independently evolved alpine forms of Arabidopsis arenosa (upper row) and their foothill ancestors (bottom row).


3/ Disparity between morphology and genetics in Urtica dioica (Urticaceae)

The Urtica dioica agg. is a striking example of a polyploid complex, in which diploid taxa are often found in remote and partly relictual geographical ranges, in contrast to widely distributed weed tetraploids, which have an unknown evolutionary history and occur in a variety of synanthropic habitats. Our morphological studies have revealed that diploids form more-or-less separate clusters corresponding to widely accepted subspecies, while molecular evaluation did not reveal any clear structure. Moreover, tetraploids coalesced with diploids in both morphological and molecular analyses, except for plants from south-western Asia. The low genetic differentiation and disparity between morphological and molecular data might be driven by local adaptation of the diploid cytotype that is mirrored in specific phenotypes, only recent genetic diversification of the group and/or homoploid and heteroploid hybridization events.

  • Rejlová L., Böhmová A., Chumová Z., Hořčicová Š., Josefiová J., Schmidt P.-A., Trávníček P., Urfus T., Vít P. & Chrtek J. 2021: Disparity between morphology and genetics in Urtica dioica (Urticaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 195, 606 – 621. doi:10.1093/botlinnean/boaa076

Diploidní Urtica dioica subsp. kurdistanica: (A) horní část rostliny, (B) přírodní stanoviště v turecké jižní Anatolii, (C) střední část lodyhy (foto T. Urfus).

Diploid Urtica dioica subsp. kurdistanica: (A) upper part of the plant, (B) natural habitat in southern Anatolia, Turkey, (C) middle part of the stem (photo by T. Urfus).


4/ Exploring generic boundaries in the Chaetosphaeriaceae

Based on a polyphasic approach we present a new, comprehensive view on the systematics and taxonomy of several genera of microscopic fungi, namely Catenularia, Dictyochaeta, Menisporopsis and Zanclospora. They are associated with significant variability of asexual morphological traits, which led to their broad delimitation. On the other hand, their sexual characters are uniform, leading to speculations whether the extensive morphological plasticity of asexual morphs could be correlated with their ecology. By integrating molecular, RNA structural, morphological and biogeographic data, it was possible to resolve and clarify the concepts of several genera that have been identified as polyphyletic. The dual DNA barcoding using ITS and tef1-α genes, together with tub2, facilitated accurate identification of members of these genera. The geographic distribution inferred from metabarcoding data using GlobalFungi database was consistent with known data and significantly increased our knowledge. Our studies are part of a long-term project leading to a rational classification of chaetosphaeriaceous genera based on phylogeny, and will help find answers regarding the value of morphological characters traditionally used to delimit microscopic fungi.

  • Réblová M., Nekvindová J., Kolařík M. & Hernández-Restrepo M. 2021: Delimitation and phylogeny of Dictyochaeta, and introduction of Achrochaeta and Tubulicolla, genera nova. Mycologia 113, 390 – 433. doi:10.1080/00275514.2020.1822095
  • Réblová M., Kolařík M., Nekvindová J., Miller A. N. & Hernández-Restrepo, M. 2021: Phylogeny, global biogeography and pleomorphism of Zanclospora. Microorganisms 9, 1 – 61. doi:10.3390/microorganisms9040706
  • Réblová M., Nekvindová J. & Miller A. N. 2021: Phylogeny and taxonomy of Catenularia and similar fungi with catenate conidia. MycoKeys 81, 1 – 44. doi:10.3897/mycokeys.81.67785
  • Réblová M., Nekvindová J. & Hernández-Restrepo M. 2021: Reflections on Menisporopsis, Multiguttulispora and Tainosphaeria using molecular and morphological data. Journal of Fungi 7, 1 – 36. doi:10.3390/jof7060438

Kolonie a jejich variabilita v rámci druhového komplexu Dictyochaeta fuegiana na čtyřech různých médiích a na sterilních stoncích kopřivy dvoudomé.

Variability of colonies of the Dictyochaeta fuegiana complex on four nutrient media and sterile stems of Urtica dioica.


5/ Atlas of Czech lichens:

At the beginning of 2021, a new on-line atlas of lichens in the Czech Republic was launched. This is the first Czech lichen atlas, produced with the aim to make the data collected more transparent and better accessible. The portal includes general characteristics of the Czech lichen biota, current taxonomic treatment and specific information on ecology, distribution and abundance of more than 1700 taxa. Almost 2000 pictures are available in the photo gallery and in individual species cards. For specialists, we developed a database of lichen secondary metabolites, which plays an important role in lichen identifications. General biodiversity (hot-spot) maps and individual species maps are generated from almost 141 000 current records in the DaLiBor database (Database of Lichens and Bryophytes in the Czech Republic). For every single record, a user can display details, including locality, date of collection, substrate and original source. The atlas should serve the public as well as specialists. We believe it will become a useful tool in practical nature conservation. Information on the website is available in Czech and English.

Biodiverzita lišejníků ČR – počet taxonů nalezených ve čtverci o velikosti 11×12 km (zdroj

Lichen biodiversity in the Czech Republic – number of taxa recorded in 11×12 km squares (source:


6/ A strikingly high species diversity on the Roof of the World: the genus Taraxacum in Ladakh

A detailed exploration of Ladakh, a mountain region situated in a rain shadow of the Great Himalaya Range, revealed a twice higher plant species diversity than previously known. The monograph of the model genus Taraxacum encompasses 120 species, of which 50 were discovered as new. This study revealed that the West Himalaya represents one of the world centres of the Taraxacum diversity, with a number of endemic and morphologically and evolutionarily isolated species.

  • Kirschner J., Štěpánek J., Klimeš L., Dvorský M., Brůna J., Macek M. & Kopecký M. 2020. The Taraxacum flora of Ladakh, with notes on the adjacent regions of the West Himalaya. Phytotaxa 457: 1-409. doi: 10.11646/phytotaxa.457.1.1

Taraxacum dilutissimum Kirschner & Štěpánek, one of the most widespread species in Ladakh, which was, however, scientifically unknown until recently.


7/ Parallel alpine differentiation in Arabidopsis arenosa

Parallel evolution provides powerful natural experiments for studying repeatability of evolution and genomic basis of adaptation. Well-documented examples from plants are, however, still rare. Arabidopsis arenosa, a predominantly foothill species with scattered morphologically distinct alpine occurrences is a promising candidate. We sampled foothill and alpine populations in all regions known to harbor the alpine ecotype and used SNP genotyping to test for repeated alpine colonization. We combined field surveys and a common garden experiment to quantify phenotypic parallelism. Genetic clustering by region and coalescent simulations demonstrated parallel origin of alpine ecotype in four mountain regions. Alpine populations exhibited parallelism in height and floral traits. In contrast, leaf traits were distinctive only in certain region(s), reflecting a mixture of plasticity and genetically determined non-parallelism. We demonstrate varying degrees and causes of parallelism and non-parallelism across populations and traits within a plant species. Parallel divergence along a sharp elevation gradient makes A. arenosa a promising candidate for studying the genomic basis of adaptation.

  • Knotek A., Konečná V., Wos G., Požárová D., Šrámková G., Bohutínská M., Zeisek V., Marhold K. & Kolář F. Parallel alpine differentiation in Arabidopsis arenosa. Frontiers in Plant Science 2020, 11:561526. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2020.561526

 Alpine morphotype of Arabidospsi arenosa from four mountain ranges: (A) Niedere Tauern, (B) Vysoké Tatry, (C) Rodna, (D) Făgăraș.
Alpine morphotype of Arabidospsi arenosa from four mountain ranges: (A) Niedere Tauern, (B) Vysoké Tatry, (C) Rodna, (D) Făgăraș.


8/ Evolutionary relationships within the aquatic plant genus Callitriche

Despite a number of unique environmental adaptations, aquatic plants are considerably underrepresented in contemporary biosystematic studies. Moreover, the determination and taxonomic evaluation of aquatic plants is intricate due to the strong morphological reduction and a high degree of phenotypic plasticity. We reconstructed the phylogenetic relationships within the notoriously challenging aquatic genus Callitriche. We demonstrated that most of the recognized Callitriche species are genetically well defined, despite their similar morphologies. In at least three species we discovered and proved the occurrence of cryptic, previously unknown genetic lineages. Two species are probably allopolyploids, i.e. they arose through hybridization and subsequent genome duplication. We also detected four interspecific hybrids, two of which we described as new to science.

  • Prančl J.,  Fehrer J., Caklová P., Bambasová V., Lučanová M. & Kaplan Z. Intricate evolutionary history of Callitriche (Plantaginaceae) taxa elucidated by a combination of DNA sequencing and genome size. Taxon 2020, 69: 1016–1041. doi: 10.1002/tax.12315

Porost hvězdoše Callitriche obtusangula. Foto J. Prančl
Floating leaf rosettes of blunt-fruited water starwort (Callitriche obtusangula).


9/ New insights into the systematics of Chaetosphaeriales and Savoryellales

Microscopic fungi of Chaetosphaeriales and Savoryellales are important components of ecosystems inhabiting decaying wood and leaves. We focused on traditionally broadly conceived Bactrodesmium and Chaetosphaeria. Research based on phylogenetic analyses, culture and morphological studies enabled to evaluate important taxonomic traits and placement of both genera. After 155 years since the description, we successfully collected B. abruptum, type species of the genus, which prompted a revision of the genus. We discovered that conidia secede rhexolytically, exhibiting multiple secession patterns. We stabilized the generic concept of Bactrodesmium in Savoryellales, while unrelated species were transferred to new genera Aphanodesmium, Gamsomyces and Kaseifertia. Although the morphology of sexual states of most Chaetosphaeria is relatively uniform, their asexual states show variability and evolutionary change. An exception to this morphological monotony is the group of species defined by the unique wall of the fruit body and the morphology of the needle-like spores. We resurrected the genus Paragaeumannomyces in Chaetosphaeriaceae, where these former Chaetosphaeria species were transferred.

  • Réblová M., Nekvindová J., Fournier J. & Miller A. N. Delimitation, new species and teleomorph-anamorph relationships in Codinaea, Dendrophoma, Paragaeumannomyces and Striatosphaeria (Chaetosphaeriaceae). MycoKeys 2020, 74: 17–74. doi: 10.3897/mycokeys.74.57824

Coloured fruit bodies of representatives of Paragaeumannomyces and a vertical section of the wall exhibiting a unique three-layered structure.
Coloured fruit bodies of representatives of Paragaeumannomyces and a vertical section of the wall exhibiting a unique three-layered structure.