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Harald Schneider

Harald Schneider PhD, habil, FLS

E-Mail: haralds@mail.sysu.ed.cn& h.schneider@nhm.ac.uk


Current Positions

Professor, College of Ecology and Evolution, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, 510265, Guangdong, UK

E-Mail: haralds@mail.sysu.ed.cn

Research Leader, Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK


E-Mail: h.schneider@nhm.ac.uk

Visiting Research Fellow, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK


other web-links:




Research Interests

Macroevolutionary patterns and processes that shaped the patio-temporal distribution of biodiversity with special emphasise on seed-free land plants such as ferns and liverworts. Current research foci comprise studies that aim to elucidate evolvability of plant lineages in the context of morphological disparity, genome structure, polyploidy, reproductive biology, and trophic interactions. The research encompasses phylogenetics including molecular clock analysis and the integration of molecular and morphological evidence, evolutionary plant morphology and anatomy, palaeontology, taxonomy and systematics.


Current Research Programs

 1. Origin of Land Plants: Rocks, Genomes, Biochemical cycles NERC have funded Bristol-Cardiff-NHM-Sheffield-UCL consortium (S Arndt, P Donoghue, D Edwards, P Kenrick, S Pressel, H Schneider, C Wellman, Z Yang) to elucidate the origin and early evolution of land plants and their impact on global biogeochemical cycles.The project aims to establish a robust phylogeny of lan plants calibrated with precision to time based on a genealogy reconstructed based on a genome-scale among of molecular sequence data and inclusion of important and exceptionally preserved fossil species. The results will be used to investigate the evolutionary assembly of key plant organs and tissues in the context of the implications of the plant evolutionary timescale within a leading computer model of global biochemical cycling. For more information http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/projects?ref=NE/N002067/1& http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk/projects?ref=NE/N003438/1

2. Genome evolution in non-seed plants Collaborative research carried out together with Ilia Leith, Oriane Hidalgo, Jaume Pellicer (all RBGKew), Mary Gibby (RBGEdinburgh). The dynamics of genome evolution is arguably a main factor controlling the assembly of biodiversity. Ferns are known for (1) high frequency of polyploidy, (2) accumulation of large chromosome numbers, (3) preservation of DNA in diplodized polyploids, and (4) a unique correlation of chromosome number and genome size. The project aims to elucidate these patterns and to test hypotheses explaining the evolutionary context of these observations. Key Publications: Schneider et al. 2015 New Phytologist 207: 13-13; Clark et al. in press New Phytologist.

3. Evolvability of non-seed plants Biodiveristy is not only unevenly distributed spatially and temporally but also phylogenetically. This project aims to elucidate the causes of the remarkable differences in the species diversity among the main land plant lineages taking into account recent studies on the variation of speciation rates among the lineages of land plants (e.g. Laenen et al. 2015). The project aims to test different mechanisms that may restrict the evolutionary capacity of plants lineages such as ferns including genome evolution, assembly of morphological disparity, and speciation processes.

4. Trophic Interactions of insects and plants with focus on non-seed plants Plants and insects co-diverisified at least since the establishment of terrestrial vegetation dominated by land plants in the Paleozoic. However, most studies of trophic interactions elucidated the interactions of insects and angiosperms whereas trophic interactions with bryophytes and ferns have been widely ignored. The project aims to test the hypothesis that the interactions between insects and non-seed plants are mostly established during or after the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution instead of the conservation of interactions dating back to the late Palaeozoic or early Mesozoic.

 Curriculum Vitae





Sun Yat-Sen University

College of Ecology and Evolution

Research Leader


Natural History Museum, London, UK

Department of Life Sciences

Assistant Professor


Georg-August University, Goettingen, Germany

Biological Faculty, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute of Plant Sciences

Postdoctoral Fellow


Duke University Durham, NC, USA

Biology Department, Research Group of Prof Kathleen M Pryer

Postdoctoral Fellow


University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Department of Integrative Biology, Research Group of Dr Alan R Smith

Postdoctoral Fellow


Field Museum, Chicago, IL, USA

Botany Department, Research Group of Dr Kathleen M Pryer

Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow


University of Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands

Rijksherbarium, Research Group Prof.  Marco Roos





University of Zurich, Institute of Systematic Botany (Switzerland)



Diplom Biology

University of Kaiserslautern, Faculty of Biology (Germany)





Visiting Senior Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, PCR


Elected Fellow of the Linnean Society London http://www.linnean.org


Venia Legendi (Habilitation) Georg August University, Goettingen, Germany


Edgar T Wheery Award, Botanical Society of America


Marie Curie Fellowship of the European Commission

Editorial Boards and Review colleges (current)

Journal of Systematics and Evolution http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1759-6831

Australian Systematic Botanyhttp://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/150.htm

Peer Review College of NERC http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/applicaiton/peerreview

British Ecological Society Peer Review College http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/grants-awards/bes-review-college

 Lab members

Current PhD students

  • James Clark(2014- ; BBRSC) The role of whole genome duplications in plant evolution. Based at University of Bristol, Philip Donoghue Lab (http://www.bris.ac.uk/earthsciences/people/james-w-clark/index.html)co-supervised by Philipp Donoghue.
  • Jeannine Marquardt(2012-; ITN Intercrossing) Analysis of hybrid zones and introgression using NGS. Collaborative research project involving H Schneider (NHM), Joachim Hermisson (University of Vienna), Dirk Metzler (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Germany), Andrew Leitch and Richard Nichols (Queen Mary University London) funded by the EU-Marie Cure Initial Training Network “Intercrossing”(http://intercrossing.wikispaces.com) co-supervised by Andrew Leitch and Richard Nichols (QMUL).
  • Mazhani Binti Muhammad (2013- ; Mayas Government scholar) Phylogenetics of medicinal ferns. Based at the University of Reading, co-supervised by Julie Hawkins (Reading).

Visiting Research Fellows

Hong-Mei Liu, Fairylake Botanical Gardens, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Lab Alumni

Previous Postdocs & PhD/ Ms / MRes / BSc / Diploma / etc students

  • Yan-Fen Chang- PhD student at XTBG & University of Yunnan (2010-2012): Now Curator of the XTBG herbarium.
  • Daniele Cicuzza- Postdoctoral Researcher at NHM (2012). Now Postdoctoral Researcher at XTBG.
  • James Clark- Master student at Imperial College London & NHM (2014): Now PhD student at University of Bristol.
  • Robert J Dyer- PhD student at NHM & Imperial College London (2009-2013) co-supervised by Vicent Savolainen (Imperial College London, UK): Research Assistant, Natural History Museum, London, UK.
  • Wolf Eiserhardt - Diplom Biology, University of Hamburg (2007-2008) co-supervised by Jens Rohwer (Hamburg): Now Marie Curie Fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. http://wolfeiserhardt.net/Wolf_L._Eiserhardts_homepage/Home.html
  • Francesca Everard- Master student at NHM & Imperial College London (2015) co-supervised by Silvia Pressel.
  • Lijuan He- PhD student at GUCAS, IBCAS, NHM (2011-2013) co-supervised by Xianchun Zhang (IBCAS, China):
  • Sabine Hennequin - Postdoctoral Researcher (2009-2011) funded by EU-Marie Postdoctoral Fellowship: Now Maitre de Conferences (Assistant Professor), Institute de Systematique, Evolution, Biodiveristy, UMR 7205, University Pierre and Marie Curie, Sorbonne Universites, Equie Diverse, Evolution vegetable et fonxgiqu, Paris, France http://isyeb.mnhn.fr/annuaire-et-pages-personnelles/pages-personnelles/Sabine-Hennequin?lang=fr
  • Aelys M. Humphreys- Master student at NHM & Imperial College London (2004): Now Postdoctoral Research Associate at Imperial College London. http://barralab.bio.ic.ac.uk/people/dr-aelys-humphreys.html
  • Thomas Janssen-  DEA de Systématique Animale et Végétale Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France (2003) & PhD student at Georg-August University Göttingen, Germany & National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France (2005-2009) co-supervised by France Rakotondrainibe (MNHN, Paris, France): Now Kustos des Spaeth-Arboretums und des Herbariums BHU, Botanik & Arboretum, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät I, Institut für Biologie, Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany. https://www2.hu-berlin.de/biologie/arboretum/arboretum.html
  • Hans-Peter Kreier- PhD student at Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany (2004-2007).
  • Marie-Capuccine Lepeigneux- Master Student at Pierre-Marie Curie University, Paris, France (2010)co-supervised by Sabine Hennequin.
  • Jeannine Marquardt - Master Student at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, German (2011) co-supervised by Dirk Metzler (Munich).
  • Eva Martens - MRes student at NHM, UCL, ZIL (2015).
  • Peter Mundt - Staatsexamensarbeit, Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany (2003).
  • Andrew Murdock- Postdoctoral Research Associate at NHM (2007-2008).
  • Heiko Muth - Diplom Biology at Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany (2005-2006).
  • Adriana Navarro-Gomez - laboratory assistant at NHM (2007-2008).
  • Elisabeth Otto- Diplom Biology at Georg-August University Goettingen, Germany (2006-2007).
  • Niels Pedersen- Postdoctoral Research Associate at NHM (2007).
  • Li Wang- PhD student at GUCAS, IBCAS, NHM (2008-2011) co-supervised by Xianchun Zhang (IBCAS, China):
  • Wita Wardani - Master Student at University of Reading UK (2010) co-supervised by Alastair Culham (Reading): Now Curator at Herbarium Bogor, Indonesia.
  • Ran Wei- PhD student at GUCAS, IBCAS,(2011-2014) co-supervised by Xianchun Zhang (IBCAS, China):
  • Jeannine Weix- Diplom Bioinformatics at University of Bingen (2005-2006)
  • Ying Yu- PhD student at East China Normal University, Shanghai & NHM (2010-2013) co-supervised by Rui-Liang Zhu (Shanghai):

Collaborating Labs/ Researchers (Current Projects)


Full list at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Harald_Schneider2


 Selected Publications

Clark J, Hidalgo O, Pellicer J, Liu HM, Marquardt J, Robert Y, Christenhusz M, Zhang SZ, Gibby M, Leitch IJ, Schneider H (2015) Genome evolution of ferns: evidence for relative stasis of genome size across the fern phylogeny. New Phytologist.

Schneider H, Liu HM, Clark J, Hidalgo O, Pellicer J, Zhang SZ, Kelley L, Fay MF, Leitch IJ (2015) Are the genomes of royal ferns really frozen in time? –evidence for coinciding genome stability and limited evolvability in the royal ferns. New Phytologist 207: 10-13. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.13330/full

Schneider H, Schmidt AR, Nascimbene P, Heinrichs J (2015) Generic stasis in the epiphytic fern diversity of the West Indies: evidence from Dominican amber. Organisms, Development and Evolution 15: 277-283.http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13127-015-0200-3

Bystriakova N, Ansell SW, Russell SJ, Grundmann M, Vogel JC, Schneider H 2014 Present, past and future of the European rock-fern Asplenium fontanum: reconciling distribution modeling and population genetics to study the effect of climate change on geographical rance and genetic diversity. Annals of Botany 113: 453-465. http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/113/3/453.full?sid=be92e5e1-e13f-44aa-96d1-501cddc340ff

Feldberg K, Schneider H, Stadler T, Schaefer-Verwimp A, Schmidt AR, Heinrichs J (2014) Epiphytic leafy liverworts diversified in angiosperm-dominated forests. Scientific Reports 4: 5974. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep05974

Laenen B, Shaw B, Schneider H, Goffinet B, Paradis E, Desamore A, Heinrichs J, Villarreal JC, Gradstein R, S McDaniel, D Long, L Forrest, M Hollingsworth, B Crandall-Storler, EC Davis, J Engel, M von Konrat, ED Cooper, J Patino, A Vanderpoorten, AJ Shaw (2014) Burst in diversification in ancient land plants. Nature Communications 5: 6134. http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141027/ncomms6134/full/ncomms6134.html

Chang Y-F, Li J, Lu SG, Schneider H (2013) Species diversify and reticulate evolution in the Asplenium normale complex (Aspleniaceae) in China and adjacent areas. Taxon 62: 673-687. http://chineseotes/library.ingentaconnect.com/content/iapt/tax/2013/00000062/00000004/art00001

Dyer RJ, Pellicer J, Savolainen V, Leitch IJ, Schneider H (2013) Genome size expansion and the relationship between nuclear DNA content and spore size in the Asplenium monanthes fern complex (Aspleniaceae). BMC Plant Biology 13: 219. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2229/13/219

Liu HM, Jiang R-H, Guo J, Shepherd L, Hennequin S, Hovenkamp P, Perrie LR, Schneider H (2013) Towards a phylogenetic classification of the climbing fern genus Arthropteris. Taxon 62: 688-700. http://chineseotes/library.ingentaconnect.com/content/iapt/tax/2013/00000062/00000004/art00002

Schneider H(2013)  Evolutionary morphology of ferns. In: The evolution of plant form (Ambrose B, Prugunan M, eds.). Annual Plant Reviews 45: 115-140. http://as.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1444330012.html

Kenrick P, Wellman C, Schneider H, Edgecombe G (2012) A timeline for terrestrialisation –consequences for the Carbon cycle in the Paleozoic. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B 367: 519-536. http://resb.royalsocietypublishing.org/cpntent/367/1588/519Schmidt AR, Perrichot V, Svotjtka M, Anderson KB, Kebede Hailu Belete, Doerfelt H, Jancke S, Mohr B, Mohrmann E, Nascimbeme PC, Nel A, Nel P, Pagazzi E, Roghi G, Saupe EE, Schmidt K, Schneider H, Selden PA, Vavra N (2010) Cretaceous African life captured in amber. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, USA 107: 7329-7334. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/16/7329.full?sid=95b4fe75-8b7a-4cc1=aeec=a729d3e276ebCBOL Working Group: Hollingsoworth PM, Forrest LL, Spouge JL, Hajibabaei M, Ratnasingham S, van der Bank M, Chase MW, Cowan RS, Erickson DL, Fazekas AJ, Graham SW, James KE, Kim K-J, Kress WJ, Schneider H, van AlphenStahl J, Barrett SCH, van den Berg C, Bogarin D, Burgess KS, Cameron KM, Carine M, Chacon J, Clark A, Clarkson JJ, Conrad F, Devey DS, Ford CS, Hederson TAH, Hollingsworth ML, Husband BC, Kelley LJ, Kesanakurti PR, Kim J-S, Kim Y-D, Lahaye R, Lee H-L, Long DG, Madrinan S, Maurin O, Meusnier I, Newmaser SG, Park C-W, Percy DM, Petersen G, Richardson JE, Salazar GA, Savolainen V, Seberg O, Wilkinson MJ, Yu D-K, Little DP (2009) A DNA barcode for land plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 106: 12794-12797. http://www.pnas.org/content/106/31/12794.full?sid+38cee406-d425-4f58-8edc-bbcb2ac34bad

Schneider H, Schuettpelz E, Pryer KM, Cranfill R, Magallón S, Lupia R (2004). Ferns diversified in the shadow of angiosperms. Nature 428: 553-557. http://www.nature.com/nature/jounral.v428/n6982/abs/nature02361.html

Pryer KM, Schneider H, Smith AR, Cranfill R, Wolf PG, Hunt JS, Sipes SD (2001) Horsetails and ferns are a monophyletic group and the closest living relatives to seed plants. Nature 409: 618-621. http://www.nature.com/nature/jounral.v409/n6820/abs/409618a0.html