Maria Vorontsova at LE, Sep 2013

Curriculum Vitae

Grass Taxonomist
Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Surrey TW9 3AE
United Kingdom


I am interested in the amazing diversity of flowering plants, their evolutionary history and classification. My special areas of interest include the families Poaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Solanaceae, as well as nomenclature, bibliography, and web-based bioinformatics.

My current research projects include the systematics and evolution of grasses in Madagascar, and the evolutionary history of the West African forest grasses Puelia and Guaduella. I develop and curate GrassBase, the largest standardised descriptive dataset of any plant group with ca. 11,000 species descriptions and 60,000 taxon names. I manage the Grass Section at the RBG Kew herbarium, supervise curation, staff, visitors, and volunteers, and carry out naming of incoming material. I teach courses on grass evolution and identification to MSc students at the University of Reading and the University of Kent, and to Diploma in Horticulture students.


Maître de Conférences 2010
Section 67 Biologie des populations et écologie: Maître de conférences
Section 68 Biologie des organismes: Maître de conférences, Maître de conférences du Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérier et de la Recherche, France

Doctoral program 2003-2008
Thesis “Evolution of tribe Poranthereae (Phyllanthaceae or Euphorbiaceae sensu lato)”
Supervisory committee: Dr Petra Hoffmann and Professor Mark Chase
Open University sponsored by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: PhD degree awarded October 2008.
Molecular phylogenetic analysis, herbarium based revisionary taxonomy, work in China and Vietnam, work at BM, E, HN, HNU, IBSC, GXMI, K, L, LE, U, W, WAG, W, WU herbaria.

MA Natural Sciences Tripos 2003
Plant Sciences
King’s College, University of Cambridge

BA Natural Sciences Tripos 1997-2000
Plant Sciences
King’s College, University of Cambridge
Upper Second Class Degree

EMPLOYMENT __________________________________________________________________

Natural History Museum, London
Old World Solanum Taxonomy Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Taxonomic revision of ca. 150 species with challenging taxonomic history and unclear delimitation; phylogenetic reconstruction of the Solanum Old World Clade; Solanaceae Source BRAHMS database development, nomenclature standardisation in collaboration with the International Plant Names Index (IPNI); supervision of project members and volunteers; developing collaborative links with the University of Dar es Salaam, the East African Herbarium, and the Millennium Seed Bank; work at BM, BR, EA, GUAT, K, L, LE, LISC, MPU, P, SLC, UVAL, USCG, and WAG herbaria, application for small grants, financial management of contracts and field expeditions. Funded by NSF Planetary Biodiversity Inventory programme (NSF DEB-0316614).

John Innes Centre
Wheat Cytogenetics Research Assistant
Molecular Laboratory techniques including PCR, cloning, chromosome squashes, immunocytology, Confocal microscopy and 3D image processing


Best Talk Prize at the Young Systematists Forum, Natural History Museum, 2005
Powell Prize for Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 1999
King's College Scholar, University of Cambridge, 1998
King's College Scholar, University of Cambridge, 1999
Drapers Guild Full Sixth Form Scholarship to Bancroft School, 1995-1997
IMechE award for 150 highest GCSE results in the United Kingdom, 1995

GRANTS PERSONALLY HELD______________________________________________________

SynTax, 2012
“Reconstructing Madagascar grassland history using the three-awn grasses”; £25,100

Systematics Research Fund, 2012
“Building specialist knowledge of grasses in Kenya: collecting Three-awn grasses”, £1,500

Bentham-Moxon Trust, 2011
“Grass identification course and promotion of Poaceae research in Madagascar”, £1,600

National Geographic Society Global Exploration Fund – Northern Europe, 2011
“Mad Grasses of Madagascar"; $7,939

Natural History Museum, Special Funds Award, 2009
“Identification and digital data capture of Solanum specimens at the herbaria of the V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute and the N.I.Vavilov Institute, St Petersburg, Russia”

Natural History Museum Molecular Biology Laboratories (MBL) Award, 2009
Molecular Biology Projects for Researchers without Molecular Biology core funding:
“What is the evolutionary history of African spiny Solanum, how should we classify it? How do the three new species fit into the phylogenetic tree of Solanum?”

SYNTHESYS (European Union), 2006. NL-TAF. 10 days at the Leiden, Utrecht and Wageningen herbaria.
Herbarium work on collections of Andrachne, Leptopus, Meineckia, Poranthera, Zimmermannia, Zimmanniopsis (Phyllanthaceae).

SYNTHESYS (European Union), 2005. AT-TAF. 15 days at the Vienna herbaria of W and WU.
Databasing historic collections of Andrachne (Phyllanthaceae) and laboratory work with Rose Samuels’ group at the University of Vienna.

PEER REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS___________________________________________________

Vorontsova, M.S., S. E. Rakotoarisoa. Endemic genera of grasses (Poaceae, bozaka) in Madagascar: review of current knowledge. In prep.

Vorontsova MS, S Knapp. A revision of the spiny solanums, Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum (Solanaceae) in Africa and Madagascar. Systematic Botany Monographs, in press.

Vorontsova, M.S. Phyllanthopsis. In: Flora of North America. In press, accepted September 2007.

Besnard, G., Christin, P. A., Malé, P. J. G., Coissac, E., Ralimanana, H., & Vorontsova, M. S. (2013). Phylogenomics and taxonomy of Lecomtelleae (Poaceae), an isolated panicoid lineage from Madagascar. Annals of Botany 112: 1057–1066.

Knapp, S., & Vorontsova, M. (2013). From introduced American weed to Cape Verde Islands endemic: the case of Solanum rigidum Lam.(Solanaceae, Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum). PhytoKeys, 25, 35-46.

Vorontsova, M.S., S. Stern, L. Bohs & S. Knapp. 2013. African spiny Solanum (subgenus Leptostemonum, Solanaceae): a thorny phylogenetic tangle. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 173: 176-193. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/boj.12053

Vorontsova, M.S., G. Ratovonirina & T. Randriamboavonjy. Revision of Andropogon and Diectomis (Poaceae: Sacchareae) in Madagascar and the new Andropogon itremoensis from the Itremo Massif. Kew Bulletin 68: 1-15.

Vorontsova, M.S. 2013. Variable morphology of the Madagascar endemic Aristida tenuissima (Poaceae: Aristidoideae) and the absence of Stipa (Poaceae: Pooideae, Stipeae) from Madagascar. Phytotaxa 92: 55-58.

Knapp, S., Vorontsova, M.S., & Prohens, J. (2013). Wild Relatives of the Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.: Solanaceae): New Understanding of Species Names in a Complex Group. PloS one, 8(2), e57039.

Christin PA, Osborne CP, Chatelet DS, Columbus JT, Besnard G, Hodkinson TR, Garrison LM, Vorontsova MS, Edwards EJ. 2013. Anatomical enablers and the evolution of C4 photosynthesis in grasses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110(4): 1381-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1216777110.

Vorontsova, M.S. & B.K.Simon. 2012. Updating classifications to reflect monophyly: 10 to 20 percent of species names change in Poaceae. Taxon 61: 735-746.

Vorontsova, M.S. & S. Knapp. 2012. Solanum sections Oliganthes, Melongena and Monodolichopus. In Edmonds JM, Solanaceae. In: Beentje H, ed. Flora of Tropical East Africa. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, 164–186, 198–215, 220–223.

Vorontsova, M.S. & S. Knapp. 2012. A new species of Solanum (Solanaceae) from South Africa related to the cultivated eggplant. PhytoKeys 8: 1-11

Knapp S, McNeill J, Turland NJ. 2011. Translation into Russian of: "Changes to publication requirements made at the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne – what does e-publication mean for you?" Translated by Irina V. Belyaeva and Maria S. Vorontsova. PhytoKeys 6: 29-37. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.6.2001

Vorontsova, M.S. & A. McNeill. 2011. Kew Record of Taxonomic Literature 1935-2007. Taxon 60: 618–619.

Vorontsova, M.S. & F.M. Mbago. 2010 publ. 2011. New Solanum from Tanzanian coastal forest may already be extinct. Journal of East African Natural History 99: 227-234.

Vorontsova, M.S., Kirika, P. & P. Muthoka. 2010. Overlooked diversity in African Solanum: new and endangered Solanum agnewiorum from Kenya. Phytotaxa 10: 31-37.

Vorontsova, M.S., Christenhusz, M.J.M., Kirika, P. & P. Muthoka. 2010. Three new species of Solanum from Kenya: using herbarium specimens to document environmental change. Systematic Botany 35: 894-906.

Vorontsova, M.S. & S. Knapp. 2010. Lost Berlin (B) types of Solanum (Solanaceae) – found in Göttingen (GOET). Taxon 59: 1585-1601.

Vorontsova, M.S. 2010. Revision of the genus Leptopus. Kew Bulletin 64: 627-645.

Christenhusz, M.J.M., Chase, M.W., Fay, M.F., Lumbsch, T., Monro, A., Vorontsova, M.S. & Zhang, Z.Q. 2009. A new international journal for rapid publication of botanical taxonomy. Phytotaxa 1: 1-2.

Vorontsova, M.S. & Li, Bingtao. 2008. Leptopus (Euphorbiaceae). Flora of China 11: 164-169.

Vorontsova, M. S., & P. Hoffmann. 2008. A phylogenetic classification of tribe Poranthereae (Phyllanthaceae; Euphorbiaceae sensu lato). Kew Bulletin 63: 41-59.

Vorontsova, M. S., Hoffmann, P., Maurin, O. & Chase, M. W. 2007. Molecular phylogenetics of tribe Poranthereae (Phyllanthaceae; Euphorbiaceae sensu lato). American Journal of Botany 94: 2026-2040.

Vorontsova, M. S., P. Hoffmann, H. Kathriarachchi, D. A. Kolterman, and M. W. Chase. 2007. Andrachne cuneifolia (Phyllanthaceae; Euphorbiaceae s.l.) is a Phyllanthus. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 155: 519-525.

Vorontsova, M. S., & P. Hoffmann. 2007. Pistillate flowers of the Tanzanian endemic Paranecepsia. Kew Bulletin 62: 285-286.

Vorontsova, M. S., Shaw, P., Reader, S. & Moore, G. 2004. Effect of 5-azacytidine and trichostatin A on somatic centromere association in wheat. Genome 47: 399-403.

Corbet, S.A., Bee, J., Dashahapatra, K., Gale, S., Gorringe, E., La Ferla, B., Moorhouse, T., Trevail, A., Van Bergen, Y. and Vorontsova, M. S. 2001. Native or exotic? Double or single? Evaluating plants for pollinator-friendly gardens. Annals of Botany 87: 219–232.

POPULAR ARTICLES______________________________________________________________

Vorontsova. M. S. 2011. Big changes for names of algae, fungi, plants and plant fossils:
botanists throw away the printing press and cancel Latin classes. Systematics Association Newsletter 33: 10-12.

Vorontsova. M. S. 2011. Specimens document habitat change. Kew Scientist 39: 3.


Vorontsova. M. S. 2012. Capsicum annuum (Chilli pepper). (http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Capsicum-annuum.htm).

Vorontsova. M. S. 2011. Big changes for names of algae, fungi, plants and plant fossils:
botanists throw away the printing press and cancel Latin classes. RBG Kew Herbarium Blog 7 September 2011. (http://www.kew.org/news/kew-blogs/herbarium/big-changes-for-plant-names.htm)

W.D. Clayton, M.S. Vorontsova, K.T. Harman & H. Williamson. 2011. GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora. (http://www.kew.org/data/grassbase/index.html)

Vorontsova, M.S. 2010. The spiny wild aubergine hunt. 17 March-15 April 2010. Nature Plus interactive field work blog (viewed 703 times at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/blogs/wildspiny).

Vorontsova, M.S. 2010. Solanum phoxocarpum (Osigawai and Sigawet, Masai, Kenya). (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/collections/collec...).

Vorontsova, M.S. 2010. Solanum aculeastrum (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/collections/collec...).

Vorontsova, M.S. 2010. Solanum phoxocarpum (osigawai). (http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Solanum-phoxocarpum.htm).

Vorontsova, M.S. 2010. Solanum ruvu (http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Solanum-ruvu.htm).

Vorontsova, M.S. 2009. Full taxonomic treatments of Solanum aculeastrum, S. adoense, S. aldabrense, S. aethiopicum, S. anguivi, S. dasyphyllum, S. macracanthum, S. macrocarpon, S. marginatum, S. mauense, S. nigriviolaceum, S. thomsonii, S. phoxocarpum, S. piperiferum, S. usambarense. Freely available following peer review as part of the Solanaceae Source website at www.solanaceaesource.org.

Vorontsova, M.S. 2008. Full taxonomic treatments of Solanum arundo, S. burchelii, S. capense, S. catombelense, S. coagulans, S. cordatum, S. cyaneopurpureum, S. cymbalariifolium, S. damarense, S. dennekense, S. glabratum, S. forskalii, S. hastifolium, S. humile, S. inaequiradians, S. lamprocarpum, S. lanzae, S. litoraneum, S. linnaeanum, S. malindense, S. melastomoides, S. monotanthum, S. polhillii, S. rubetorum, S. richardii, S. setaceum, S.sodomaeoides, S. supinum, S. stipitatostellatum, S. taitense, S. tomentosum, S. torreanum, S. zanzibarense. Freely available following peer review as part of the Solanaceae Source website at www.solanaceaesource.org.

Vorontsova, M.S. 2007. Full taxonomic treatments of Solanum batoides, S. betroka, S. bumeliifolium, S. croatii, S. erythracanthum, S. flagelliferum, S. heinianum, S. humblotii, S. imamense, S. ivohibe, S. macrothyrsum, S. mahoriense, S. myoxotrichum, S. myrsinoides, S. nossibense, S. pyracanthon, S. sambiranense, S. toliaraea. Freely available following peer review as part of the Solanaceae Source website at www.solanaceaesource.org.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS_______________________________________

XVIII International Botanical Congress 2011. Melbourne, Australia. 23-30 July 2005.
IBC 2011 Sym100: Molecular Data And The Changing Circumscriptions Of The Genera And Tribes Of Grasses (Poaceae).
“Grassbase and GrassWorld: international data repositories for the evolving classification of grasses.” Oral presentation with Bryan K. Simon, Queensland Herbarium.

Botany & Mycology 2010. Providence, Rhode Island, USA. 31 July – 4 August 2010.
“50 days of field botany in East Africa: the hunt for wild spiny aubergines.” Oral presentation.

SET for BRITAIN Exhibition 2010. The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, Royal Academy of Engineering, the Society of Biology, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Institute of Physics. House of Commons Terrace Marquee, 8 March 2010.
Selected representative.
“The weird Solanum of Madagascar: unusual morphology and untapped genetic resources.” Poster presentation.

EDIT (European Distributed Institute for Taxonomy) General Meeting 2009, Young Taxonomist Symposium. Portugal, Carvoeiro, 15 December 2009.
Selected representative.
“Plants with a bad reputation: classifying African spiny wild aubergines.” Oral presentation.

Systematics 2009. First meeting of Biosyst EU. Seventh Biennial Conference of the Systematics Association. Leiden, Netherlands, 10 - 14 August 2009.
“The African spiny solanums: a thorny taxonomic tangle.” Oral presentation.

Botany & Mycology 2009. Snowbird, Utah, USA. 25 – 29 July 2009.
“The African spiny solanums: a thorny taxonomic tangle.” Oral presentation.

SOL 2008. The 5th Solanaceae Genome Workshop. Cologne, Germany. 12-16 October 2008.
“The weird Solanum of Madagascar: unusual morphology and untapped genetic resources.” Poster presentation.

Fifth Biennial Meeting of the Systematics Association, 2005. National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Cardiff, Wales. 22-26 August.
“Evolution of tribe Poranthereae (Phyllanthacae, Euphorbiaceae sensu lato).” Oral presentation.

XVII International Botanical Congress 2005. Vienna, Austria. 12-16 July 2005.
“Evolution of the Andrachne clade (Phyllanthacae, Euphorbiaceae sensu lato).” Poster presentation.

Young Systematists' Forum 2005. The Natural History Museum, London, UK. 9 December 2005.
“Evolution of the Andrachne clade (Phyllanthacae, Euphorbiaceae sensu lato)”. Oral presentation.

PUBLIC LECTURES AND PRESENTATIONS_____________________________________________

Nature Live public interview at the Natural History Museum
3 February 2012
“Mad grasses of Madagascar”

Nature Live public interview at the Natural History Museum
23 November 2010
“50 days of field botany in East Africa: the hunt for wild spiny aubergines”

Environment Day for 9 to 12-year-olds
26 August 2010
“How scientists study plant diversity”
British Airways Community Learning Centre, Waterside, Harmondsworth

Nature Live public interview at the Natural History Museum
15 January 2010
“Life in the Filed: New Plant Species”
Marked 8, 9 or 10 out of 10 for "enjoyability" and "suitable level of scientific content" on feedback forms from all the ca. 30 attending members of the public.

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP AND APPOINTMENTS_____________________________________  
• Young Systematists’ Forum 2012 organising team
• Young Systematists’ Forum 2011 organising team
• Systematics Association Council 2010 onwards
• Book Reviews Editor of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 2011 onwards
• Editor and founding member of Phytotaxa journal 2009 onwards
• Reviewer for Annals of Botany, Conservation Letters, Kew Bulletin, Phytokeys, Phytotaxa, Plant Genetic Resources, Systematic Botany, Taxon, and Thai Forest Bulletin
• Small grants reviewer for the Linnean Society of London and the Systematics Association
• Elected Fellow of the Linnean Society of London
• Member of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists

FIELD WORK___________________________________________________________________

Madagascar 2012 (2 weeks): Grass Identification Course taught to 12 Malagasy biodiversity specialists from 8 institutions, including four days’ lectures and microscopy work at California Academy of Sciences Centre, Tsimbazaza, Antananarivo, and four days’ field work. Collecting for the Grass Checklist of Itremo. Funded by the Bentham-Moxon trust.

Madagascar 2011 (5 weeks): targeted collection of grasses in the Forest Shade Clade. Collaboration with Russell Hall, Dr Guillaume Besnard, Dr Mijoro Rakotoarinivo, Dr. Rakotonasolo Franck, Ralimanana Hélène, Ranarivelo Tianajanhary. Funded by RBG Kew Systematics Section and University of Sheffield.

Tanzania and Kenya 2010 (8 weeks): expedition leader. Targeted collection of Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum for morphological and molecular studies; provision of plant identification training; re-curation and database management of the Solanum collections at the East African Herbarium. Funded by NSF DEB-0316614 and sponsored by British Airways.

Kenya 2009 (4 weeks): expedition leader. Targeted collection of Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum, general collecting, specimen-based work at the East African Herbarium, National Museums of Kenya. Funded by NSF DEB-0316614 and sponsored by British Airways.

Guatemala 2009 (6 weeks): general collecting; specimen-based work at Herbario Ernesto Carrillo, Universidad de San Carlos; Herbario, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala; Herbario, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. Funded by NSF DEB-0316614.

Vietnam 2006 (6 weeks): general collecting; specimen-based work at the Herbarium of the Vietnam National University, Hanoi; herbarium of the National Center for Natural Sciences and Technology, Hanoi; Herbarium of the Institute of Tropical Biology, Ho Chi Minh City. Supported by the Tobu Foundation.

China 2005 (3 weeks): herbarium work at the South China Botanical Institute in Guangzhou and the Guangxi Institute of Traditional Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Nanning; building collaborative links for Phyllanthaceae research. Supported by the Bentham-Moxon Trust.

Panama 2000 (6 weeks): joint expedition leader. University of Cambridge Expedition to Barro Colorado Island, experimental work on ecology of tropical forest nutrient cycling. Supported by the Leverhume Trust and King’s College Cambridge student travel grant.

South Africa 1999 (6 weeks): University of Cambridge Expedition to the Cape floristic region, research on invasive plant ecology of Hackea and its relationships with Protea. Supported by King’s College Cambridge student travel grant.

Cambridge Botanic Garden 1998 (4 weeks): University of Cambridge research project on pollination ecology of single and double flower cultivars. Supported by Flora and Fauna International (FFI).

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith