School of
Integrative Biology
Stephen R. Downie

2070 Lincoln Hall
Office: (217) 333-1350

Mail: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
2090 Lincoln Hall
702 S Wright St
Urbana, IL 61801-3631
Lab Page
Curriculum Vita

Stephen R. Downie
Associate Dean for Curricula and Academic Policy, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Professor, Department of Plant Biology
Curator, University of Illinois Vascular Plant Herbarium


B.Sc., 1982, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Ph.D., 1988, University of Alberta, Canada
Postdoctoral positions: University of Michigan and Indiana University

Teaching Interests

Effective pedagogy
General education
Plant systematics
Undergraduate education
Online bachelor of liberal studies completion program

Systematics and evolution of flowering plants, with emphasis on the family Apiaceae

The relationships among and within many families of flowering plants remain unclear. Reconstruction of phylogenies from molecular data is now routine in systematics and continues to provide valuable insight into evolutionary patterns and processes, and historical biogeography. We are using the record of molecular change contained within the chloroplast and nuclear genomes of plants, as well as morphological and fruit anatomical evidence, to trace evolutionary histories and elucidate patterns of phenotypic character evolution in the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae, the carrot, celery or parsley family), a cosmopolitan group of ecological, economical, and pharmaceutical importance. Current research is focused on the perennial, endemic umbellifers of western North America, such as Cymopterus and Lomatium, with the goals of clarifying generic- and species-level boundaries, reconstructing a robust phylogeny, and producing a modern classification. Ongoing research on the phylogeny and biogeography of Apiaceae, using techniques ranging from herbarium-based studies to phylogenomic analyses, is international in scope, with extensive collaborations the world over.

ResearchGate Profile

Representative Publications

Yang, C., X.-Y. Yao, Z.-X. Chen, S. R. Downie and Q.-Z. Wang. 2022. The chloroplast genomes of Sanicula (Apiaceae): plastome structure, comparative analyses, and phylogenetic relationships. Nordic Journal of Botany, in press.

Clarkson, J. J., A. R. Zuntini, O. Maurin, S. R. Downie, G. M. Plunkett, A. A. Nicolas, J. F. Smith, M. A. E. Feist, K. Gutierrez, P. Malakasi, P. Bailey, G. E. Brewer, N. Epitawalage, S. Zmarzty, F. Forest, and W. J. Baker. 2021. A higher-level nuclear phylogenomic study of the carrot family (Apiaceae). American Journal of Botany 108(7): 1252-1269.

Ottenlips, M. V., D. H. Mansfield, S. Buerki, M. A. E. Feist, S. R. Downie, S. Dodsworth, F. Forest, G. M. Plunkett, and J. F. Smith. 2021. Resolving species boundaries in a recent radiation with the Angiosperms353 probe set: the Lomatium packardiae/L. anomalum clade of the L. triternatum (Apiaceae) complex. American Journal of Botany 108(7): 1217-1233.

Mousavi, S., V. Mozaffarian, K. Mummenhoff, S. R. Downie, and S. Zarre. 2021. An updated lineage-based tribal classification of Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae with special focus on the Iranian genera. Systematics and Biodiversity 19(1): 89-109.

Liao, C.-Y., Q. Giao, D. S. Katz-Downie, and S. R. Downie. 2021. A systematic study of North American Angelica species (Apiaceae) based on nrDNA ITS and cpDNA sequences and fruit morphology. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, in press.

Zhou, J., Y.-Z. Gao, J. Wei, Z.-W. Liu, and S. R. Downie. 2020. Molecular phylogenetics of Ligusticum (Apiaceae) based on nrDNA ITS sequences: rampant polyphyly, placement of the Chinese endemic species, and a much-reduced circumscription of the genus. International Journal of Plant Sciences 181: 306-323.

Spalik, K., A. Wojewódzka, T. Constantinidis, S. R. Downie, M. Gierek, and L. Banasiak. 2019. Laserocarpum, a new genus of Apiaceae endemic to Greece. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 88(3): 3635.

Mustafina, F. U., D.-K. Yi, K. Choi, C. H. Shin, K. S. Tojibaev, and S. R. Downie. 2019. A comparative analysis of complete plastid genomes from Prangos fedtschenkoi and P. lipskyi (Apiaceae). Ecology and Evolution 9: 364-377.

Wojewódzka, A., J. Baczyński, L. Banasiak, S. R. Downie, A. Czarnocka-Cieciura, M. Gierek, I. Frankiewicz, and K. Spalik. 2019. Evolutionary shifts in fruit dispersal syndromes in Apiaceae tribe Scandiceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution 305: 401-414.

Wang, Q. Z., S. R. Downie, and Z. X. Chen. 2018. Genome-wide searches and molecular analyses highlight the unique evolutionary path of flavone synthase I (FNS1) in Apiaceae. Genome 61: 103-109.

Smith, J. F., D. H. Mansfield, M. Stevens, E. Sosa, M. A. E. Feist, S. R. Downie, G. M. Plunkett, and M. Darrach. 2018. Try tri again?: Resolving species boundaries in the Lomatium triternatum (Apiaceae) complex. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 56: 218-230.

Danderson, C. A., S. R. Downie, and M. Hermann. 2018. Rampant polyphyly in the Arracacia clade (Apiaceae) and an assessment of the phylogenetic utility of 20 noncoding plastid loci. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 118: 286-305.

Mansfield, D. H., M. Darrach, S. R. Downie, M. A. E. Feist, R. L. Hartman, K. M. Mason, G. M. Plunkett, and J. F. Smith. 2017. New combinations in Pseudocymopterus and Cymopterus (Apiaceae). Phytoneuron 57: 1-4.

Feist, M. A. E., J. F. Smith, D. H. Mansfield, M. Darrach, R. P. McNeill, S. R. Downie, G. M. Plunkett, and B. L. Wilson. 2017. New combinations in Lomatium (Apiaceae, subfamily Apioideae). Phytotaxa 316: 95-98.

Liu, M. and S. R. Downie. 2017. The phylogenetic significance of fruit anatomical and micromorphological structures in Chinese Heracleum species and related taxa (Apiaceae). Systematic Botany 42: 313-325.

Menemen, Y., A. Kandemir, and S. R. Downie. 2016. Pastinaca erzincanensis (Apiaceae), a new species from eastern Turkey and its phylogenetic position within Tordylieae. Annales Botanici Fennici 53: 373-382.

Downie, S. R., R. M. Peery, and R. K. Jansen. 2016. Another first for the Apiaceae: Evidence for mitochondrial DNA transfer into the plastid genome. Proceedings of the VIII International Apiales Symposium, Istanbul. Journal of the Faculty of Pharmacy of Istanbul University 44: 131-144.

Zakharova, E. A., E. V. Kljuykov, G. V. Degtjareva, T. H. Samigullin, U. A. Ukrainskaya, and S. R. Downie. 2016. A taxonomic study of the genus Hellenocarum H. Wolff (Umbelliferae - Apioideae) based on morphology, fruit anatomy, and molecular data. Turkish Journal of Botany 40: 176-193.

Calviño, C. I., F. E. Teruel, and S. R. Downie. 2016. The role of the Southern Hemisphere in the evolutionary history of Apiaceae, a mostly north temperate plant family. Journal of Biogeography 43: 398-409.

Jogesh, T., R. Peery, S. R. Downie, and M. R. Berenbaum. 2015. Patterns of genetic diversity in the globally invasive species wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). Invasive Plant Science and Management 8: 415-429.

Downie, S. R. and R. K. Jansen. 2015. A comparative analysis of whole plastid genomes from the Apiales: expansions and contraction of the inverted repeat, mitochondrial to plastid transfer of DNA, and identification of highly divergent noncoding regions. Systematic Botany 40: 336-351.

Liu, J., L. Shi, J. Han, G. Li, H. Lu, J. Hou, X. Zhou, F. Meng, and S. R. Downie. 2014. Identification of species in the angiosperm family Apiaceae using DNA barcodes. Molecular Ecology Resources 14: 1231-1238.

Wang, Z.-X., S. R. Downie, J.-B. Tan, C.-Y. Liao, Y. Yu, and X.-J. He. 2014. Molecular phylogenetics of Pimpinella and allied genera (Apiaceae), with emphasis on Chinese native species, inferred from nrDNA ITS and cpDNA intron sequence data. Nordic Journal of Botany 32: 642-657.

George, E. E., D. H. Mansfield, J. F. Smith, R. L. Hartman, S. R. Downie, and C. E. Hinchliff. 2014. Phylogenetic analysis reveals multiple cases of morphological parallelism and taxonomic polyphyly in Lomatium (Apiaceae). Systematic Botany 39: 662-675.

Spalik, K., Banasiak, M. A. E. Feist, and S. R. Downie. 2014. Recurrent short-distance dispersal explains wide distributions of hydrophytic umbellifers (Apiaceae tribe Oenantheae). Journal of Biogeography 41: 1559-1571.

Liao, C.-Y., S. R. Downie, Q. Li, Y. Yu, X.-J. He, and B. Zhou. 2013. New insights into the phylogeny of Angelica and its allies (Apiaceae) with emphasis on East Asian species, inferred from nrDNA, cpDNA, and morphological evidence. Systematic Botany 38: 266-281.

Banasiak, L., M. Piwczynski, T. Ulinski, S. R. Downie, M. F. Watson, B. Shakya, and K. Spalik. 2013. Dispersal patterns in space and time: a case study of Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae. Journal of Biogeography 40: 1324-1335.

Ming, R., R. VanBuren, Y. Liu, M. Yang, Y. Han, L.-T. Li, Q. Zhang, M.-J. Kim, M. C. Schatz, M. Campbell, J. Li, J. E. Bowers, H. Tang, E. Lyons, A. A. Ferguson, G. Narzisi, D. R. Nelson, C. E. Blaby-Haas, A. R. Gschwend, Y. Jiao, J. P. Der, F. Zeng, J. Han, X. J. Min, K. A. Hudson, R. Singh, A. K. Grennan, S. J. Karpowicz, J. R. Watling, K. Ito, S. A. Robinson, M. E. Hudson, Q. Yu, T. C. Mockler, A. Carroll, Y. Zheng, R. Sunkar, R. Jia, N. Chen, J. Arro, C. M. Wai, E. Wafula, A. Spence, Y. Han, L. Xu, J. Zhang, R. Peery, M. J. Haus, W. Xiong, J. A. Walsh, J. Wu, M.-L. Wang, Y. J. Zhu, R. E. Paull, A. B. Britt, C. Du, S. R. Downie, M. A. Schuler, T. P. Michael, S. P. Long, D. R. Ort, J. W. Schopf, D. R. Gang, N. Jiang, M. Yandell, C. W. dePamphilis, S. S. Merchant, A. H. Paterson, B. B. Buchanan, S. Li, and J. Shen-Miller. 2013. Genome of the long-living sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.). Genome Biology 14:R41.

Brullo, C., S. Brullo, S. R. Downie, C. A. Danderson, and G. G. del Galdo. 2013. Siculosciadium, a new monotypic genus of Apiaceae from Sicily. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 99: 1-18.

Feist, M. A. E, S. R. Downie, A. R. Magee, and M. Liu. 2012. Revised generic delimitations for Oxypolis and Ptilimnium (Apiaceae) based on leaf morphology, comparative fruit anatomy, and phylogenetic analysis of nuclear rDNA ITS and cpDNA trnQ-trnK intergenic spacer sequence data. Taxon 61(2): 402-418.

Yu, Y., S. R. Downie, X. He, X. Deng, and L. Yan. 2011. Phylogeny and biogeography of Chinese Heracleum (Apiaceae tribe Tordylieae) with comments on their fruit morphology. Plant Systematics and Evolution 296: 179-203.

Magee, A. R., B.-E. van Wyk, P. M. Tilney, and S. R. Downie. 2010. Phylogenetic position of African and Malagasy Pimpinella species and related genera (Apiaceae, Pimpinelleae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 288: 201-211.

Sun, F.-J. and S. R. Downie. 2010. Phylogenetic analyses of morphological and molecular data reveal major clades within the perennial, endemic western North American Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 137: 133-156.

Spalik, K., M. Piwczyński, C. A. Danderson, R. Kurzyna-Młynik, T. S. Bone, and S. R. Downie. 2010. Amphitropic amphiantarctic disjunctions in Apiaceae subfamily Apioideae. Journal of Biogeography 37: 1977-1994.

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Complete Publications List