COVID-19 Advice for the JCU Community - Last updated: 5 May 2022, 3pm (AEST)

Dr. Katharina Nargar

Portrait of Dr Katharina Nargar

Research Scientist, Australian Tropical Herbarium & National Research Collections Australia (CSIRO)

PhD, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main / Research Institute Senckenberg, Germany

Diploma in Biology (equiv. British Masters degree), Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Germany


E2.202L, Sir Robert Norman Building (E2), James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns QLD 4870


+61 (0)7 4232 1686



I am a molecular systematist and evolutionary biologist with a research focus on tropical plant biodiversity. My research interests lie in understanding the diversification of species-rich tropical plant groups in time and space, and the underlying factors that shaped today’s diversity. I am using molecular tools such as high throughput DNA sequencing to reconstruct evolutionary relationships and historical biogeography, investigate differences in speciation and extinction rates between lineages and examine correlations with other factors, such as past climatic change, the development of putative key innovations or other significant morphological/physiological traits.

Since 2010 I have worked at the Australian Tropical Herbarium where I lead the orchid research program. My current research employs genomic approaches to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and the spatio-temporal evolution of Australia’s major orchid lineages, in particular the highly diverse orchid tribe Diurideae (e.g. leek orchids, sun orchids, beard orchids), the subtribe Pterostylidinae (greenhood orchids), and the two epiphytic plant mega genera Dendrobium and Bulbophyllum. A greater understanding of these orchid groups is key for the establishment of a more stable and widely accepted taxonomic classification for Australasian orchids. My conservation genomic research examines taxonomic delimitation and genomic diversity in species complexes, in particular of threatened Australian orchid species.

Photos of diverse bromeliads and orchids

Selected Publications


Nauheimer L, Weigner N, Joyce E, Crayn D, Clarke C, Nargar K (2020): HybPhaser: a workflow for the detection and phasing of hybrids in target capture datasets. BioRxiv.

Pérez-Escobar OA, Dodsworth S, Bogarín D, Bellot S, Balbuena JA, Schley R, Kikuchi I, Morris SK, Epitawalage N, Cowan R, Maurin O, Zuntini A, Arias T, Serna A, Gravendeel B, Torres MF, Nargar K, Chomicki G, Chase MW, Leitch IJ, Forest F, Baker WJ. (2020): Hundreds of nuclear and plastid loci yield insights into orchid relationships. BioRxiv.


Godfree R.C, Knerr N, Eninas-Viso F, Albrecht D, Bush D, Cargill DC, Clements M, Gueidan C, Guya LK, Harwood T, Joseph L, Lepschi B, Nargar K, Schmidt-Lebuhn A, Broadhurst LM (2021): Implications of the 2019-2020 megafires for the biogeography and conservation of Australian vegetation. Nature Communications 12: 1023.

Wagner ND, Clements MA,Simpson L, Nargar K (2021): Conservation in the face of hybridisation: genome-wide study to evaluate taxonomic delimitation and conservation status of a threatened orchid species. Conservation Genetics 22(1): 151-168.

Chen J-T, Nargar K (2020) Editorial: Orchid genomics and developmental biology. Frontiers in Plant Science 11, 1013.

Nauheimer, L, Cui L, Clarke C, Crayn DM, Bourke G, Nargar K (2019): Genome skimming provides well resolved plastid and nuclear phylogenies, showing patterns of deep reticulation in the tropical carnivorous plant genus Nepenthes (Caryophyllales). Australian Systematic Botany 32: 243-254.

Nargar K, Molina S, Wagner N, Nauheimer L, Micheneau C, Clements MA (2018): Australasian orchid diversification in time and space: Molecular phylogenetic insights from the beard orchids (Calochilus, Diurideae).Australian Systematic Botany 31: 389-408.

Nauheimer L, Schley RJ, Clements MA, Micheneau C, Nargar K (2018): Australasian orchid biogeography at continental scale: molecular phylogenetic insights from the sun orchids (Thelymitra, Orchidaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127: 304-319.

Simpson L, Clements MA, Crayn DM, Nargar K (2018): Evolution in Australia’s mesic biome under past and future climates: insights from a phylogentic study of the Australian rock orchids (Dendrobium speciosum complex, Orchidaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 118: 32-46. https://10.1016/j.ympev.2017.09.004

Cruz GSA, Zizka G, Silvestro D, Leme EM, Schulte K, Benko-Iseppon, AM (2017): Molecular phylogeny, character evolution and historical biogeography of Cryptanthus Otto & A. Dietr. (Bromeliaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107: 152-165.

Goetze, M, Schulte K, Palma-Silva C, Zanella CM, Büttow MV; Capra F (2016): Diversification of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae) in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest: a case study in Aechmea subgenus Ortgiesia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 98: 346-357.

Crayn DM,Winter K, Schulte K, Smith AC (2015): Photosynthetic pathways in Bromeliaceae: phylogenetic and ecological significance of CAM and C3 based on carbon-isotope ratios for 1893 species. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 178: 169-221.

Heller S, Leme EM, Schulte K, Benko-Issepon AM, Zizka G (2015): Elucidating phylogenetic relationships in the Aechmea alliance: AFLP analysis of Portea and the Gravisia complex (Bromeliaceae, Bromelioideae). Systematic Botany 40: 716-725.

Gitai J, Paule J, Zizka G, Schulte K, Benko-Iseppon, AM (2014): Chromosome numbers and DNA content in Bromeliaceae: additional data and critical review. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 176: 349-368.

Givnish TJ,Barfuss MHJ, Van Ee B, Riina R, Schulte K, Horres R, Gonsiska PA, Jabaily RS, Crayn DM, Smith JAC, Winter K, Brown GK, Evans TM, Holst BK, Luther H, Till W, Zizka, G, Berry PE, Sytsma KJ (2014): Adaptive radiation, correlated and contingent evolution, and net species diversification in Bromeliaceae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71: 55-78.

Louzada RB, Schulte K, Wanderley MGL, Silvestro D, Zizka G, Barfuss MHJ, Palma-Silva C (2014): Molecular phylogeny of the Brazilian endemic genus Orthophytum (Bromelioideae, Bromeliaceae) and its implications on morphological character evolution. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 77: 54–64.

Silvestro D, Zizka G, Schulte K (2014): Disentangling the effects of key innovations on the diversification of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae). Evolution 68: 163-175.

Gonzáles Cáceres DA, Schulte K, Schmidt M, Zizka G (2013): Diversity and levels of endemism of the Bromeliaceae of Costa Rica – an updated checklist. Phytokeys 29: 17-62.

Jersáková J, Trávníček P, Kubátová B, Krejčíková J, Urfus T, Liu Z-J, Lamb A, Ponert J, Schulte K,Čurn V, Vrána J, Hřibová E, Doležel J, Leitch IJ, Suda J (2013): Genome size variation in the subfamily Apostasioideae: filling the phylogenetic gap in orchids. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 172: 95-105.

Wagner N, Silvestro D, Brie D, Ibisch P, Zizka G, Weising K, Schulte K (2013): Spatiotemporal evolution of Fosterella (Bromeliaceae) in the Central Andean biodiversity hotspot. Journal of Biogeography 40(5): 869-880.

Zizka G, Schneider JV, Schulte K, Novoa P (2013): Taxonomic revision of the Chilean Puya species (Puyoideae, Bromeliaceae), with special notes on the Puya alpestris-Puya berteroniana species complex. Brittonia 65: 387-407.

Karan M, Evans DS, Reilly D, Schulte K, Wright C, Innes D, Holton TA, Nikles DG, Dickinson GR (2012): Rapid microsatellite marker development for African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis, Meliaceae) using next-generation sequencing and assessment of its intra-specific genetic diversity. Molecular Ecology Resources 12: 344-353.

Gonzáles Cáceres DA, Schulte K, Schmidt M, Zizka G (2011): A synopsis of the Bromeliaceae of Panama, including new records for the country. Willdenowia 41: 357-369.

Schneider JV, Schulte K, Aguilar JF, Huertas ML (2011): Molecular evidence for hybridization and introgression in the neotropical coastal desert-endemic Palaua (Malveae, Malvaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 60: 373-384.

Givnish TJ,Barfuss MHJ, Van Ee B, Riina R, Schulte K, Horres R, Gonsiska PA, Jabaily RS, Crayn DM, Smith JAC, Winter K, Brown GK, Evans TM, Holst BK, Luther H, Till W, Zizka G, Berry PE, Sytsma KJ (2011): Phylogeny, adaptive radiation, and historical biogeography in Bromeliaceae: insights from an eight-locus plastid phylogeny. American Journal of Botany 98: 872-895.

Schulte K, Silvestro D, Kiehlmann E, Vesely S, Novoa P, Zizka G (2010): Detection of recent hybridization between sympatric Chilean Puya species (Bromeliaceae) using AFLP markers and reconstruction of complex relationships. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 1105-1119.

Rex M, Schulte K, Zizka G, Peters J, Ibisch PL, Weising K (2009): Phylogenetic analysis of Fosterella L.B. Sm. (Pitcairnoideae, Bromeliaceae) based on four chloroplast DNA regions. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51: 472-485.

Schulte K, Barfuss MHJ, Zizka G (2009):Molecular phylogeny of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae) based on nuclear and plastid DNA loci reveals the evolution of the tank habit within the subfamily. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51: 327-339.

Zizka G, Schmidt M, Schulte K, Novoa P, Pinto R, König K (2009): Chilean Bromeliaceae - diversity, distribution and evaluation of conservation status. Biodiversity and Conservation 18: 2449-2471.

Schulte K, Zizka G (2008): Multi locus plastid phylogeny of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae): new insights into the taxonomic utility of petal appendages and pollen characters. Candollea 63(2): 209-225.

Horres R, Schulte K, Weising K, Zizka G (2007): Systematics of Bromelioideae (Bromeliaceae) – molecular and anatomical studies. Aliso 23: 171-187.

Rex, M., Patzolt, K., Schulte, K., Zizka, G., Vásquez, R., Ibisch, P.L., Weising, K. (2007): AFLP Analysis of genetic relationships in the genus Fosterella L.B. Smith (Pitcairnioideae, Bromeliaceae). Genome 50 (1): 90-105.

Schulte K, Horres, R, Zizka G (2005): Molecular phylogeny of Bromelioideae and its implications on biogeography and the evolution of CAM in the family (Poales, Bromeliaceae). Senckenbergia Biologica 85 (1): 113-125.

e-learning courses

Here you can find links to our e-learning courses in molecular phylogenetics and scientific drawing (in German language).

Schulte, K., Naduvilezhath, L., Nierbauer, K. U., Silvestro, D., Michalak, I., Metzler, D., Zizka, G., Printzen, C. (2012): E-volution, der E-Learning Kurs zur phylogenetischen Analyse. [E-volution, the e-learning course for phylogenetic analysis]. Online e-learning course, β version. Goethe University Frankfurt, M:

Chapter 1. Willkommen bei E-volution

Chapter 2. Erste Runde: Stammbaumkunde

Chapter 4. Distanzanalysen - schnell und einfach

Chapter 6. Parsimonie I: eine Einführung

Chapter 7. Parsimonie II: Bäume

Chapter 8. Parsimonie III: Vollständige Suchverfahren

Chapter 9. Parsimonie IV: Heuristische Suchverfahren

Chapter 10. Parsimonie in der Praxis I

Chapter 11. Parsimonie in der Praxis II

Chapter 12. Dangerzone: Von tiefen Tälern und falschen Schwestern

Chapter 13. Likelihood und mathematische Modelle – eine Einführung

Chapter 14. Substitutionsmodelle

Brunken, U., Schulte, K., Zizka, G. (2009): Wissenschaftliches Zeichnen - eine Einführung für Studierende der Biologie [Scientific drawing – an introduction for biology students]. Online e-learning course. Goethe University Frankfurt, M.