A pan-tropical and species diverse family of ecological importance

Higher Level Classification

  • We employ cutting-edge technologies and methods to address the delineation of genera and relationships at the subtribal level across the Gesneriaceae.


    • Relationships and generic limits in Gesneriaceae (M. Möller, K. Nishii, J.L. Clark [Lawrenceville School]) A collaborative research project was initiated in 2017 between the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey, USA) and RBGE. Students are trained annually for five weeks in molecular sequencing techniques at RBGE. The primary goal of this project is to generate data for a phylogeny of the Gesneriaceae that includes taxon sampling represented by all genera in the family. This project was made possible by a gift from Glenn and Debbie Hutchins to the Lawrenceville School.
    • Development of hybrid bait for target capture approaches to address species and higher level relationships in Gesneriaceae (M. Möller, K. Nishii, M. Perret, C. Christe [both Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques])
    • Barcoding Chinese Gesneriaceae using genome skimming (M. Möller, L.M. Gao [Kunming Institute of Botany], Y.G. Wei & F. Wen [Guangxi Institute of Botany and Botanical Garden])

    Key Publications:

    Möller M, YG Wei, F Wen, JL Clark, A Weber (2016). You win some you lose some: updated generic delineations and classification of Gesneriaceae – implications for the family in China. Guihaia 36(1): 44-60.

    Weber A, JL Clark, M Möller (2013). A new formal classification of Gesneriaceae. Selbyana 31(2) 68-94.

    Contact: Michael Möller


    Top image: Allocheilos cortusiflorum W.T.Wang.

    Bottom image: Gasteranthus diverticularis J.L.Clark (John Clark, Lawrenceville).

    White flowers of Allocheilos cortusifolius Orange-red flower of Gasteranthus diverticularis

Southeast Asian Genera

  • Basic taxonomic work is required for most of the Gesneriaceae genera in Southeast Asia including the large genera Cyrtandra and Aeschynanthus which are the current focus of research in this region.


    • Taxonomic revision of Cyrtandra of Sulawesi (H. Atkins, A. Kartonegoro [Bogor])
    • Infrageneric classification of Cyrtandra (H. Atkins, K. Nishii, M. Möller, G. Bramley [RBG Kew], M. Johnson)
    • Japanese Cyrtandra (H. Atkins, K. Nishii, M. Möller, G. Kokubugata)
    • Checklist of Aeschynanthus (H. Atkins, D. Middleton [Singapore Botanic Gardens])

    Contact: Hannah Atkins

    Image: Cyrtandra rantemarioensis Karton. & R.Bone

    The red flowers of Cyrtandra rantemarioensis from Sulawesi

Chinese and Indian Genera

  • Despite the huge steps forward in redefining Old World genera, some Chinese genera require further attention to understand their relationships and circumscription. Oreocharis is an assemblage of species previously belonging to 11 genera and is a particular research focus. Investigating the direction of charater change is of particular interest in the florally diverse Didymocarpus and Oreocharis.


    • Delineation of Raphiocarpus (M. Möller, Y.M. Shui, W.H. Chen [Kunming Institute of Botany])
    • Relationship of Petrocodon and Allocheilos (M. Möller, Y.G. Wei & F. Wen (Guangxi Institute of Botany)
    • Phylogeny and character evolution in Oreocharis (M. Möller, W.H. Chen, Y.M. Shui [Kunming Institue of Botany])
    • Phylogeny and floral evolution in Didymocarpus (with N.S. Prasanna & V. Gowda [IISER], Bhaskar Adhikari, Pranee Nangngam [Naresuan University], D. Middleton [Singapore Botanic Garden])

    Key Publications:
    Möller M, K Nishii, HJ Atkins, HH Kong, M Kang, YG Wei, F Wen, X, Hong, DJ Middleton (2016). An expansion of the genus Deinostigma (Gesneriaceae). Garden’s Bulletin Singapore 68(1)145-172.

    Ranasinghe S, R Milne, R Jayasekara, S Rubasinghe, M Möller (2016). Henckelia wijesundarae (Gesneriaceae), a new endemic species from Sri Lanka and lectotypification of Henckelia walkerae and Chirita walkerae var. parviflora. Willdenovia 46: 213-224.

    Contact: Michael Möller


    Top image: different populations of Corallodiscus lanuginosus (Wall. ex DC.) B.L.Burtt occurring in China.

    Bottom image: different species of Rhynchoglossum Blume occurring in India.

    Five plants of Corallodiscus lanuginosus Different inflorescences of the purple flowered Rhynchoglossum species

Chromosome and Genome Evolution

  • Chromosomes carry the genes that ultimately define the morphology and physiology of plants. Chromosomes can vary in size, haploid and dysploid numbers and their evolution and interplay with plant structures in Gesneriaceae are the foci of this research area.


    • Interplay of phylogeny, chromatin levels, and pollen size in Streptocarpus (M.Möller)
    • Chromosome and genome evolution across the Gesneriaceae (M. Möller, F. Christie, S. Barber)

    Key Publications:
    Möller M (2018). Nuclear DNA C-values are correlated with pollen size at tetraploid but not diploid level and linked to phylogenetic descent in Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae). South African Journal of Botany 114: 323-344.

    Zhou P, L Jie, M Möller (2017). Secondary contact, hybridization and polyploidization add to the biodiversity in the Hengduan Mountains, exemplified by the widespread Corallodiscus lanuginosus (Gesneriaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 303(5): 587-602. DOI 10.1007/s00606-017-1392-0.

    Contact: Michael Möller


    Top images: pollen and chromosome numbers of diploid and tetraploid Corallodiscus lanuginosus (Wall. ex DC.) B.L.Burtt.

    Bottom images: FISH images on Streptocarpus Lindl. metaphase chromosomes.

    Corallodiscus lanuginosus, pollen and chromosomes FISH-image of Streptocarpus