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Heidi M. Meudt


Research Scientist (Botany), Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2006 - present

Honorary Research Associate, Victoria University of Wellington, 2006 - present

Alexander von Humboldt Experienced Research Fellow, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Sept 2012 - Feb 2014

Email: heidim@tepapa.govt.nz

General research interests

My research interests are in systematics, biogeography, phylogeography, and speciation of plants, particularly alpine plants in the Southern Hemisphere. The main goals of my research are to integrate molecular data (from AFLP DNA fingerprinting and DNA sequencing) with morphology, cytology and other data to better understand the taxonomy and geographical and morphological patterns of species, and especially New Zealand species radiations. To date I have been involved in projects largely on genera in the family Plantaginaceae, including Ourisia, Veronica, and Plantago, but my main project is now Myosotis (Boraginaceae). I also co-supervise graduate students; currently I am co-supervisor for Massey University PhD student Jessie Prebble, who is doing her thesis on Myosotis , and University of Copenhagen PhD student Gustavo Hassemer, who is doing his thesis on Plantago.

Reconstructing species radiations in New Zealand

Recent molecular studies on New Zealand plants have shown that many species-rich groups have perhaps invariably arisen from very rapid adaptive radiation following dispersal of a single founder species, and this is especially true in alpine groups. In many such species radiations, low levels of DNA sequence variation accompany marked morphological and ecological divergence. New Zealand is home to many endemic species radiations, a diverse array of ecological habitats, and a complex geological history, and is thus an ideal place to investigate the impact of geological, ecological and genetic factors on patterns of alpine plant evolution. Evolutionary studies that address the timing of these extensive New Zealand species radiations and the driving forces behind them are important to extend the ideas developed for island systems, such as Hawai'i and Macaronesia, to micro-continents such as New Zealand.

What factors might be generating ecological and morphological differences among species and, ultimately, driving speciation in the New Zealand alpine flora? To answer this question, the first step is to reconstruct the evolutionary history of New Zealand plant species radiations, which has proven to be a notoriously difficult task as many of them have evolved relatively recently in geological time. meudt_ourisia.jpgBy performing similar studies on other New Zealand plant species radiations, it will be possible to adopt a comparative apporach and test whether the same mechanisms are responsible for any shared evolutionary and phylogeographic patterns. Species delimitation using multiple analysese of AFLP data was largely congruent with previous studies based on morphological data for Ourisia (Plantaginaceae), but AFLP were not as useful for resolving many species relationships (Meudt et al. 2009).

Similarly, analyses of AFLP and morhpological data were used to show that species limits needed some realigning in high-elevation Australasian snow hebes, which are a small lineage comprising four cushion species of Veronica (Plantaginaceae), New Zealand's largest plant species radiation (Meudt & Bayly 2008; Meudt 2008; Albach & Meudt 2010). In constrast to Ourisia, however, AFLP data were informative regarding snow hebe species relationships and phylogeography, highlighting allopatric patterns of speciation in the South Island of New Zealand and dispersal of two species independently from New Zealand to Australia (Meudt & Bayly 2008). The pattern seen in the 11 native species of Plantago (Plantaginaceae) is different yet again, with three inferred introductions to New Zealand from Australian ancestors (Tay et al. 2010a), a complex evolutionary history likely involving allo- and autopolyploidy (Murray et al. 2010; Meudt 2011), and challenges regarding species delimitation (Tay et al. 2010b; Meudt 2012).

It is because of my interest in reconstructing plant species radiations that I have also become very interested in determining and improving the utility of AFLP data for the study of such radiations and other closely-related species complexes (Meudt et al. 2009). In the studies highlighted above, as well as others, AFLP data have been shown to be useful for delimiting species, or phylogenetic reconstruction, or both (or neither!). The appropriate use of AFLP scoring software to optimize scoring parameters prior to analysis (Holland et al. 2008), as well as use of several complementary analysis methods (including recent ones such as supernetworks) to get the maximum signal from AFLP data and understand the basis of any conflict are very important yet often overlooked components of such studies (Meudt & Clarke 2007, Holland et al. 2008, Meudt et al. 2009; Meudt 2011; Stölting et al. 2011).

As an Alexander von Humboldt Experienced Researcher Fellow (2012-2014), I built upon previous collaborations with Dirk Albach (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany) to start a new research project to use RNA-Seq transcriptomic data to gain insights into the evolution of polyploidy in plant species radiations in the non-model genus Veronica (Plantaginaceae). In this project, we developed de novo high-throughput Illumina transcriptome data (over 100 million sequences!) for Veronica polyploids and their diploid relatives from both Europe and New Zealand to 1) discover to what extent evidence for polyploidy (and specifically allopolyploidy) is apparent, and 2) determine whether homeologous copies that originate from different parental diploid species could be identified (Meudt et al. in prep.). Another project involved generating genome size estimates using flow cytometry for many New Zealand and Australian Veronica species, as well as several new estimates for Northern Hemisphere Veronica, and will interpret these in a phylogenetic context to better understand the evolution of genome size and its potential role in species radiations (Meudt et al. in prep.).

2014 Australasian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS) Plenary Talk

I was invited to give a plenary talk for the 2014 ASBS Conference which took place at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand from 24-28 November, 2014. You can download a pdf of my talk and some related papers by following the links:

Meudt Heidi M. Next-generation, integrative, collaborative systematics.


27. Eike Mayland-Quellhorst, Heidi M. Meudt & Dirk C. Albach. 2016. Transcriptomic resources and microfluidic marker validation for diploid and polyploid species of Veronica (Plantaginaceae) from New Zealand and Europe. Applications in Plant Sciences 4(10): 1600091.

26. Heidi M. Meudt. 2016. Taxonomic utility of pollen in the “bracteate-prostrate” group of New Zealand native forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boraginaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 54(4):

25. Gustavo Hassemer, Rafael Trevisan, Heidi M. Meudt, and Nina Rønsted. 2015. Taxonomic novelties in Plantago section Virginica (Plantaginaceae) and an updated identification key. Phytotaxa 221 (3): 226–246.

24. Prebble, Jessica M., Jennifer A. Tate, Heidi M. Meudt, V. Vaughan Symonds. 2015. Microsatellite markers for the New Zealand endemic Myosotis pygmaea species group (Boraginaceae) amplify across species. Applications in Plant Sciences 3(6):1500027.

23. Meudt, Heidi M.,Blanca Rojas-Andrés, Jessica M. Prebble, Evonne Low, Phil J. Garnock-Jones, and Dirk C. Albach. 2015. Is genome downsizing associated with diversification in polyploid lineages of Veronica (Plantaginaceae)? Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 178:243–266.

23. Meudt, Heidi M., Jessica M. Prebble, and Carlos A. Lehnebach. 2015. Native New Zealand forget-me-nots ( Myosotis, Boraginaceae) comprise a Pleistocene species radiation with very low genetic divergence. Plant Systematics and Evolution 301:1455-1471. doi:10.1007/s00606-014-1166-x.

22. Meudt Heidi M., Jessica M. Prebble, Rebecca J. Stanley, and Michael J. Thorsen. 2013. Morphological and amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) data show that New Zealand endemic Myosotis petiolata (Boraginaceae) comprises three rare and threatened species. Australian Systematic Botany 26:210–232.

21. Meudt, Heidi M. 2012. Taxonomic revision of New Zealand endemic species of Plantago (Plantaginaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 50(2):101-178. <a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0028825X.2012.671179">Article</a>

20. Prebble, Jessie, Heidi M. Meudt, and Phil Garnock-Jones. 2012. Phylogenetic relationships and species delimitation of New Zealand bluebells ( Wahlenbergia, Campanulaceae) based on analyses of AFLP data. New Zealand Journal of Botany 50: 365-378.

19. Prebble, Jessie, Heidi M. Meudt, and Phil Garnock-Jones. 2012. Molecular phylogeny of Australasian Wahlenbergia (Campanulaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 25(1):11-30. <a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SB11023">Arcticle</a>

18. Prebble, Jessie, Chris Cupido, Heidi M. Meudt, and Phil Garnock-Jones. 2011. Biogeography and a first phylogeny of Wahlenbergia (Campanulaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59:636-648. Article

17. Meudt, Heidi M. 2011. AFLP data reveal a history of auto- and allopolyploidy in New Zealand endemic species of Plantago (Plantaginaceae): New perspectives on a taxonomically-challenging group. International Journal of Plant Sciences 172:220-237. Article

16. Stölting, Kai N., Clarke, Andrew C., Meudt, Heidi M., Blankenhorn, Wolf U., and Wilson, Anthony B. 2011. Cost-effective fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analyses using a three primer system. Molecular Ecology Resources 11:494-502. Article

15. Murray, Brian, Heidi M. Meudt, Mei Lin Tay, and Phil Garnock-Jones. 2010. New chromosome numbers in New Zealand species of Plantago (Plantaginaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 48(3):197-204. Article

14. Tay, Mei Lin, Heidi M. Meudt, Phil Garnock-Jones, and Peter Ritchie. 2010b. Testing species limits of New Zealand Plantago (Plantaginaceae) using internal transcribed spacer (ITS) DNA sequences. New Zealand Journal of Botany 48(3):205-224. Article

13. Tay, Mei Lin, Heidi M. Meudt, Phil J. Garnock-Jones, Peter A. Ritchie. 2010a. DNA sequences from three genomes reveal multiple long-distance dispersals and non-monophyly of sections in Australasian Plantago (Plantaginaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 23:47-68. Article

12. Albach, Dirk C. and Heidi M. Meudt. 2010. Phylogeny of Veronica in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres based on plastid, nuclear ribosomal and nuclear low-copy DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 457–471. Article

11. Meudt, Heidi M., Lockhart, Peter J and Bryant, David. 2009. Species delimitation and phylogeny of a New Zealand plant species radiation. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9:111. Article PICK

10. Meudt, Heidi M. 2008. Taxonomic revision of the snow hebes ( Veronica s.l., Plantaginaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 21(6) 387-421. Article

9. Holland, Barbara R., Andrew C. Clarke and Heidi M. Meudt. 2008. Optimizing automated AFLP scoring parameters to improve phylogenetic resolution. Systematic Biology 57(3): 347-366. Article PICK

8. Meudt, Heidi M. and Michael J. Bayly. 2008. Phylogeographic patterns in the Australasian genus Chionohebe ( Veronica s.l., Plantaginaceae) based on AFLP and chloroplast DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47(1): 319-338. Article

7. Meudt, Heidi M. and Beryl B. Simpson. 2007. Phylogenetic analysis of morphological characters in Ourisia (Plantaginaceae): taxonomic and evolutionary implications. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 94(3):554-570. Article

6. Meudt, Heidi M. and Andrew C. Clarke. 2007. Almost Forgotten or Latest Practice? AFLP applications, analyses and advances. Trends in Plant Science. 12(3):106-117. Article

5. Carter, Richard J., Heidi M. Meudt, and Peter J. Lockhart. 2006. Investigating the potential of LENZ in evolutionary studies on the New Zealand alpine flora. Miscellaneous Publication Series of the Geological Society of New Zealand 121:10-12. Article

4. Meudt, Heidi M. and Beryl B. Simpson. 2006. The biogeography of subalpine, austral Ourisia (Plantaginaceae) based on molecular phylogenetic evidence: South American origin and dispersal to New Zealand and Tasmania. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 87: 479-513. Article

3. Meudt, Heidi M. 2006. A revision of the genus Ourisia (Plantaginaceae). Systematic Botany Monographs 77: 1-188. Purchase here - Available on JSTOR here

2. Albach, Dirk C., Heidi M. Meudt, and Bengt Oxelman. 2005. Piecing together the “new” Plantaginaceae. American Journal of Botany 92: 297-315. Article

1. Meudt, Heidi M. and Stephan G. Beck. 2003. Ourisia cotapatensis (Scrophulariaceae s.l.): A new species from Bolivia. Lundellia 6:97-112. Abstract

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