PD Dr. Michael Pirie

Research projects

The focus of my research is on hypothesis testing using molecular phylogenetic techniques. I have worked with various groups mainly of flowering plants (in particular Annonaceae; Danthonioideae [Poaceae]; and Erica [Ericaceae]) to address questions including why tropical South America is so diverse; what are the forces driving patterns of dispersal and diversification across the tropics, the continents of the Southern Hemisphere, or mountain systems such as the New Zealand Southern Alps and South African Cape fold mountains; and whether diversification has been influenced by particular phenomena such as shifts in morphological or physiological attributes or hybridisation. I am interested in the methodologies of phylogenetic systematics, in particular the fast developing fields of phylogenomics, molecular dating and reconstructing reticulate species phylogenies; and also in taxonomy and classification.My current DFG-financed research programme is focused on the systematics and evolution of Erica, and also includes the doctoral thesis of Malvina Kadlec, on the Erica imbricata clade. Further information, including potential BSc and MSc projects can be found at: https://sites.google.com/site/mikepirie/home


Annonaceae; biogeography; evolution; Erica (Ericaceae); reticulation; molecular dating; phylogenomics


Prof. Dirk Bellstedt, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dr. E.G.H. Oliver, Dept. of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dr. Nicholas Le Maitre, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dr. Timo van der Niet, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Dr. Jaime Fagúndez, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Dr. Ana Laura Kuppler, INRES – Plant Breeding, Bonn University, Germany

Dr. Jonathan Kissling, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland

apl. Prof. Dr. Gudrun Kadereit, Institute for Molecular Physiology, Research group Biodiversity and Plant Evolution, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany

Dr. Lars W. Chatrou, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Prof. Paul J. M. Maas, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Rutger A. Wilschut, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands

Dr. Aelys M. Humphreys, University of Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Berit Gehrke, Institute for Organismic and Molecular Evolutionary Biology, Research group Plant Evolution, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany

Dr. Martha Kandziora, University of California, Merced, USA

Dr. Nicolai Nürk, University of Bayreuth, Germany


E-mail: michael.pirie@uib.no