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Rob Smissen

Senior Researcher - Botanist
Rob Smissen
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Research interests

Research interests

Plant phylogeny

Reticulate evolution, species radiations, paleopolyploidy

DNA fingerprinting in species level taxonomy


Current projects

Phylogenetics of everlasting daisies (Asteraceae, Gnaphalieae) focussing on the hybrid origins of the major “out of Africa” clades

Population genetics and taxonomy of New Zealand species of Fuscospora (southern beech)

DNA fingerprinting of harakeke and wharariki (New Zealand flax) to support curation of the National New Zealand Flax Collection and taxonomic revision of Phormium.

Reproductive isolation and speciation in Craspedia

Species delimitation in rosette Brachyglottis

Molecular systematics of NZ endemic grass Simplicia

Evolution of the divaricate plant habit in New Zealand

Phylogeny of Olearia and Celmisia (Asteraceae, Astereae)


Recent publications

Beveridge P, Glenny D, Smissen R 2016. Cephalozia tahora Bever. & Glenny, a new species of Cephaloziella (Jungermanniopsida, Cephaloziellaceae) from eastern Taranaki, New Zealand. Journal of Bryology [early view online].

Grosse-Veldman B, Nurk NM, Smissen R, Breitwieser I, Quandt D, Weigend M 2016. Pulling the sting out of nettle systematics - a comprehensive phylogeny of the genus Urtica L. (Urticaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 102: 9-19.

Kramer-Walter KR, Bellingham PJ, Millar TR, Smissen RD, Richardson SJ, Laughlin DC 2016. Root traits are multidimensional: specific root length is independent from root tissue density and the plant economic spectrum. Journal of Ecology 104: 1299-1310.

Novis P, Schallenberg M, Smissen RD 2016. Aquatic nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria associated with blooms of Didymosphenia germinata: insights from a field study. Hydrobiologia 770: 37-52.  

Smissen RD, Thorsen MJ, Breitwieser I, Ward JM 2015. DNA sequence analysis confirms the identify of the intergeneric hybrid Argyrotegium mackayi x Leucogenes leontopodium (Asteraceae: Gnaphalieae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 53: 210-215.

Smissen RD, Mitchell C,Roth M, Heenan PB 2015. Absence of hybridisation between Fuscospora species at a site in Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 53: 168-174.

Tanentzap AJ, Brandt AJ, Smissen RD, Heenan PB, Fukami T, Lee WG 2015. When do plant radiations influence community assembly? The importance of historical contingency in the race for niche space. New Phytologist 207: 468-479.

Breitwieser I, Ford KA, Smissen RD 2015. Characterisation of SSR markers for New Zealand Craspedia and their application in Kahurangi National park. New Zealand Journal of Botany 53: 60-73.

Smissen RD, Richardson SJ, Morse CW, Heenan PB 2014. Relationships, gene flow and species boundaries among New Zealand Fuscospora (Nothofagaceae: southern beech). New Zealand Journal of Botany 52: 389-406.

Galbany-Casals M, Unwin M, Garcia-Jacas N, Smissen RD, Susanna A, Bayer R 2014. Phylogenetic relationships in Helichrysum (Compositae, Gnaphalieae) and related genera: incongruence between nuclear and plastid phylogenies, biogeographic and morphological patterns, and implications for generic delimitation. Taxon 63: 608-624.

Heenan PB, Smissen RD 2013. Revised circumscription of Nothofagus and recognition of the segregate genera Fuscospora, Lophozonia, and Trisyngyne (Nothofagaceae). Phytotaxa 146: 1-31.


PhD Botany

BSc (Hons) Botany


Kilian N, Galbany-Casals M, Sommerer R, Oberprieler C, Smissen R, Miller A, Rabe K 2017. Systematics of Libinhania, a new endemic genus of Gnaphalieae (Asteraceae) from the Socotra archipelago (Yemen), inferred from plastid, low-copy nuclear and nuclear ribosomal DNA loci. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 183(3): 373–412.

de Lange P, Smissen RD, Rolfe JR, Ogle CC 2016. Systematics of Simplicia Kirk (Poaceae, Agrostidinae) – an endemic, threatened New Zealand grass genus. PhytoKeys 75: 119–144.

Richardson SJ, Allen RB, Buxton RP, Easdale TA, Hurst JM, Morse CW, Smissen RD, Peltzer DA 2013. Intraspecific relationships among wood density, leaf structural traits and environment in four co-occurring species of Nothofagus in New Zealand. PLOS One 8(3): e58878.

Galbany-Casals M, Carnicero-Campmany P, Blanco-Moreno JM, Smissen RD 2012. Morphological and genetic evidence of contemporary intersectional hybridisation in Mediterranean Helichrysum (Asteraceae, Gnaphalieae). Plant biology 14(5): 789-900.

Heenan PD, Smissen RD 2012. [Abstract] Classification of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae): the past, the present, and the future. Proceedings: Australasian Systematic Botany Society Conference 2012, Perth, W.A., 23-28 September 2012. Pp. 31.

Mennes CB, Smissen RD, Pelser PB 2012. AFLP analyses do not provide support for recognizing Brachyglottis saxifragoides as a species distinct from B. lagopus (Asteraceae; Senecioneae). New Zealand journal of botany 50(4): 489-495.

Smissen RD, Galbany-Casals M, Breitwieser I 2011. Ancient allopolyploidy in the everlasting daisies (Asteraceae: Gnaphalieae): Complex relationships among extant clades. Taxon 60: 649-662.

Galbany-Casals M, Blanco-Moreno JM, Garcia-Jaxas N, Breitwieser I, Smissen RD 2011. Genetic variation in Mediterranean Helichrysum italicum (Asteraceae; Gnaphalieae): do disjunct populations of subsp. microphyllum have a common origin? Plant Biology 13(4): 678–687.

Smissen RD, Lange PJd, Thorsen MJ, Ogle CC, de Lange PJ 2011. Species delimitation and genetic variation in the rare New Zealand endemic grass genus Simplicia. New Zealand Journal of Botany 49(2): 187-199. CABI:20113237678. Show more