About

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 been working at the Australian Tropical Herbarium where I am leading the orchid research program. My current research projects employ 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 (the Donkey, Spider, Leek orchids and Co.), the subtribe Pterostylidinae (the Greenhood orchid alliance), 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.

Students with research interests in plant phylogenomics, historical biogeography, diversification rates analyses and conservation genomics, please feel free to contact me to enquire about opportunities within my research group.

Interests
Research
  • Orchid phylogenomics: Phylogeny, evolution and systematics of Australasian orchids
  • Conservation genomics for Australian threatened orchid species
Teaching
  • Organizer, ATH Science Circle, Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University, Cairns.
Experience
  • 2016 to present - CSIRO Research Scientist, Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns)
  • 2013 to present - Research Associate, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Studies (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2012 to present - Research Associate, Center for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, JCU (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2010 to present - Program leader, Orchid Research, Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2015 to 2016 - Acting Director (12/15-01/16), Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2010 to 2016 - CSIRO/JCU Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2014 - Acting Director (09/2014), Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2013 - Acting Director (08/2013), Australian Tropical Herbarium (Cairns, Australia)
  • 2008 to 2011 - Principal Investigator. Project area A: Evolution and Climate. Project group: Cenozoic diversification and climate change, Biodiversity and Climate Center (Frankfurt/Main, Germany)
  • 2008 to 2010 - Project leader (S1 laboratory), Grunelius Möllgaard laboratory, Research Institute Senckenberg (Frankfurt/Main, Germany)
  • 2007 to 2010 - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dept. Botany and Molecular Evolution, Research Institute Senckenberg and Goethe University (Frankfurt/Main, Germany)
  • 2001 to 2007 - Research Assistant, Dept. Systematics and Taxonomy of Higher Plants, Goethe University and Research Institute Senckenberg (Frankfurt/Main, Germany)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Fellowships
  • 2006 - Marga and Kurt Möllgaard Research Fellow at the Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom
Memberships
  • 2017 - Decadal Plan for Biosystematics and Taxonomy in Australasia Working Group, Australian Academy of Sciences
  • 2016 - Committee member, CSIRO Vacation Scholarship Program
  • 2016 - Research Committee member, Australasian Systematic Botany Society
  • 2013 - Chapter convener, Australasian Systematic Botany Society
  • 2010 - Member, Australasian Systematic Botany Society
  • 2003 - Member, Deutsche Bromeliengesellschaft e.V.
  • 2014 to 2017 - Coordinator, Decadal Plan for Biosystematics and Taxonomy in Australasia
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
More

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 16+ research outputs authored by Dr Katharina Nargar from 2010 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution Meeting - Student Travel Grant

Origins of the northern Australian flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange

Indicative Funding
$811
Summary
I am investigating the origins of the northern Australian flora, and specifically, the exchange of flora with Southeast Asia when Australia collided with the Eurasian plate approximately 25 Mya. This exchange was key in shaping Australia?s northern flora, however the patterns, dynamics and extent of its contribution is poorly understood. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, I aim to characterise the contribution and timing of exchange, establish whether the exchange was directionally biased, identify dispersal tracks of Asian taxa through northern Australia, and investigate underlying dispersal mechanisms. This research can inform conservation decisions and enhance understanding of evolutionary processes across Australasia.
Investigators
Elizabeth Joyce, Darren Crayn and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Sunda; Sahul; Australasia; origin; evolution; phylogenetic

Australia & Pacific Science Foundation - The Australia Pacific Science Hermon Slade Research Fund

Next generation systematics for Nepenthes Pitcher Plants

Indicative Funding
$43,717 over 3 years
Summary
The carnivorous pitcher plant genus Nepenthes comprises c.160 species distributed throughout the Southeast Asia and Oceania. Species have traditionally been distinguished using morphological characteristics, but many recently described species have been distinguished on the basis of minor differences, whose stability has been questioned. To date, no taxonomically informative molecular phylogeny of Nepenthes has been published. The lack of an objective taxonomic framework has hindered efforts of biologists who seek to study and conserve threatened Nepenthes. This study seeks to eliminate this problem using next generation sequencing methods to construct a robust, informative phylogeny of Nepenthes based on c. 100 species.
Investigators
Darren Crayn, Charles Clarke and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Phylogeny; Systematics; Nepenthes; Pitcher plant; Next Generation Sequencing; Evolution

Australasian Systematic Botany Society - Hansjorg Eichler Scientific Research Fund

Origins of the northern Australian flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange

Indicative Funding
$4,970
Summary
I am investigating the origins of the northern Australian flora, and specifically, the exchange of flora with Southeast Asia when Australia collided with the Eurasian plate approximately 25 Mya. This exchange was key in shaping Australia?s northern flora, however the patterns, dynamics and extent of its contribution is poorly understood. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, I aim to characterise the contribution and timing of exchange, establish whether the exchange was directionally biased, identify dispersal tracks of Asian taxa through northern Australia, and investigate underlying dispersal mechanisms. This research can inform conservation decisions and enhance understanding of evolutionary processes across Australasia.
Investigators
Elizabeth Joyce, Darren Crayn and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Sunda; Sahul; Australasia; origin; evolution; phylogenetic

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Taxonomy Research Grant program

Next-generation tassel-fern systematics: species delimitation in the Phlegmariurus phlegmaria complex (Lycopaiaceae)

Indicative Funding
$30,000 over 3 years
Summary
Tassel-ferns (Lycopaiaceae genus Phlegmariurus) are a highly threatened group of rainforest epiphyte (all EVNT) that are prized in horticulture and are the source of an anti-Alzheimer's drug. Phylogenetic investigation has resolved their deeper worldwide radiation but has discovered that previous interpretations of species diversity are inadequate. This project will use Next-Generation Sequencing to resolve their species diversity and determine if there is one common tassel-fern species (Phlegmariurus phlegmaria) ranging from Madagascar to Tahiti or if there are many localised and vulnerable or critically endangered endemics.
Investigators
Ashley Field and Katharina Schulte in collaboration with Sabine Hennequin, Weston Testo and Melissa Harrison (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, University of Vermont and Australian Tropical Herbarium)
Keywords
Lycopodiaceae, Phlegmariurus, Huperzia; Endangered, vulnerable, threatened; Phylogeny, Systematics, Taxonomy; Wet Tropics, Rainforest, Daintree; Evolution, Bioiversity, speciation; DNA, next generation, RAD sequencing

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Biological Resources Study - Postdoctoral Fellowship

Next-generation systematics for Australia's challenging taxa: Unravelling phylogeny, evolution and species delimitation in the sun orchids (Thelymitra Orchidaceae)

Indicative Funding
$270,000 over 3 years
Summary
Standard molecular markers provide only limited insights into phylogenetic relationships in cases where plant groups i) underwent a recent and rapid diversification, ii) are subject to reticulate evolution, and/or iii) include polyploids. Next-generation sequencing technologies now offer the unprecedented opportunity to investigate the evolution of such challenging plant groups. In this project, we aim to apply Next-Generation sequencing approaches in the sun orchids (Thelymitra, Orchidaceae) to a) unravel infrageneric relationships; b) assess the taxonomic value of key morphological characters; c) improve our understanding of interspecific relationships and species delimitation in three significant species complexes through population-level molecular analysis.
Investigators
Katharina Schulte in collaboration with Darren Crayn, Mark Clements and Kingsley Dixon (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority)
Keywords
Sun Orchids (Thelymitra Orchidaceae); Molecular Phylogeny; Systematics and Taxonomy; Evolution; Next Generation Sequencing; Hybridisation

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Biological Resources Study - Student Travel Bursary

Origins of the northern Australian flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange

Indicative Funding
$750
Summary
I am investigating the origins of the northern Australian flora, and specifically, the exchange of flora with Southeast Asia when Australia collided with the Eurasian plate approximately 25 Mya. This exchange was key in shaping Australia?s northern flora, however the patterns, dynamics and extent of its contribution is poorly understood. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, I aim to characterise the contribution and timing of exchange, establish whether the exchange was directionally biased, identify dispersal tracks of Asian taxa through northern Australia, and investigate underlying dispersal mechanisms. This research can inform conservation decisions and enhance understanding of evolutionary processes across Australasia.
Investigators
Elizabeth Joyce, Darren Crayn and Katharina Schulte (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies)
Keywords
Sundaland; Sahul; Australasia; origin; Evolution; Phylogenetic

Department of the Environment and Energy - Australian Biological Resources Study - Student Travel Bursary

Phylogenomic insights into the spatio-temporal evolution of Australasian Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae)

Indicative Funding
$1,500
Summary
Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae) comprises one of the three largest plant genera with more than 2000 species. This project uses DNA sequence data to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships within the diverse Asian and Australasian taxa (~1700 species). Additionaly, within species genetic diversity is mapped for two species endemic to Australia's Wet Tropics mountain tops. The project is significant for establishing a framework phylogeny for this diverse genus and fine scale population sampling to identify phylogeographic patterns within species endemic to Wet tropics mountain tops where significant climate shifts are expected in the coming decades. Outcomes include a genetic database and peer reviewed manuscripts.
Investigators
Lalita Simpson, Darren Crayn, Katharina Schulte and Mark Clements (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Keywords
Tropical biodiversity; Wet Tropics; Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae)

Australian Orchid Foundation - Research Grant

Disentangling evolutionary relationships in the Thelymitra pauciflora/nuda species complex using next-generation sequencing

Indicative Funding
$3,570
Summary
The sun orchids (Thelymitra) are with ~118 species a diverse orchid genus with centre of diversity in Australia. Despite considerable taxonomic work over the past two decades, evolutionary relationships and species delimitation within Thelymitra are still poorly understood. Even molecular phylogenetics using several loci could not resolve most species complexes within the genus, of which the pauciflora/nuda complex is the biggest one, comprising almost half of the genus diversity. This project aims to apply RAD sequencing, a recently developed next generation sequencing method, to unravel the relationships of this complex and improve the taxonomy and systematics of the sun orchids.
Investigators
Lars Nauheimer, Katharina Schulte and Mark Clements (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies and Centre for Australian National Biodiversity)
Keywords
Thelymitra; Orchidaceae; Next Generation Sequencing; Genomics; Phylogeny; RADseq

Australia & Pacific Science Foundation - Research Project Grant

A next-generation framework phylogeny for Diurideae (Orchidaceae)

Indicative Funding
$15,000
Summary
Australia's biodiversity is characterised by a rich endemic flora of terrestrial orchids. Tribe Diurideae (over 900 species) comprises several lineages that underwent major radiations on the continent, such as in Caladeniinae, Prasophyllinae, or Thelymitrinae. This project aims to generate a phylogenetic framework for the orchid tribe Diurideae based on next-generation DNA sequence data. The molecular phylogeny will be used to assess subtribal delimitations and controversial generic concepts in Diurideae, evaluate the taxonomic value of key diagnostic characters, and to infer the spatio-temporal evolution of the tribe. Additionally, the project will provide DNA barcodes across the tribe Diurideae.
Investigators
Katharina Schulte and Darren Crayn in collaboration with Claire Micheneau, Mark Clements and Peter Weston (Division of Tropical Environments & Societies, Centre for Australian National Biodiversity and Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust)
Keywords
Diurideae (Orchidaceae); Next Generation Sequencing; Molecular Phylogeny; Evolution; Systematics and Taxonomy; DNA Barcoding
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Phylogenomic Insights into the Spatio-temporal Evolution of Australasian Bulbophyllum (Orchidaceae) (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Origins of the Northern Australian Flora: Role of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

Connect with me
Share my profile
Share my profile:
jcu.me/katharina.schulte

Email
Location
  • E2.203, Sir Robert Norman Building (Cairns campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Primary Advisor (P)
Find me on…
Icon for ResearcherID page Icon for Google Scholar profile Icon for Facebook profile page Icon for external homepage Icon for ResearchGate profile Icon for Scopus Author page

Similar to me

  1. A/Prof Paul Nelson
    College of Science & Engineering
  2. Prof Darren Crayn
    College of Science & Engineering
  3. Dr Lars Nauheimer
    Australian Tropical Herbarium
  4. Dr Javier Sotillo-Gallego
    Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine
  5. Dr Peter Cowman
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies