Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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Biodiversity and Plant Systematics

Dr. Christiane Kiefer

Dr. Christiane Kiefer
Dr. Christiane Kiefer
Im Neuenheimer Feld 345
69120 Heidelberg
Fon +49 06221 54-4676
Fax +49 06221 54-5508
christiane.kiefer AET

Research Interests

My research interests focus on different evolutionary questions in the Brassicaceae. Past and present projects are ranging from phylogeography (e.g. as in Koch et al. 2006, Kiefer et al. 2009) to questions related to trait evolution (e.g. as in Kiefer et al. 2017, Kiefer et al. 2019). I like to make use of comparative genomics for getting insights into genome evolution and for getting a hand on candidate genes related to traits of interest.

For me one of the most exciting and complex traits is life history (further reading Kiefer et al. 2019). Broadly speaking life history can be divided into two strategies among flowering plants: annual plants complete their life cycle in one year and usually flower once while perennial plants live for many years and typically go through recurrent periods of reproduction.

The annual life history has evolved multiple times independently on family but also tribal and genus level in the Brassicaceae. Comparative genomic approaches across the Brassicaceae can help to shed light on the evolution of life history and may indicate putative candidate genes which play a role in the expression of this complex trait.



Kiefer C. (2021) Genomevolution bei Pflanzen. essentials. Springer Spektrum, Wiesbaden.
Sergeeva A, Liu H, Mai HJ, Mettler-Altmann T, Kiefer C, Coupland G, Bauer P. Cytokinin-promoted secondary growth and nutrient storage in the perennial stem zone of Arabis alpina (2021) Plant J. 105: 1459-1476. doi: 10.1111/tpj.15123. Epub 2021 Feb 1. PMID: 33336445.
Agerbirk N., Hansen C.C., Kiefer C., Hauser T.P., Ørgaard M., Bruun Asmussen Lange C., Cipollini D., Koch M.A. (accepted) Comparison of glucosinolate diversity in the crucifer tribe Cardamineae and the remaining order Brassicales highlights repetitive evolutionary loss and gain of biosynthetic steps. Phytochemistry.

Agerbirk N., Hansen C.C., Olsen C.E., Kiefer C., Hauser T.P., Christensen S., Jensen Rysbjerg K., Ørgaard M., Bruun Asmussen Lange C., Cipollini D., Koch M.A. (accepted) Glucosinolate profiles and phylogeny in Barbarea compared to other tribe Cardamineae (Brassicaceae) and Reseda (Resedaceae), based on a library of ion trap HPLC-MS/MS data of reference desulfoglucosinolates. Phytochemistry.



Lupanga, U., Röhrich, R., Askani, J., Hilmer, S., Kiefer, C., Krebs, M., Kanazawa, T., Ueda, T., Schumacher, K. (2020) The Arabidopsis V-ATPase is localized to the TGN/EE via a seed plant-specific motif. eLife 2020;9:e60568 doi: 10.7554/eLife.60568

Walden N., German D.A., Wolf E.M., Kiefer M., Rigault P., Huang X-C., Kiefer C., Schmickl R., Franzke A., Neuffer B., Mummenhoff K., Koch M.A. (2020) Nested whole-genome duplications coincide with diversification and high morphological disparity in Brassicaceae. Nature Communications 11,3795, doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17605-7.



Koch, M.A., Kleinpeter, D., Auer, E., [...], Kiefer. C. 2019 Living at the dry limits: ecological genetics of Tillandsia landbeckii lomas in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Plant Syst Evol 305, 1041–1053 (2019).

Kiefer, C., Willing, E.-M., Jiao, W.-B., Sun, H., Piednoël, M., Hümann, U., Hartwig, B., Koch, M.A., Schneeberger, K. (2019) Interspecies association mapping links reduced CG to TG substitution rates to the loss of gene-body methylation. Nature Plants.

Hyun, Y., Vincent, C., Tilmes, V., Bergonzi, S., Kiefer, C., Richter, R., Martinez-Gallegos, R., Severing, E., Coupland, G. (2019) A regulatory circuit conferring varied flowering response to cold in annual and perennial plants. Science 363, 6425, 409-412, doi: 10.1126/science.aau8197.

Kiefer, C., Bergonzi, S., Brand, L., Wötzel, S., Koch M.A. (2019) Contrasting life history traits in monocarpic versus polycarpic plants from a molecular-evolutionary point of view. Annual Plant Reviews 2: 1-25.



Mable B.K., Brysting A.K., Jørgensen, M.H., Carbonell A.K. Z., Kiefer, C., Ruiz-Duarte P., Lagesen K., Koch M. A. (2018) Adding Complexity to Complexity: Gene Family Evolution in Polyploids. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution  6.



Kiefer C., Severing E., Karl R., Bergonzi S., Koch M., Tresch A., Coupland G. (2017) Divergence of annual and perennial species in the Brassicaceae and the contribution of cis-acting variation at FLC orthologues. Molecular Ecology 26: DOI10.1111/mec.14084

Jiao W.-B., Garcia G., Hartwig B., Kiefer C., Baker D., Severing E., Willing E.-M., Woetzel S., Madrid-Herrero E., Huettel B., Hümann U., Reinhard R., Koch M.A., Swan D., Clavijo B., Coupland G., Schneeberger K. (2017) Improving and correcting the contiguity of long-read genome assemblies of three plant species using optical mapping and chromatin capture data. Genome Research 27(5): gr.213652.116, DOI10.1101/gr.213652.116


Bewick A.J., Ji L., Niederhuth C.E., Willing E.-M., Hofmeister B.T., Shi X., Wang L., Lu Z., Rohr N.A., Hartwig B., Kiefer C., Deal R.B., Schmutz J., Grimwood J., Stroud H., Jacobsen S.E., Schneeberger K., Zhang X., Schmitz R.J. (2016) On the origin and evolutionary consequences of gene body DNA methylation. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1604666113

Heidel A.J., Kiefer C., Coupland G., Rose L.E. (2016) Pinpointing genes underlying annual/perennial transitions with comparative genomics. BMC Genomics 17: 921, DOI10.1186/s12864-016-3274-1


Willing E-M, Rawat V, Mandáková T, Maumus F, James GV, Nordström KJV, Becker C, Warthmann N, Chica C, Szarzynska B, Zytnicki M, Albani MC, Kiefer C, Bergonzi S, Castaings L, Mateos JL, Berns MC, Bujdoso N, Piofczyk T, de Lorenzo L, Barrero-Sicilia C, Mateos I, Piednoël M, Hagmann J, Chen-Min-Tao R, Iglesias-Fernández R, Schuster SC, Alonso-Blanco C, Roudier F, Carbonero P, Paz-Ares J, Davis SJ, Pecinka A, Quesneville H, Colot V, Lysak MA, Weigel D, Coupland G, Schneeberger K 2015. Genome expansion of Arabis alpina linked with retrotransposition and reduced symmetric DNA methylation. Nature Plants 1. doi: 10.1038/nplants.2014.23

Mau M., Lovell J.T., Corral J.M., Kiefer C., Koch M.A., Aliyu O.M., McKay J., Sharbel T.F. (2015) Hybrid apomicts trapped in the ecological niches of their sexual ancestors. PNAS May 5, 2015 vol. 112 no. 18 E2357-E2365


Lovell, J.T., Aliyu W., Mau, M., Schranz E., Koch M., Kiefer C., Song, B.-H., Mitchell-Olds T., Sharbel, T.F (2013) On the origin and evolution of apomixis in Boechera. Plant Reprod., DOI 10.1007/s00497-013-0218-7.


Karl R., Kiefer C., Ansell S., Koch M.A. (2012) Systematics and evolution of arctic-alpine Arabis alpina L. (Brassicaceae) and its closest relatives in the eastern Mediterranean. Amer. J Bot. 99: 778-794.

Kiefer C., Koch MA (2012) A continental-wide perspective: The genepool of nuclear encoded ribosomal DNA and single-copy gene sequences in North American Boechera (Brassicaceae) PLoS ONE 7(5): e36491.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036491.


Wang, R., Albani, M.C., Vincent, C., Bergonzi, S., Luan, M., Bai, Y., Kiefer, C., Castillo, R., Coupland, G. (2011) Aa TFL1 confers an age-dependent response to vernalization in perennial Arabis alpina. In: Plant Cell 23, 1307-1321.


Koch M.A., Karl R., Kiefer C., Al-Shebaz I.A. (2010) Colonizing the American continent - Systematics of the genus Arabis in North America (Brassicaceae). Amer. J. Bot. 97: 1040-1057.

Tröndle D., Schröder S., Kassemeyer H.H., Kiefer C., Koch M.A., Nick P. (2010) Molecular Phylogeny of the Genus Vitis Based on Plastidic Markers. Am J Bot 97: 1168-1178.

Schurr U., Weyen J., Coupland G., Kiefer C., Simon R., Müller A. (2010) SynRg – Biotechnologie zur Steigerung von Ertrag und Ertragsstabilität nachwachsender Rohstoffe. Chemie Ingenieur Technik 82(9): 1522-2640.


Kiefer C., Dobes C., Sharbel T., Koch M. (2009) Phylogeographic structure of the chloroplast DNA genepool in North American Boechera - a genus and continental wide perspective. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 52 (2): 303-311.

Kiefer C., Dobeš C., Koch, M. (2009) Boechera or not? Phylogeny and phylogeograpy of eastern North American Boechera species (Brassicaceae). Taxon 58 (4): 1109-1121.


Calonje M., Martin-Bavo S., Dobeš C., Gong W., Jordon-Thaden I., Kiefer, C., Kiefer M., Paule J., Schmickl R., Koch M. (2008) A. Non-coding nuclear DNA marker in phylogenetic reconstructions. Pl. Syst. Evol. 10.1007/s00606-008-0031-1

Schmickl R., Kiefer, C., Dobeš C., Koch M. A. (2008) Evolution of trnF(GAA) pseudogenes in cruciferous plants. Pl. Syst. Evol. DOI 10.1007/s00606-008-0030-2


Dobeš C., Kiefer C., Kiefer M., Koch M. (2007) Platsidic trnfUUC pseudogenes in North American genus Boechera (Brassicaceae): mechanistic aspects of evolution. Plant Biology 9: 502-515.

Dobeš Ch., Koch M., Kiefer, C. (2007) Apomixis and radiation at low ploidy levels exemplified in the evolutionary model genus Boechera (Brassicaceae). Regnum Vegetabile 147 : 391-412.

Koch M., Dobeš C., Kiefer C., Schmickl R., Klimes L., Koch M.A. (2007) Supernetwork identifies multiple events of plastid trnF(GAA) pseudogene evolution in the Brassicaceae. Mol. Biol. Evol. 24: 63-73.


Koch, M., Kiefer, C., Vogel, J., Ehrich, D., Brochmann, C., Mummenhoff, K. (2006) Three times out of Asia Minor - the phylogeography of Arabis alpina L. (Brassicaceae). Molecular Ecology; 15 : 825-839.

Koch, M., Kiefer, C. (2006) Molecules and migration: biogeographical studies in cruciferous plants. Plant Systematics and Evolution 259 (2-4): 121-142.


/var/www/cos/ / Dr. Christiane Kiefer _e