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Mayo, Simon J. (Retired)

Job title: 

Araceae systematics specialist

Systematics (Alismatids and Lilioids)
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Brazilian Portuguese (fluent), French (intermediate), German (basic), Latin (written)

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Durham Univ., 1971
  • PhD, Reading Univ. 1986.
  • General Committee, Margaret Mee Fellowships Programme
  • Selection Committee, Kew Latin America Research Fellowships Programme (Chair, 1999-2004)
  • Coordinator, Biodiversity Subprogramme, Plantas do Nordeste (1993-2004)
  • Leader of CATE Araceae Web Revision
  • Kew Team Leader for EDIT Network of Excellence (EU).

Araceae systematics, developing internet delivery of taxonomy; quantitative approaches to taxonomic species characterization.

Between 1976 and 1988 the main focus of my research was the systematics of Araceae, especially in Tropical America but including flora treatments from parts of Africa and Europe.  From 1989 to 2004 I worked primarily on developing general institutional collaborations with Brazil, including setting up the Margaret Mee Fellowships Programme, the Kew Latin America Fellowships Programme (KLARF) and the Plantas do Nordeste Programme (PNE), the latter involving the creation of an online Checklist of the Flowering Plants of NE Brazil. This period also included a 2-year secondment to the Federal University of Pernambuco (Recife) where I became involved in supervision of post-graduate research at various Brazilian universities. I led the Tropical America Team from its inception in 2002 until 2004, when I returned to research on Araceae. Since 2004, I have represented Kew in two major E-Taxonomy projects focussing on the delivery of taxonomic information over the internet. CATE Araceae Web Revision aims to aggregate specialists from many countries around a web portal to provide high quality taxonomic resources on the family. The first phase of CATE (Creating a Taxonomic e-Science), funded by NERC from 2005 to 2008 and undertaken as part of a consortium with NHM and Oxford University, is complete; the second phase is now in progress. EDIT is a multi-institutional EU project aiming to integrate the taxonomic resources of Europe through a cyberplatform. Research on Araceae phylogenetics and classification has continued through participation in new molecular phylogenetic studies by Lidia Cabrera and G. Salazar (UNAM, Mexico) and Mark Chase at the Jodrell Lab and by Natalie Cusimano and Josef Bogner at the Munich Botanical Institute of the Ludwig-Maximilian University. Work on morphometrics of leaf characters is ongoing with Brazilian collaborators (Ivanilza Andrade, Lourdes Soares). I am interested in approaches to automated data gathering from specimens, the quantification of ‘difficult' characters and the theoretical and practical problems posed by description and definition of species.

Selected publications: 

Clark, B.R., Godfray, H.C.J., Kitching, I.J., Mayo, S.J., Scoble, M.J. (2009). Taxonomy as an e-Science. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 367: 953-966.

Haigh, A., Reynolds, L., Lay, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Clark B.R. (2009). CATE ARACEAE version 0.8. Available online

Cabrera, L.I., Salazar, G.A., Chase, M.W., Mayo, S.J., Bogner, J. Dávila, P. (2008). Phylogenetic relationships of aroids and duckweeds (Araceae) inferred from coding and non-coding plastid DNA. American Journal of Botany 95(9): 1153 – 1165.

Andrade I.M., Mayo, S.J., Van den Berg, C., Fay, M.F., Chester,M., Lexer, C., Kirkup, D. (2007). A preliminary study of genetic variation in populations of Monstera adansonii var. klotzschiana (Araceae) from north-east Brazil, estimated with AFLP molecular markers. Annals of Botany 100: 1143-1154.

Godfray, H.C.J., Clark, B.R., Kitching, I.J., Mayo, S.J., Scoble, M.J. (2007). The web and the structure of taxonomy. Systematic Biology 56(6): 943-955.

S.J. Mayo, R. Allkin, W. Baker, V. Blagoderov, I. Brake, B. Clark, R. Govaerts, C. Godfray, A. Haigh, R. Hand, K. Harman, M. Jackson, N. Kilian, D.W. Kirkup, I. Kitching, S. Knapp, G.P. Lewis, P. Malcolm, E. von Raab-Straube, D.M. Roberts, M. Scoble, D.A. Simpson, C. Smith, V. Smith, S. Villalba, L. Walley, P. Wilkin (2008). Alpha e-taxonomy: responses from the systematics community to the biodiversity crisis. Kew Bulletin 63(1): 1 – 16.