Plants, people and evolution: a meeting in honour of Barbara Pickersgill


On 4 August 2006 the Linnean Society of London hosted a one- day conference in honour of Dr Barbara Pickersgill, the geneticist and expert on Capsicum at Reading University, who retired in September 2005 after over 30 years teaching and research.

Prof. Spencer Barrett makes a presentation to Barbara Pickersgill

Prof. Spencer Barrett presents Barbara Pickersgill with a drawing of Capsicum plants by Jean Andrews.

You can see more pictures at

It was a rare opportunity for an audience of over one hundred to hear an international range of specialists in plant domestication, cytogenetics and taxonomy, reflecting Barbara's wide interests. Abstracts are available. Papers (but not posters) given at the meeting will be published in Annals of Botany in 2007.


09:00 - 10:00 Registration

10:00 - 10.15 Welcome: David CUTLER, The Linnean Society of London, UK Vernon HEYWOOD, University of Reading, UK

10:00 - 13:00 Chair: Bill BAKER, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

10:15 - 10:45 Duncan VAUGHAN, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Japan Rice, people & evolution: From prehistory to the biotechnology era

10:45 - 11:15 Daniel ZOHARY, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel The impact of self-pollination on early crop domestication in the Near East

11:15 - 12:00 Refreshments

12:00 - 12:30 Mark NESBITT, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK Wheat domestication: archaeology and genetics

12:30 - 13:00 Giles WAINES, University of California, USA Domestication and Crop Physiology: Roots of a Green Revolution

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch

14:00 - Close Chair: Julie HAWKINS, University of Reading, UK

14:00 - 14:30 Colin HUGHES, University of Oxford, UK Backyard sympatry, spontaneous hybridisation and crop domestication in pre-Columbian Mexico - insights from Leucaena (Leguminosae)

14:30 - 15:00 Alejandro F. CASAS, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Evolutionary ecology of columnar cacti under domestication in Mesoamerica

15:00 - 15:30 Bruce D. SMITH, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA Lagenaria siceraria: Genetic and archaeological evidence for the early history of domesticated bottle gourd

15:30 - 16:15 Refreshments

16:15 - 16:45 Jonathan F. WENDEL, Iowa State University, USA Genes, jeans, and genomes: plant exploration and the wonders of cotton

16:45 - 17:15 Spencer C. H. BARRETT, University of Toronto, Canada The evolution of sexual diversity in Daffodils (Narcissus)

17:15 - 17:45 Remarks by Spencer Barrett

17:45 - 19:00 Evening Reception

19.30 Optional dinner nearby (must be pre-booked with Mark Nesbitt by 31 July)


Registration fees are low (£25/£15) and include lunch and an evening reception.

Registration form and details at the Linnean Society website:

Organisers: Julie Hawkins (j.a.hawkins at and (Mark Nesbitt (m.nesbitt at