Lisa Pokorny

Phylogenomics Research Fellow


Job title: 
Phylogenomics Research Fellow
Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Foreign languages: 
Spanish (native), English (fluent), French (advanced) and intermediate German, Italian, and Portuguese.
Research profiles:


I am an evolutionary biologist interested in unraveling macroevolutionary patterns across land plants. Given the biodiversity crisis we are currently experiencing as a direct consequence of human-driven global warming, it is of paramount importance that we improve our understanding of the mechanisms driving the origin and maintenance of biodiversity across time and space. Given that our planet has experienced drastic climate shifts through its history, I wish to explore how these have affected past speciation, extinction, and migration processes at broad spatial scales. To do this I will combine new analytical and high throughput sequencing approaches with climate and niche modeling, while accounting for phylogenetic relatedness. In particular I will focus on modeling extinction levels across tropical regions, especially in Southeast Asian forests, which have the highest deforestation rate of all tropical regions and are particularly vulnerable to disturbance since they are currently in a refugial stage.


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc Biological Sciences, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Madrid, Spain), 2001.
  • MEd (CAP) Pedagogy, Instituto de Ciencias de la Educación, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Madrid, Spain), 2002.
  • MSc (DEA) Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Madrid, Spain), 2004.
  • PhD Biology, Duke University (Durham, NC, USA), 2012.
  • Postdoctoral Researcher at Real Jardín Botánico-CSIC (Madrid, Spain), 2013–2015.


Selected publications: 

Delaux, P.-M., Radhakrishnan, G.V., Jayaraman, D., Cheema, J., Malbreil, M., Volkening, J.D., Sekimoto, H., Nishiyama, T., Melkonian, M., Pokorny, L., Rothfels, C.J., Winter Sederoff, H., Stevenson, D.W., Surek, B., Zhang, Y., Sussman, M.R., Dunand, C., Morris, R.J., Roux, C., Wong, G.K.-S., Oldroyd, G.E.D. & Ané, J.-M. (2015). Algal ancestor of land plants was preadapted for symbiosis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112(43): 13390–13395. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515426112. Available online

Pokorny, L., Riina, R., Mairal, M., Culshaw, V., Meseguer, A., Carbajal, R., Serrano, M., Ortiz, S., Heuertz, M. & Sanmartín, I. (2015). Living on the Edge: Timing of Rand Flora Pattern Disjunctions Compatible with Ongoing Aridification in Africa. Front. Genet. 6: 154. DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2015.00154. Available online

Mairal, M., Pokorny, L., Aldasoro, J.J., Alarcon, M. & Sanmartín, I. (2015). Ancient vicariance and climate-driven extinction explain continental-wide disjunctions in Africa: the case of the Rand Flora genus Canarina(Campanulaceae). Mol. Ecol. 24(6): 1335–1354. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13114. Available online

Wickett, N.J., Mirarab, S., Nguyen, N., Warnow, T., Carpenter, E., Matasci, N., Ayyampalayam, S., Barker, M., Burleigh, G.J., Gitzendanner, M.A., Ruhfel, B., Wafula, E., Der, J., Graham, S.W., Mathews, S., Melkonian, M., Soltis, D.E., Soltis, P.S., Rothfels, C.J., Pokorny, L., Shaw, A.J., DeGironimo, L., Stevenson, D., Surek, B., Villarreal, J.C., Roure, B., Philippe, H., dePamphilis, C.W., Chen, T., Deyholos, M., Wang, J., Zhang, Y., Tian, Z., Yan, Z., Wu, X., Sun, X., Wong, G.K.-S. & Leebens-Mack J. (2014). A phylotranscriptomics analysis of the origin and early diversification of land plants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111(45): E4859–E4868. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1323926111. Available online

Li, F.-W., Villarreal, J.C., Kelly, S., Rothfels, C.J., Melkonian, M., Frangedakis, E., Ruhsam, M., Sigel, E.M., Der, J.P., Pittermann, J., Burge, D.O., Pokorny, L., Larsson, A., Chen, T., Weststrand, S., Thomas, P., Carpenter, E., Zhang, Y., Tian, Z., Chen, L., Yan, Z., Zhu, Y., Sun, X., Wang, J., Stevenson, D.W., Crandall-Stotler, B.J., Shaw, A.J., Deyholos, M.K., Soltis, D.E., Graham, S.W., Windham, M.D., Langdale, J.A., Wong, G.K.-S., Mathews, S. & Pryer, K.M. (2014). Horizontal transfer of an adaptive chimeric photoreceptor from bryophytes to ferns. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111(18): 6672–6677. DOI: 0.1073/pnas.1319929111. Available online