Ohio University | College of Arts and Sciences | Department of Environmental and Plant Biology

Porter Hall 315 | Athens OH 45701 | Tel 740 593 1126 | Fax 740 593 1130

Gar W. Rothwell

Distinguished Professor

Ph.D., University of Alberta, 1973

Organismal Botany, Paleontology,
Evolution and Phylogeny

Porter Hall 401; The Ridges, Bldg. #7

740 593 1129/1118

Other Websites

Gymnosperms on the Tree of Life: Resolving the Phylogeny of Seed Plants
Paleobotany in Antarctica
Midcontinent Paleobotanical Colloquium
International Organization of Paleobotany

Faculty Research Focus Areas

Phylogenetic Systematics
Evolutionary Developmental Plant Biology


BIOL 115 (Plant Structure and Development)
PBIO 308/508 (Morphology of Vascular Plants)
PBIO 442/542 (Experimental Anatomy of Plant Development)
PBIO 460/560 (Paleobotany)
PBIO 691 (Scientific Ethics & Academic Integrity)

Departmental Service

Curator, Ohio University Paleobotanical Herbarium (OUPH)

Professional Service

President, International Organisation of Palaeobotany
Associate Editor, American Journal of Botany
Editorial Board, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology

Research Program Summary

Studies of fossil and living land plants are directed toward a fuller understanding of phylogeny and evolution. These are explored using data from morphological, anatomical, ultrastructural, developmental, and molecular characters. Evaluations of ontogeny, reproductive biology, and organismal interactions are emphasized in interpreting development of the modern flora within the context of evolutionary ecology.

Research projects on a wide range of organismal biology topics are available for both undergraduate and graduate students who wish to become practicing scientists. These studies often focus on fossil plants, but structure, growth and development and physiology studies of living plants also are conducted. Anyone interested in doing original research and/or conducting his or her PBIO 404 undergraduate research in organismal botany, may contact Dr. Rothwell for a list and explanation of available topics.

Selected References

Sanders. H., G.W. Rothwell and S.W. Wyatt. 2011. Parallel Evolution of Auxin Regulation in Rooting Systems. Plant Systematics and Evolution 291: 221-225.

Klymiuk, A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2011. The first organismal concept for an extinct species of Pinaceae: Pinus arnoldii Miller. International Journal of Plant Sciences 172: 294-313.

Rothwel, G.W., R. A. Stockey, G. Mapes, and J. Hilton. 2011. Structure and relationships of the Jurassic conifer seed cone Hughmillerites juddii gen. et comb. nov. : implications for the early evolution of Cupressaceae.  Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology164: 45-59.

Jud, N.A., G.W. Rothwell and R.A. Stockey. 2010. Paleoecological and phylogenetic implications of Saxicaulis meckertii gen. et sp. nov.: a bennettitalean stem from the Upper Cretaceous of western North America. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 171: 915-925.

Stevens, L.G., J. Hilton, A.R. Rees, G.W. Rothwell and R.M. Bateman. 2010. Systematics, phylogenetics, and reproductive biology of Flemingites arcuatus sp. nov., an exceptionally preserved and partly reconstructed Carboniferous arborescent lycopsid. International Journal of Plant Sciences 171: 783-808.

Rothwell, G.W. and R.A. Stockey. 2010. Independent evolution of seed enclosure in Bennettitales: Evidence from the anatomically preserved cone Foxeoidea connatum gen. et sp. nov.  Pp. 51-66. In C.T. Gee [ed.], Plants in Mesozoic Time: Innovations, Phylogeny, Ecosystems (Ted Delevoryas festschrift).  Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis.


Stewart, W.N. and G.W. Rothwell. 1993. Paleobotany and the evolution of plants. Cambridge University Press, 521 pp.


National Science Foundation Grant EF-0629819

Current and Recent Research Projects

Paleo-evo/devo: employing anatomical fingerprints of changes in gene regulation to reconstruct evolution and phylogeny
Resolving the gymnosperm tree of life
The origins of modern conifer families

Current and Recent Student Research Projects

Reconstructing a species of the filicalean fern Senftenbergia from the Pennsylvanian of Oregon.
Alternative pathways of gene regulation in the evolution of leaves in ferns and seed plants.
Evolutionary radiation of modern Equisetum in the Lower Cretaceous.
Structural finger prints for developmental regulatory pathways in fossil plants.
Polar auxin regulation in the architectural diversity of isoetalean lycophytes.
Reconstructing Pennsylvanian age fossil conifers.
Permian cardiocarpalean ovules from the Angara Province of Russia.
Conifer phylogeny.
The most ancient complex land organisms.
Euphyllophyte phylogeny.

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