A. Jonathan Shaw

Professor of Biology

Box 90338, 137 Bio Sciences, 130 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 660-7344
My research centers on the evolution and diversity of bryophytes. Current projects in the lab include molecular phylogenetic analyses of familial and ordinal level relationships in the arthrodontous mosses, studies of hybridization using molecular and morphological markers, and investigations of cryptic speciation within geographically widespread species. My own particular focus (as opposed to those of post-docs and graduate students in the lab) at present is the genus Sphagnum (peatmosses). Ongoing research is grounded in phylogenetic analyses at various levels of biological organization from populations up to genus-wide. We utilize DNA sequence data from the nuclear, chloroplast, and mitochondrial genomes to infer historical processes of biodiversification. I have a special interest in the genetic structure of both rare and widespread species. Morphological and molecular information is being used to explore geographic patterns in phylogenetic diversity within the peatmosses. Of particular interest are biogeographic relationships between boreal, tropical, and Southern Hemisphere taxa, and between New and Old World taxa. Our data base presently includes nucleotide sequences from multiple loci representing some 500-600 accessions of peatmosses. Additional information about this ongoing work can be found here. The bryology laboratory is engaged in ongoing collaborative research projects with the New York Botanical Garden, the University of Connecticut, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the University of Alberta. Additional information about these projects can be found here. I serve as Curator of the Bryophyte Herbarium, which includes approximately 230,000 collections of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. The collections represent a central resource for bryological research at Duke, and we are actively integrating molecular investigations with field work and collections- based approaches.


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1983

  • M.S., University of Alberta (Canada) 1980

  • B.S., Cornell University 1977

Shaw, A. J., J. Schmutz, N. Devos, S. Shu, A. A. Carrell, and D. J. Weston. “The Sphagnum Genome Project. A New Model for Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics.,” 78:167–87, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.abr.2016.01.003. Full Text

Goffinet, B., W. R. Buck, and A. J. Shaw. “Morphology, anatomy, and classification of the bryophyta.” In Bryophyte Biology, Second Edition, 55–138, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511754807.003. Full Text

Shaw, A. J. “Bryophyte species and speciation.” In Bryophyte Biology, Second Edition, 445–86, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511754807.013. Full Text

Bell, David, Qianshi Lin, Wesley K. Gerelle, Steve Joya, Ying Chang, Z Nathan Taylor, Carl J. Rothfels, et al. “Organellomic data sets confirm a cryptic consensus on (unrooted) land-plant relationships and provide new insights into bryophyte molecular evolution.American Journal of Botany 107, no. 1 (January 2020): 91–115. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1397. Full Text

Piatkowski, Bryan T., and A Jonathan Shaw. “Functional trait evolution in Sphagnum peat mosses and its relationship to niche construction.The New Phytologist 223, no. 2 (July 2019): 939–49. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15825. Full Text

Liu, Yang, Matthew G. Johnson, Cymon J. Cox, Rafael Medina, Nicolas Devos, Alain Vanderpoorten, Lars Hedenäs, et al. “Resolution of the ordinal phylogeny of mosses using targeted exons from organellar and nuclear genomes.Nature Communications 10, no. 1 (April 2, 2019): 1485. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09454-w. Full Text

Kyrkjeeide, Magni Olsen, Kristian Hassel, Blanka Aguero, Eva M. Temsch, Olga M. Afonina, A Jonathan Shaw, Hans K. Stenøien, and Kjell Ivar Flatberg. “Sphagnum ×lydiae, the first allotriploid peatmoss in the northern hemisphere.” The Bryologist 122, no. 1 (January 29, 2019): 38–38. https://doi.org/10.1639/0007-2745-122.1.038. Full Text

Shaw, A Jonathan, Benjamin E. Carter, Blanka Aguero, Denise Pinheiro da Costa, and Andrew A. Crowl. “Range change evolution of peat mosses (Sphagnum) within and between climate zones.Global Change Biology 25, no. 1 (January 2019): 108–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14485. Full Text

Laenen, Benjamin, Jairo Patiño, Anders Hagborg, Aurélie Désamoré, Jian Wang, A Jonathan Shaw, Bernard Goffinet, and Alain Vanderpoorten. “Evolutionary origin of the latitudinal diversity gradient in liverworts.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127 (October 2018): 606–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2018.06.007. Full Text

Nelson, Jessica M., Duncan A. Hauser, Rosemary Hinson, and A Jonathan Shaw. “A novel experimental system using the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha and its fungal endophytes reveals diverse and context-dependent effects.The New Phytologist 218, no. 3 (May 2018): 1217–32. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.15012. Full Text

Weston, David J., Merritt R. Turetsky, Matthew G. Johnson, Gustaf Granath, Zoë Lindo, Lisa R. Belyea, Steven K. Rice, et al. “The Sphagnome Project: enabling ecological and evolutionary insights through a genus-level sequencing project.The New Phytologist 217, no. 1 (January 2018): 16–25. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.14860. Full Text


Shaw, A. J., C. J. Cox, and I. Melosik. “Diversification of peatmosses: A phylogenetic approach.” In Molecular Systematics of Bryophytes, edited by B. Goffinet, V. Hollowell, and R. Magill, 98:240–54. MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN, 2004.


Selected Grants

Linking evolutionary processes and taxonomy in Sphagnum subg. Cuspidata awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2022

Applying methods for the study of plant microbe interactions awarded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2016

REVSYS: Systematics and evolution of the "Pacific Rim Clade" of sphagnum section subsecunda (Bryophyta) awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2014