Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt/M.

Botany and Molecular Evolution

Cooperation between the Goethe University and Senckenberg

A cooperational professorship combines botanical research at the Institute for Ecology, Evolution and Diversity of the Goethe University with the Botany Division at Senckenberg Frankfurt. The working group “Diversity and Evolution of higher plants and lichens” at the university is almost congruent with the the Botany Division at Senckenberg. The Herbarium Senckenbergianum (FR) is one of the larger German herbaria and forms – together with the Grunelius-Moellgaard-Laboratory – the basis for our research and education in systematics, evolution and biogeography of plants and lichens.

Below you find information about our collections, research and projects.


No other Senckenbergian discipline dates back so directly to Johann Christian Senckenberg (1707-1772) like botany. His original foundation, the “Dr. Senckenbergische Stiftung” comprised a hospital, an anatomical theatre, the Senckenbergian library and a botanical garden, where a “Stiftsbotanikus” was appointed as botanist and head gardener. The Stiftsbotanikus Johannes Becker (1769-1833) was one of the founding members of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN) in 1817 (then: Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft) and the society’s first curator for botany. His personal collection formed the main core of the Herbarium Senckenbergianum. The herbarium grew steadily under the following curators for botany, e.g. Georg Fresenius, Theodor Geyler, Adolph Metzler. Several expeditions undertaken under the society’s auspices (e. g. Rüppell to Abyssinia and Arabia, Freyreiss to Brazil) also added important collections.

When Frankfurt University was founded in 1914, the society contributed its botanical and zoological collections to form the biological division. At that time Martin Möbius (1859-1946) was curator (“Sektionär”) of phanerogams of the SGN, and became the first professor of botany of the university, thus also uniting the function of the “Stiftsphysicus” of the “Dr. Senckenbergische Stiftung” in his person. Over the course of time, fields of research at the university and in the SGN diverged, leading to the separation of the institutions. In 1941, Richard Kräusel (1890-1966) was appointed head of the Division of Paleobotany at the SGN. When the herbarium collections were transferred back to the SGN in 1946, the Division of Botany and Paleobotany was formed. In 1966, Hans Joachim Conert succeeded Kräusel as head of this division.

In 1995, an institutionalized cooperation with the Goethe University was re-established by jointly appointing a professor of botany to the university and head of the Division of Botany and Paleobotany (Georg Zizka). In 2004, the Section of Paleobotany was transferred to the Division of Paleontology and Geology. In 2005, the Grunelius-Möllgaard Laboratory for Molecular Evolution was established as part of the division, now named “Division of Botany and Molecular Evolution”.

History in more detail (for english version see page 2)
Herbarium Senckenbergianum


Head of Division (acting)

Portrait Christian Printzen, Sektionsleiter Kryptogamen
Dr. Christian Printzen
Head of the Division of Botany and Molecular Evolution and Head of the Herbarium Senckenbergianum (FR) (both acting) as well as Head of Cryptogams section

Selected publications


Borsch T, Stevens AD, Häffner E, Güntsch A, Berendsohn WG, Appelhans MS, Ba-rilaro C, Beszteri B, Blattner FR, Bossdorf O, Dalitz H, Dressler S, Duque-Thüs R, Es-ser HJ, Franzke A, Goetze D, Grein M, Grünert U, Hellwig F, Hentschel J, Hörandl E, Janßen T, Jürgens N, Kadereit G, Karisch T, Koch MA, Müller F, Müller J, Ober D, Porembski S, Poschlod P, Printzen C, Röser M, Sack P, Schlüter P, Schmidt M, Schnittler M, Scholler M, Schultz M, Seeber E, Simmel J, Stiller M, Thiv M, Thüs H, Tkach N, Triebel D, Warnke U, Weibulat T, Wesche K, Yurkov A, Zizka G. 2020. A complete digitization of German herbaria is possible, sensible and should be started now. Research Ideas and Outcomes 6: e50675

Lutsak T, Fernández-Mendoza F, Kirika P, Wondafrash M, Printzen C. 2020. Coalescence-based species delimitation using genome-wide data reveals hidden diversity in a cosmopolitan group of lichens. Organisms Diversity and Evolution 20: 189–218.

Zhang Y, Wang XY, Li LJ, Printzen C, Timdal E, Yin AC, Wang SQ, Wang LS. 2020. Squamarina (lichenized fungi) species described from China belong to at least three unrelated genera. Mycokeys 66: 135–157.

Gemeinholzer B, Vences M, Beszteri B, Bruy T, Felden J, Kostadinov I, Miralles A, Nattkemper TW, Printzen C, Renz J, Rybalka N, Schuster T, Weibulat T, Wilke T,  Renner SS. 2020. Data storage and data re-use in taxonomy – transforming taxonomy into big data science. Organisms Diversity and Evolution 20: 1–8.

Bungartz F, Elix JA, Printzen C. 2020. Lecanoroid lichens in the Galapagos Islands: the genera Lecanora, Protoparmeliopsis, and Vainionora (Lecanoraceae, Lecanoromycetes). Phytotaxa 431(1): 1–85.


Yakovchenko L, Davydov E, Ohmura Y, Printzen C. 2019. The phylogenetic position of species of Lecanora s. l. containing calycin and usnic acid, with the description of Lecanora solaris Yakovchenko & Davydov sp. nov. Lichenologist 51: 147–156.


Grewe F, Lagostina E, Wu H, Printzen C, Lumbsch HT. 2018. Population genomic analyses of RAD sequences resolves the phylogenetic relationship of the lichen-forming fungal species Usnea antarctica and Usnea aurantiacoatra. Mycokeys 43: 91–113.

Tønsberg T, Printzen C. 2018. Biatora troendelagica new to North America from Alaska, USA. Graphis Scripta 30: 161–165.

Printzen C,  Cezanne R, Eichler M, Jørgensen PM, Teuber D. 2018. An unusual record of Vahliella atlantica from Central Europe. Graphis Scripta 30: 88–93.

Lagostina E, Dal Grande F, Andreev M, Printzen C. 2018. The use of microsatellite markers for species delimitation in Antarctic Usnea subgenus Neuropogon. Mycologia 110: 1047–1057.

Zamora JC, Svensson M, Kirschner R, Olariaga I, Ryman S, Parra LA; Geml J, Rosling A, … Printzen C, … Ekman S [412 authors]. 2018. Considerations and consequences of allowing DNA sequence data as types of fungal taxa. IMA Fungus 9: 167–175.


Lücking R, Moncada B, McCune B, Farkas E, Goffinet B, Parker D, Chaves JL, Lőkős L, Nelson PR, Spribille T, Stenroos S, Wheeler T, Yanez-Ayabaca A, Dillman K, Gockman OT, Goward T, Hollinger J, Tripp EA, Villella J, Álvaro-Alba WR, Arango CJ, Cáceres MES, Coca LF, Printzen C, Rodríguez C, Scharnagl K, Rozzi R, Soto-Medina E, Yakovchenko LS. 2017. Pseudocyphellaria crocata (Ascomycota: Lobariaceae) in the Americas is revealed to be thirteen species, and none of them is P. crocata. Bryologist 120: 441–500.

Lagostina E, Dal Grande F, Ott S, Printzen C. 2017. Fungus-specific SSR markers in the Antarctic lichens Usnea antarctica and U. aurantiacoatra (Parmeliaceae, Ascomycota). Applications in Plant Sciences 5(9): 1700054.

Printzen C, Blanchon DJ, Fryday AM, de Lange PJ, Houston DM, Rolfe JR. 2017. Lecanora kohu, a new species of Lecanora (lichenised Ascomycota: Lecanoraceae) from the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 55: 439–451.Lutsak T, Fernández-Mendoza F, Nadyeina O, Şenkardeşler A, Printzen C. 2017. Testing the correlation between norstictic acid content and species evolution in the Cetraria aculeata group in Europe. Lichenologist 49: 39–56.


Lutsak T, Fernández-Mendoza F, Greshake B, Dal Grande F, Ebersberger I, Ott S, Printzen C. 2016. Characterisation of microsatellite loci in the bipolar lichen-forming fungus Cetraria aculeata (Parmeliaceae, Ascomycota). Applications in Plant Sciences 4(9): 1600047.

Printzen C, Halda JP, McCarthy JW, Palice Z, Rodriguez Flakus P, Thor G, Tønsberg T, Vondrák J. 2016. Five new species of Biatora from four continents. Herzogia 29: 566–585.

Zhao X, Leavitt SD, Zhao ZT, Zhang LL, Arup U, Grube M, Pérez-Ortega S, Printzen C, Śliwa L, Divakar PK, Crespo A, Lumbsch HT. 2016. Towards a revised generic classification of lecanoroid lichens (Lecanoraceae, Ascomycota) based on molecular, morphological and chemical evidence. Fungal Diversity 78: 293–304.

Lutsak T, Fernández-Mendoza F, Kirika P, Wondafrash M, Printzen C. 2016. Mycobiont-photobiont interactions of the lichen Cetraria aculeata in high alpine regions of East Africa and South America. Symbiosis 68: 25–37.

Technical Assistant

Micheline C. Middeke
Technical Assistant for Phanerogams I + II, Herbarium Senckenbergianum (FR)