Tanja  Schuster

Tanja Schuster

Research Scientist (Pauline Ladiges Plant Systematics)

As a plant systematist, Tanja is predominantly interested in the evolutionary history of flowering plants. To understand their relationships and refine classification of particular angiosperm groups, Tanja analyses a variety of data ranging from DNA molecules, chromosome numbers, chemistry, and anatomy to morphological characters.

The group Tanja is most interested in is the buckwheat family Polygonaceae, and she has also worked on Ericaceae, Fabaceae, and Myrtaceae (bloodwood eucalypts). Polygonaceae are a good model system for investigating invasiveness, hybrids, fire adaptation, different breeding and photosynthetic systems, interactions between plants and fungi in the form of mycorrhizal associations or plants as hosts of fungal pathogens, and divergence time estimation for biogeographic analyses. The first and most important building block underlying all of these research aspects is a robust and well-resolved phylogeny, which Tanja is working toward for the bloodwood eucalypts and the buckwheat family.

Another important component of Tanja’s work is collections based research using historical specimens lodged in herbaria. Tanja uses herbarium specimens as sources of DNA, pollen, morphological characters, and information about distribution and habitat preferences that can be extracted from the label associated with the specimen. Most of all, working with plants gives Tanja great joy, because of their beauty and importance due to the plant products we rely on (oxygen, food, spices, medicinal compounds, timber, fibres, fuel, pigments, etc.).

ResearchGate Profile


  • Refereed journal articles
  • Other

Schuster, T.M., Stajsic, V. and Bonito, G.M. (2016). False Polygonaceae Smut: increasing knowledge about Sphacelotheca polygoni-serrulati Maire in Australia. Muelleria 34, 83-102.

Schuster, T.M., Reveal, J.L., Bayly, M.J and Kron, K.A. (2015). An updated molecular phylogeny of Polygonoideae (Polygonaceae): Relationships of Oxygonum, Pteroxygonum, and Rumex, and a new circumscription of Koenigia. Taxon 64, 1188-1208.

Schuster, T.M., Setaro, S.D. and Kron, K.A. (2013). Age estimates for the buckwheat family Polygonaceae based on sequence data calibrated by fossils and with a focus on the amphi-Pacific Muehlenbeckia. PLoS ONE. 10.1371/journal.pone.0061261.

Schuster, T.M., Reveal, J.L.  and Kron, K.A. (2011). Phylogeny of Polygoneae (Polygonaceae: Polygonoideae). Taxon 60, 1653-1666.

Schuster, T.M., Wilson, K.L.  and Kron, K.A. (2011). Phylogenetic relationships of Muehlenbeckia, Fallopia and Reynoutria investigated with chloroplast and nuclear data. International Journal of Plant Sciences 172, 1053-1066.

Sanchez, A., Schuster, T.M., Burke, J. and Kron, K.A. (2011). Taxonomy of Polygonoideae (Polygonaceae): A new tribal classification. Taxon 60, 151-160.

Sanchez, A., Schuster, T.M. and Kron, K.A. (2009). A large scale phylogeny of Polygonaceae and its implications for taxonomic circumscriptions. International Journal of Plant Sciences 170, 1044-1055.

Delprete, P.G., Schuster, T.M. and Hiepko, P. (2005). An annotated translation of Karl Schumann’s 1888 Ueber einige verkannte oder wenig gekannte Geschlechter der Rubiaceen Suedamericas” [“about some misunderstood or little-known taxa of South American Rubiaceae”] with notes on the Rubiaceae type specimens kept at Berlin Herbarium. Botanische Jahrbücher für Systematik, Pflanzengeschichte und Pflanzengeographie 126, 3-69.

Schuster, T.M. (2016).  Featured Herbarium: MEL – The National Herbarium of Victoria. The Vasculum 11, 2-8.

Schuster, T.M. (2011). Pohuehue – Muehlenbeckia Meisn. (Polygonaceae) and its relatives. Trilepidea 86, 4-6.