Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Kenneth Wurdack

Research Botanist and Associate Curator of Botany (Euphorbiaceae, Malpighiales)
Department / Division
  • B.S., University of Maryland, College Park
  • M.S., University of North Carolina
  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina
Research Interests

Systematic biology: Systematics, phylogenetics, and biogeography of Euphorbiaceae s.l. and other Malpighiales; also Thymelaeaceae. Evolutionary biology: plant-insect interactions, especially pertaining to ants and myrmecophytic associations. Floristic work: neotropics, southeastern USA, Molecular biology: genome evolution especially in plant mitochondria; processes of molecular evolution. History of science: botanical exploration and natural history, especially pertaining to 19th century southeastern USA.

  • Commock, Tracy, Rose, Philip E., Gandhi, Kanchi N., Campbell, Keron C. St E., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Francisco-Ortega, Javier, and Jestrow, Brett. 2017. "Typification and Nomenclature of Five Taxa Endemic to Jamaica." Harvard Papers in Botany 22 (2):137–140.
  • Funk, Vicki A., Gostel, Morgan, Devine, Amanda, Kelloff, Carol L., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Tuccinardi, Chris, Radosavljevic, Aleks, Peters, Melinda, and Coddington, Jonathan. 2017. "Guidelines for collecting vouchers and tissues intended for genomic work (Smithsonian Institution): Botany Best Practices." Biodiversity Data Journal (5): e11625.
  • Wen, Jun, Harris, Aj, Ickert-Bond, Stefanie, Dikow, Rebecca B., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Zimmer, Elizabeth Anne. 2017. "Developing integrative systematics in the informatics and genomic era, and calling for a global Biodiversity Cyberbank." Journal of Systematics and Evolution 55 (4):308–321.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2017. "A new tiny-leaved species of Raveniopsis (Rutaceae) from the Pakaraima Mountains of Guyana." Phytokeys (91): 1–12.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2017. "A new disjunct Dendrothrix (Euphorbiaceae, tribe Hippomaneae): a Guiana Shield element in sub-Andean cordilleras of Ecuador and Peru." PhytoKeys (86): 117–130.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J. and Farfan-Rios, William. 2017. "Incadendron: a new genus of Euphorbiaceae tribe Hippomaneae from the sub-Andean cordilleras of Ecuador and Peru." Phytokeys (85): 69–86.
  • Horn, James W., Xi, Zhenxiang, Riina, Ricarda, Peirson, Jess A., Yang, Ya, Dorsey, Brian L., Berry, Paul E., Davis, Charles C., and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2014. "Evolutionary bursts in Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae) are linked with photosynthetic pathway." Evolution 68 (12):3485–3504.
  • Horn, James W., van Ee, Benjamin W., Morawetz, Jeffery J., Riina, Ricarda, Steinmann, Victor W., Berry, Paul E., and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2012. "Phylogenetics and the evolution of major structural characters in the giant genus Euphorbia L. (Euphorbiaceae)." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63 (2):305–326.
  • Matamoro-Vidal, A., Furness, C. A., Gouyon, P. H., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Albert, B. 2012. "Evolutionary stasis in Euphorbiaceae pollen: selection and constraints." Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25 (6):1077–1096.
  • Xi, Zhenxiang, Bradley, Robert K., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Wong, K. M., Sugumaran, M., Bomblies, Kirsten, Rest, Joshua S., and Davis, Charles C. 2012. "Horizontal transfer of expressed genes in a parasitic flowering plant." BMC Genomics 13 (3):S25–S30.
  • Xi, Zhenxiang, Ruhfel, Brad R., Schaefer, Hanno, Amorim, André M., Sugumaran, M., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Endress, Peter K., Matthews, Merran L., Stevens, Peter F., Mathews, Sarah, and Davis, Charles C. 2012. "Phylogenomics and a posteriori data partitioning resolve the Cretaceous angiosperm radiation Malpighiales." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109 (43):17519–17524.
  • Soltis, Douglas E., Smith, Stephen A., Cellinese, Nico, Wurdack, Kenneth J., Tank, David C., Brockington, Samuel F., Refulio-Rodriguez, Nancy F., Walker, Jay B., Moore, Michael J., Carlsward, Barbara S., Bell, Charles D., Latvis, Maribeth, Crawley, Sunny, Black, Chelsea, Diouf, Diaga, Xi, Zhenxiang, Rushworth, Catherine A., Gitzendanner, Matthew A., Sytsma, Kenneth J., Qiu, Yin-Long, Hilu, Khidir W., Davis, Charles C., Sanderson, Michael J., Beaman, Reed S., Olmstead, Richard G. et al. 2011. "Angiosperm phylogeny: 17 genes, 640 taxa." American Journal of Botany 98 (4):704–730.
  • Redden, Karen M., Herendeen, Patrick S., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Bruneau, Anne. 2010. "Phylogenetic Relationships of the Northeastern South American Brownea Clade of Tribe Detarieae (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) based on Morphology and Molecular Data." Systematic Botany 35 (3):524–533.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J. and Davis, Charles C. 2009. "Malpighiales phylogenetics: Gaining ground on one of the most recalcitrant clades in the angiosperm tree of life." American Journal of Botany 96 (8):1551–1570.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J. and Dorr, Laurence J. 2009. "The South American genera of Hemerocallidaceae (Eccremis and Pasithea): two introductions to the New World." Taxon 58 (4):1122–1132.
  • Daniell, H., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Kanagaraj, A., Lee, S. B., Saski, C., and Jansen, R. K. 2008. "The complete nucleotide sequence of the cassava (Manihot esculenta) chloroplast genome and the evolution of atpF in Malpighiales: RNA editing and multiple losses of a group II intron." Theoretical and Applied Genetics 116 (5):723–737.
  • Davis, C. C., Latvis, M., Nickrent, D. L., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Baum, D. A. 2007. "Floral gigantism in Rafflesiaceae." Science 315 (5820):1812.
  • Reveal, J. L., Hoffmann, P., Doweld, A., and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2007. "Proposal to conserve the name Phyllanthaceae." Taxon 56 (1):266.
  • Hoffmann, P., Kathriarachchi, H., and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2006. "A phylogenetic classification of Phyllanthaceae (Malpighiales; Euphorbiaceae sensu lato)." Kew Bulletin 61 (1):37–53.
  • Hoffmann, P. and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2006. "Radcliffea, a new genus of Euphorbiaceae sensu stricto from Madagascar." Kew Bulletin 61 (2):193–197.
  • Kathriarachchi, H., Samuel, R., Hoffmann, P., Mlinarec, J., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Ralimanana, H., Stuessy, T. F., and Chase, M. 2006. "Phylogenetics of tribe Phyllantheae (Phyllanthaceae; Euphorbiaceae sensu lato) based on nrITS and plastid matK DNA sequence data." American Journal of Botany 93 (4):637–655.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2006. "The lectotypification and 19th century history of Croton alabamensis." SIDA, Contributions to Botany 22 (1):469–483.
  • Berry, P. E., Hipp, A. L., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Ee, B. Van, and Riina, R. 2005. "Molecular phylogenetics of the giant genus Croton and tribe Crotoneae (Euphorbiaceae sensu stricto) using ITS and trnL-trnF DNA sequence data." American Journal of Botany 92 (9):1520–1534.
  • Davis, C. C., Anderson, W. R., and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2005. "Gene transfer from a parasitic flowering plant to a fern." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 272 (1578):2237–2242.
  • Davis, Charles C., Webb, Campbell O., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Jaramillo, Carlos A., and Donoghue, Michael J. 2005. "Explosive Radiation of Malpighiales Supports a Mid-Cretaceous Origin of Modern Tropical Rain Forests." American Naturalist 165 (3):E36–E65.
  • Kathriarachchi, H., Hoffmann, P., Samuel, R., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Chase, Mark W. 2005. "Molecular phylogenetics of Phyllanthaceae inferred from five genes (plastid atpB, matK, 3' ndhF, rbcL, and nuclear PHYC)." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36 (1):112–134.
  • Kite, G. C., Hoffmann, P., Lees, D. C., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Gillespie, L. J. 2005. "a-Homonojirimycin and other polyhydroxyalkaloids in Suregada Roxb. ex Rottl. (Euphorbiaceae)." Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 33 (11):1183–1186.
  • Kress, W. John, Wurdack, Kenneth J., Zimmer, Elizabeth Anne, Weigt, Lee A., and Janzen, Daniel H. 2005. "Use of DNA barcodes to identify flowering plants." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102:8369–8374.
  • Motley, T. J., Wurdack, Kenneth J., and Deprete, P. G. 2005. "Molecular systematics of the Catesbaeeae-Chiococceae complex (Rubiaceae): flower and fruit evolution and biogeographic implications." American Journal of Botany 92 (2):316–329.
  • Samuel, R., Kathriarachchi, H., Hoffmann, P., Barfuss, M., Wurdack, Kenneth J., Davis, C. C., and Chase, Mark W. 2005. "Molecular phylogenetics of Phyllanthaceae: evidence from plastid matK and nuclear PHYC sequences." American Journal of Botany 92 (1):132–141.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J., Hoffmann, P., and Chase, Mark W. 2005. "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of uniovulate Euphorbiaceae (Euphorbiaceae sensu stricto) using plastid rbcL and trnL-F DNA sequences." American Journal of Botany 92 (8):1397–1420.
  • Davis, C. C. and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2004. "Host-to-parasite gene transfer in flowering plants: phylogenetic evidence from Malpighiales." Science 305:676–678.
  • Wurdack, Kenneth J., Hoffmann, P., Samuel, R., Bruijn, A. de, der Bank, M. van, and Chase, Mark W. 2004. "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Phyllanthaceae (Phyllanthoideae pro parte, Euphorbiaceae sensu lato) using plastid rbcL DNA sequences." American Journal of Botany 91 (11):1882–1900.

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  • Dorr, Laurence J., Romero-Hernandez, C., and Wurdack, Kenneth J. 2018. [Dataset] "A new large-flowered species of Andeimalva (Malvaceae: Malvoideae) from Peru." Distributed by
  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, Pedro, Wurdack, Kenneth J., Ferrucci, M. S., Johnson, Gabriel, Dias, Pedro, Coelho, Rubens G., Somner, Genise V., Steinmann, Victor W., Zimmer, Elizabeth Anne, and Strong, Mark T. 2017. [Dataset] "Generic Relationships and Classification of Tribe Paullinieae (Sapindaceae) with a New Concept of Supertribe Paulliniodae." Distributed by