Sarah Mathews

Sarah Mathews

Sarah Mathews

Sargent Fellow

1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131
Phone: 617.495.2331
Fax: 617.384.6596


PhD Montana State University
M.Sc. Montana State University
B.Sc. Colorado State University

Research Interests

Phylogenetics; diversification of land plants, particularly seed plants; parasitic plants; molecular evolution; phytochrome photoreceptors

Current Research

Phylogenetic trees help us to understand the evolution of species, genomes, developmental systems, communities, and biomes. Further, phylogenetic approaches help us identify and fight disease, enhance agricultural production, predict responses to climate change, and conserve biodiversity. Our work in phylogenetics relies on data from protein-coding nuclear genes, the phytochrome photoreceptor gene family, and this gives us the opportunity to investigate hypotheses of plant adaptations to variable light environments. We conduct these investigations using the genetic model, Arabidopsis thaliana.

Recent Publications

  • Beilstein, M.A., N.S. Nagalingum, M.D. Clements, S.R. Manchester, and S. Mathews. 2010. Dated molecular phylogenies indicate a Miocene for Arabidopsis thaliana. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 107 (43): 18724-18727. (Highlighted by Faculty of 1000)
  • Mathews, S. 2010. Evolutionary studies illuminate the structural-functional model of plant phytochromes. The Plant Cell 22: 4-16
  • Mathews, S., M.D. Clements, and M.A. Beilstein. 2010. A duplicate gene rooting of seed plants and the phylogenetic position of flowering plants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365: 383-395.
  • Mathews, S. 2009. Phylogenetic relationships among seed plants: persistent questions and the limits of molecular data. American Journal of Botany 96: 228-236
  • Beilstein, M.A., I.A. Al-Shehbaz, S. Mathews, and E.A. Kellogg. 2008. Brassicaceae phylogeny inferred from phytochrome A and ndhF sequence data: tribes and trichomes revisited. American Journal of Botany 95: 1307-1327.
  • Mathews, S. and K. McBreen. 2008. Phylogenetic relationships of B-related phytochromes in the Brassicaceae: Redundancy and the persistence of phytochrome D. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49: 411-433
  • Burleigh, J.G., and S. Mathews. 2007. Assessing systematic error in the inference of seed plant phylogeny. International Journal of Plant Sciences 168: 125-135.
  • Burleigh, J.G., and S. Mathews. 2007. Among-locus variation in the inference of seed plant phylogeny. International Journal of Plant Sciences 168: 111-124
  • Mathews, S. 2006. Phytochrome-mediated development in land plants: red light sensing evolves to meet the challenges of changing light environments. Molecular Ecology 15: 3483-3503
  • Bennett, J.R. and S. Mathews. 2006. Phylogeny of the parasitic plant family Orobanchaceae inferred from phytochrome A. American Journal of Botany 93: 1039-1051

More publications

Current Grants

  • National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology, Systematics and Biodiversity Science Grant, Award 1020868: “Biogeographic and ecological diversification of trees across the Indonesian archipelago: developing indigenous leadership in biodiversity informatics,” Co-PI (with PI Campbell Webb), 2010-2013 ($380,000)
  • National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology, Emerging Frontiers, Award 0629890: Collaborative Research: Gymnosperms on the Tree of Life: Resolving the phylogeny of seed plants,” Lead PI, 2006 to 2011 ($665,505)