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College of Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

In memory of

Dr. Timothy Motley



Ph.D. University of Hawaii, Botany and Ecology Evolution & Conservation Biology, 1996
M.S. Eastern Illinois University, Botany, 1989
B.S. Eastern Illinois University, Botany, 1987

Teaching Responsibilities:

BIOL 322 - Ethnobotany (3 Cr., Spring)

BIOL 400/500 - Flowering Plant Families Lecture and Lab (5 Cr., Fall)

BIOL 695 - Advanced Practices in Ethnobotany (3 Cr., Fall)

BIOL 749/849  - Biogeography (3 Cr., Fall)

BIOL 795/895 - Phylogenetics and Molecular Systematics Lecture and Lab (5 Cr., Fall)

Research Summary:

Dr. Motley has worked throughout the islands of the Pacific (Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia) for more than ten years and uses both traditional and molecular systematics techniques to investigate plant evolution in island systems. 

His research interests are in the fields of plant systematics, population genetics, conservation, ethnobotany, and reproductive biology.  Dr. Motley's studies focus on the molecular systematics of the Coffee family (Rubiaceae) and the strychnine family (Loganiaceae). 

In the Loganiaceae, his studies focus on the phylogeny and biogeography of two closely related genera, Labordia and Geniostoma.  The research goals are to address the origins of the Hawaiian genus Labordia and whether dioecy (separate male and female plants) and polyploidy present in Labordia evolved prior to or subsequent to the species arrival in the Hawaiian Islands. 

In the Rubiaceae, Dr. Motley is using phylogenetics to study the biogeographic relationships of Pacific species of Hedyotis.  The delineation of this genus in Hawai`i is in question with one taxonomic group having fleshy fruits and the other producing dry capsules.  It is this novel, diverse morphology that is not accompanied by corresponding high levels of genetic diversity which led to his genomic interests in Hedyotis.  By examining the differences in these closely related species he hopes to determine the genes regulating fruit evolution (senescence of exocarp, dehiscence, and abscission). 

In addition to his research on Labordia and Hedyotis Dr. Motley is collaborating on several research projects on other Pacific and Hawaiian plant lineages.  These include:  1) Scaevola (Goodeniaceae); 2) Hawaiian Chamaesyce (Euphorbiaceae);  3) Hawaiian mints;  4)  Hawaiian Araliaceae;  5) Hawaiian Lysimachia (Primulaceae);  6) Hawaiian Sicyos (Cucurbitaceae); 7) Biogeography of Pacific Peperomia (Piperaceae); 8) Long term monitoring, conservation, spatial distribution and annual growth rates of the Haleakala silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum); 9) Breadfruit evolution and human-mediated migration; and 10) Hawaiian Elaphoglossum origins and evolution. 

Dr. Motley organized a three month botanical expedition to the island of Rapa iti, Austral Islands, French Polynesia.  This was the first extensive research project there since the 1930s.  His research team discovered many new species and new island records.  They estimate that their collections have increased the size of the existing flora by ten percent. This is the first part of a larger program to study the endangered flora and remaining vegetation in the entire Austral archipelago.  Dr. Motley expects that the description and documentation of the botanical specimens and ethnobotanical data collected during this expedition should provide him with ample research in future years.

Curriculum vitae

Selected Publications:


Sánchez del-Pino, I., T. J. Motley, and T. Borsch (2012) Molecular phylogenetics of Alternanthera (Gomphrenoideae, Amaranthaceae): resolving complex taxonomic problems caused by different interpretations of morphological characters in a lineage with C4 andC3-C4 intermediate species.  Botanical Journal of Linnean Society 169: 493-517.

Jabaily, R. S., K. A. Shepherd, M. H. G. Gustafsson, L. W. Sage, S. L. Krauss, D. G. Howarth, and T. J. Motley.  (2012)  Systematics of the Austral-Pacific family Goodeniaceae: Establishing a taxonomic and evolutionary framework.  Taxon 61: 419-436.

Tan, Y., Z. Wang, X.-Y. Sui, G.-W. Hu, T. J. Motley and C. Long.  (2011)  The systematic placement of the monotypic genus Paraisometrum (Gesneriaceae) based on molecular and cytological data.  Plant Diversity and Resources 33: 465-476.

Liao, Y.-Y., X.-Y. Yang, T. J. Motley, J.-M. Chen, and Q.-F. Wang.  (2011)  Phylogeographic analysis reveals two cryptic species of the endangered fern Ceratopteris halictroides (L.) Brongn. (Parkeriaceae) in China. Conservation Genetics 12: 1357-1365.

Jiang, B., C. Ma, T. J. Motley, F. Kronenberg, and E. J. Kennelly.  (2011) Phytochemical fingerprinting to thwart black cohosh adulteration: a 15 Actaea species analysis.  Phytochemical Analysis 22:339-351.doi: 10.1002/pca.1285

Xiao W-L., T. J. Motley, U. J. Unachukwu, C. B. S. Lau, B. Jiang, F. Hong, P-C Leung, Q-F Wang, P. O. Livingston, B. R. Cassileth, and E. J. Kennelly  (2011) Chemical and Genetic Assessment of variability in Commercial Radix Astragali (Astragalus spp.) by Ion Trap LC-MS and Nuclear Ribosomal DNA Barcoding Sequence Analyses. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 59:1548-1556.dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf1028174

Zerega, N. J C., S. Noor, and T. J. Motley.  (2010)  Phylogeny and recircumscription of Artocarpeae (Moraceae) with a focus on Artocarpus  Systematic Botany 35: 766-782.

Liu, F., Y.-Y. Liao, W. Li, J.-M. Chen, Q.-F. Wang, and T. J. Motley, (2010).  The effect of pollination on resource allocation among sexual reproduction, clonal reproduction, and vegetative growth in Sagittaria potamogetifolia (Alismataceae). Ecological Research, 25(3), 495-499. doi: 10.1007/s11284-009-0679-1

Zhang, X.-M., J. Wen, Z.-L. Dao, T. J. Motley, and C.-L. Long.  (2010) Genetic variation and conservation assessment of Chinese populations of Magnolia cathcartii (Magnoliaceae), a rare evergreen tree from the South-Central China Hotspot in the Eastern Himalayas.  Journal of Plant Research 123(3), 321-331. doi: 10.1007/s10265-009-0278-9.

Sánchez-del Pino, I. and T. J. Motley (2010)  Evolution of Tidestromia (Amaranthaceae) in the Deserts of the Southwestern United States and Mexico.  Taxon 59: 38-48.

Wang, Y-H, J-M. Chen, C. Xu, X. Liu, Q-F. Wang, T. J. Motley. (2010)  Population genetic structure of an aquatic herb Batrachium bungei (Ranuculaceae) in the Hengduan Mountains of China. Aquatic Botany 92: 221-225. doi:10.1016/j.aquabot.2009.12.004

Neupane, S., S. Dessein, and T. J. Motley. (2009) The Hedyotis-Oldenlandia-Kohautia complex (Rubiaceae) in Nepal: a study of fruit, seed and pollen characters and their taxonomic significance.  Edinburgh Journal of Botany 66: 1-20. doi:10.1017/S0960428609990035

Sánchez-del Pino, I., T. Borsch, and T. J. Motley (2009)  rpl16 and trnL-F sequence data reveal three major clades within the monophyletic Gomphrenoideae (Amaranthaceae).  Systematic Botany 34: 57-67.

Cortés-B, R.,  P. G. Delprete, and T. J. Motley. (2009)  Phylogenetic placement of the tribe Retiniphylleae among the Subfamily Ixoroideae (Rubiaceae)Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96: 61-67. doi:10.3417/2006198

Groeninckx, I., S. Dessein, H. Ochoterena, C. Persson, T. J. Motley, J. Kårehed, B. Bremer, S. Huysmans, and E. Smets.  (2009)   Phylogeny of the herbaceous tribe Spermacoceae (Rubiaceae) based on plastid DNA data.  Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96: 109-132. doi:10.3417/2006201

Kårehed, J., I. Groeninckx, S. Dessein, T. J. Motley and B. Bremer.  (2008)  The phylogenetic utility of chloroplast and nuclear DNA markers and the phylogeny of the Rubiaceae tribe Spermacoceae.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49:843-866. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.09.025

Rouhan, G., D. H. Lorence, T. J. Motley, and R. C. Moran. (2008)  Revision of Elaphoglossum (Dryopteridaceae) in French Polynesia, with description of three new species. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society158: 309-331. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2008.00858.x

Chen J-M., F. Liu, Q-F. Wang and T. J. Motley (2008)   Phylogeography of a marsh herb Sagittaria trifolia (Alismataceae) in China inferred from cpDNA atpB-rbcL intergenic spacers.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 48:168-175.  doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.03.008

Han, Y., C. Dai, C-F. Yang, Q-F. Wang, and T. J. Motley. (2008)  Anther appendage of Incarvillea trigger a pollen-dispensing mechanism. Annals of Botany 102: 473-479. doi:10.1093/aob/mcn102


Motley T. J., N. Zerega, and H. Cross [eds.]. (2006) Darwin's Harvest: New Approaches to Origins, Evolution, and Conservation of Crop Plants.  384 pp. Columbia University Press, New York, New York, USA.

Struwe L. and T. J. Motley.  (2011, in press)  Loganiaceae.  In: The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Asteridae, K. Kubitzki & J. W. Kadereit [eds.]. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Motley, T. J. and C. Frasier. (2008; released 2009)  LoganiaceaeInCatálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of the Southern Cone) Vol III, pp. 2424-2428.  F. O. Zuloaga, O. Morrone & M. J. Belgrano, [eds.].  Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, MO, USA

Motley, T. J.  (2006)  Crop Evolution: Past, Present, and Future. In: T. J. Motley, N. Zerega and H. Cross [eds.], Darwin's Harvest: New Approaches to Origins, Evolution, and Conservation of Crop Plants , pp. 1-27.  Columbia University Press, New York, New York, USA.

Motley, T. J., H. B. Cross, N. J. C. Zerega, and M. K. Aradhya. (2006) Molecular Analyses.  In: T. J. Motley, N. Zerega, and H. Cross [eds.], Darwin's Harvest: New Approaches to Origins, Evolution, and Conservation of Crop Plants , pp. 370-377.  Columbia University Press, New York, New York, USA.

Cross, H. B, R. Lira Saade, and T. J. Motley. (2006)  Origin and Genetic Diversity in Chayote.  In: T. J. Motley, N. Zerega, and H. Cross [eds.], Darwin's Harvest: New Approaches to Origins, Evolution, and Conservation of Crop Plants , pp. 171-194.  Columbia University Press, New York, New York, USA.

Zerega, N. J. C., D. Ragone, and T. J. Motley.  (2006)  Breadfruit Origins, Diversity, and Human-facilitated Distribution. In: T. J. Motley, N. Zerega, and H. Cross [eds.], Darwin's Harvest: New Approaches to Origins, Evolution, and Conservation of Crop Plants, pp. 213-238. Columbia University Press, New York, New York, USA.

Contact Information:

J. Robert Stiffler Distinguished Chair of Botany
Department of Biological Sciences
110 Mills Godwin Building/45th St
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0266