The Natural History of Model Organisms: The biology of C. richardii as a tool to understand plant evolution

  1. Sylvia P Kinosian  Is a corresponding author
  2. Paul G Wolf
  1. Chicago Botanic Garden, United States
  2. University of Alabama in Huntsville, United States


The fern Ceratopteris richardii has been studied as a model organism for over 50 years because it is easy to grow and has a short life cycle. In particular, as the first homosporous vascular plant for which genomic resources were developed, C. richardii has been an important system for studying plant evolution. However, we know relatively little about the natural history of C. richardii. In this article, we summarize what is known about this aspect of C. richardii, and discuss how learning more about its natural history could greatly increase our understanding of the evolution of land plants.

Data availability

Source data for Figure 2 (Range map of Ceratopteris) can be found in the file cer_locations.csv in and in Ceratopteris Brongn. in GBIF Secretariat (2021). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset (accessed via on 2021-10-4).

The following data sets were generated
The following previously published data sets were used

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Sylvia P Kinosian

    Negaunee Institute for Plant Conservation Science, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0918-7196
  2. Paul G Wolf

    Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4317-6976


National Science Foundation (DEB-1911459)

  • Paul G Wolf

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Helena Pérez Valle, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 27, 2021
  2. Accepted: March 18, 2022
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 21, 2022 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: March 21, 2022 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record published: April 4, 2022 (version 3)


© 2022, Kinosian & Wolf

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Sylvia P Kinosian
  2. Paul G Wolf
The Natural History of Model Organisms: The biology of C. richardii as a tool to understand plant evolution
eLife 11:e75019.
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