Dr Chris Thorogood


My research focuses on the evolution of parasitic and carnivorous plants, and plant diversity in floristic hotspots including the Mediterranean Basin, Macaronesia, Southeast Asia, and Japan. Specifically, I am interested in speciation and adaptive radiations in cryptic parasitic and carnivorous plant groups, as well as taxonomic diversity in biodiversity hotspots. A more recent research focus, working with scientists from other disciplines, is on technological applications of plants, or ‘biomimetics’ (the synthesis of synthetic materials or systems that mimic biological processes).

Examples of live collaborative research projects include:

•    Exploring the taxonomy, systematics and uses of the genus Cistanche with Professor Julie Hawkings’ group at the University of Reading, and colleagues in China and the Middle East.
•    Investigating the pollination chemistry of aroids with Professor James McCullagh in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford.
•    The development of a herbal of Iraq, examining the uses of plants in traditional Islamic Medicine, working with Dr Shahina Ghazanfar at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
•    Taxonomic circumscription and conservation in the Canary Islands with Dr Mark Carine at the London Natural History Museum and colleagues in the Canary Islands.
•    Biomimetics, technological applications of plants, and the mathematics of plant structures and surfaces with Dr Finn Box and the University of Manchester and Dr Jian Guan at the University of North Carolina; and Professor Alain Goriely and Dr Derek Moulton at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford.

I am an Editor for the Journal Plants People Planet for which I look after the ‘Flora Obscura’ series, and I am responsible for Public Engagement with Research at the Botanic Garden and Arboretum.

Chris won a scholarship in 2005 to carry out his PhD research on speciation in parasitic plants at the University of Bristol, for which he won the Irene Manton Prize for botany in 2009. Chris is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

Featured publications

Thorogood CJ, Teixeira-Costa L, Ceccantini G, Davis C, Hiscock SJ. 2021. Endoparasitic plants and fungi show evolutionary convergence across phylogenetic divisions. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.17556.
Thorogood, CJ, Leon, CJ, Lei, D, Aldughayman, M, Huang, L-f, Hawkins, JA. Desert hyacinths: An obscure solution to a global problem? Plants, People, Planet. 2021; 3: 302– 307.
Siti-Munirah MY, Dome N, Thorogood CJ. 2021. Thismia sitimeriamiae (Thismiaceae), an extraordinary new species from Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia. PhytoKeys. 29;179:75-89.
Thorogood C, Rumsey F. 2021. Broomrapes of Britain and Ireland. BSBI.
Thorogood C, Rumsey F. 2020. An account of common broomrape Orobanche minor (Orobanchaceae) in the British Isles British & Irish Botany 2(3):223-239.
Thorogood C. 2020. Astonishing plants Trends in Plant Science 25(9):833-836.
Thorogood C, Bauer U. 2020. Shedding light on photosynthesis in carnivorous plants. A commentary on: ‘Nepenthes × ventrata photosynthesis under different nutrient applications’ Annals of Botany 126(1):iv-v.
Thorogood C, Santos JC. 2020. Langsdorffia: Creatures from the deep? Plants, People, Planet 2(3):181-185.
Chomicki G, Thorogood CJ, Naikatini A, Renner SS. 2019. Squamellaria: Plants domesticated by ants. PLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET 1(4):302-305.
Thorogood CJ, 2019. Oxygyne: An extraordinarily elusive flower. Plants, People, Planet. 
Box F, Thorogood C, Hui Guan J, 2019. Guided droplet transport on synthetic slippery surfaces inspired by a pitcher plant. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface 16(158):20190323.
Thorogood CJ, Bougoure JJ, Hiscock SJ. 2019. Rhizanthella: Orchids unseen. PLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET 1(3):153-156.
Thorogood CJ, 2019. Oxygyne: An extraordinarily elusive flower. Plants, People, Planet. DOI: 10.1002/ppp3.26
Thorogood CJ, 2019. Hydnora: The strangest plant in the world? Plants People Planet. DOI: 10.1002/ppp3.9
Thorogood CJ, Dalton N, Irvine, A, Hiscock, SJ, 2018. The reproductive biology of two poorly known relatives of the fig (Ficus) and insights into the evolution of the fig syconium. Nordic Journal of Botany in press.     
Thorogood CJ, Bauer U, Hiscock SJ (2017). Convergent and divergent evolution in carnivorous pitcher plant traps. New Phytologist 217:1035-1041.
Thorogood CJ (2016) Field Guide to the wild flowers of the western Mediterranean. London: Kew Publishing.
Thorogood CJ (2014) Parasitic plants in the Algarve region of Portugal. Haustorium 65: 3-4.
Thorogood CJ, Hiscock SJ (2014) Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Algarve. London: Kew Publishing.
Allen AM, Thorogood CJ, Hegarty MJ, Lexer C, Hiscock SJ (2011) Pollen-pistil interactions and self-incompatibility in the Asteraceae: new insights from studies of Senecio squalidus L. (Oxford ragwort). Annals of Botany 108: 687-698.
Thorogood CJ, Hiscock SJ (2010) Compatibility interactions at the cellular level provide the basis for host specificity in the parasitic plant Orobanche. New Phytologist 186: 571–575.
Thorogood CJ, Hiscock SJ (2010). 'Host specificity and speciation in parasitic plants' in Rutgers (ed.), Phylogeography: Concepts, Intraspecific Patterns and Speciation Processes. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Thorogood CJ (2010). The Malaysian Nepenthes: Evolutionary and Taxonomic Perspectives. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Thorogood CJ, Hiscock SJ (2010). Specific developmental pathways underlie host specificity in the parasitic plant Orobanche. Plant Signaling and Behaviour 14: 5(3).
Thorogood CJ, Rumsey FJ, Hiscock SJ (2009). Seed viability determination in parasitic broomrapes (Orobanche and Phelipanche) using fluorescein diacetate staining. Weed Research 49: 461-468.
Thorogood CJ, Rumsey FJ, Harris S and Hiscock SJ (2009). Host-mediated gene flow in the parasitic angiosperm Orobanche minor (Orobanchaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 282: 31-42.
Thorogood CJ (2008). Host specificity and speciation in parasitic plants. Haustorium 54: 1-3.
Thorogood CJ, Rumsey FJ, Hiscock SJ (2008). Host-specific races in the holoparasitic angiosperm Orobanche minor: implications for speciation in parasitic plants. Annals of Botany 103: 1005-1014.
Thorogood CJ, Rumsey FJ, Harris S and Hiscock SJ (2008). Host driven divergence in the parasitic plant Orobanche minor sm. Molecular Ecology 17: 4289-4303.
Thorogood CJ, Hiscock SJ (2007). Host Specificity in the Parasitic Plant Cytinus hypocistis. Research Letters in Ecology 84234.