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Yuval Sapir

Yuval Sapir

Yuval obtained his BSc in Biology in 1997 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He loved the botanical-garden-like campus in Givat Ram, so he stayed there for his MSc and PhD. His masters thesis dealt with Iris morphological taxonomy, while in his doctorate thesis he studied the pollination ecology of the Oncocyclus irises. He received his PhD in 2004. During a postdoc at Indiana University (USA) he carried out research on the ecological genetics of hybrid sunflower species, Helianthus anomalus, and on the pollination ecology of recombinant inbred lines of the cultivated and wild common sunflower. Yuval Joined Tel Aviv University as Porter research fellow in School for Environmental Studies in 2008. He appointed as a director of the Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden in 2009 and joined the Dept. of Plant Sciences as a faculty member in 2012. Since 2018 he is Curator of Herbarium, Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University. His current research interests include the evolution of phenotypic variation of plants in the wild, its genetic drivers, ecological interactions and evolutionary consequences. Especially the genetic basis of pollination-relevant floral traits, Conservation ecology, and the effect of climate changes on plant adaptation to their environment. 


Contact: Sapiry <at> Tl. +972-3-6407354 / +972-54-7203140

Full CV

Research Interests:

The research in sapir's lab focuses primarily on understanding how ecology shapes plants' evolution, how plants adapt to their environment, both biotic and a-biotic, and how species diversity is formed and maintained. Especially I am interested in a few specific questions:

(1) Do pollinators act as natural selection agents on flowers? What is their relative power in shaping floral traits, and to what extent other factors (like a-biotic conditions or herbivores) affect it? 

(2) What are the drivers of flower variation in natural populations? What processes maintain (or remove) variation?

(3) What is the genetic basis of traits affecting floral traits that attract pollinators? Does plant's genetic variation affect pollinators behavior?

(4) Does ecology plays a role in speciation? To what extent ecological adaptation affect reproductive isolation between populations within a species?

(5) Can plants adapt to climate changes in a fast-enough rate? Is rapid evolution plausible in the face of human-made disturbances?

To understand these from evolutionary perspectives, my work involves multiple approaches, including ecological field observations, experiments in greenhouse and in controlled conditions, molecular genetics, and statistical modeling. 



PhD 2004, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Advisors :Prof. Avi Shmida and Prof. Gidi Ne'eman.

MSc 1999, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Advisors: Prof. Avi Shmida and the late Prof. Uzi Ritte.

BSc 1997, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Selected Publications (Full list of publications):

Lavi, R. and Y. Sapir. (2015) Are pollinators the agents of selection for the extreme large size and dark color in Oncocyclus irises? The New Phytologist 205(1): 369-377 (PDF).

Wilson, C. A., J. Padiernos and Y. Sapir (2016) The royal irises (Iris subg. Iris sect. Oncocyclus): Plastid and low-copy nuclear data contribute to an understanding of their phylogenetic relationships. Taxon, 65:35-46 (PDF).

Lebel, M., U. Oboloski, L. Hadany and Y. Sapir (2018) Pollinator-mediated selection on floral size and tube color in Linum pubescens: can differential behavior and preference in different times of the day maintain dimorphism? Ecology and Evolution 8:1096–1106. (PDF).​

Penner, S., Dror, B., Aviezer, I., Bar-Lev, Y., Salman-Minkov, A., Mandakova, T., Šmarda, P., Mayrose, I. and Sapir, Y. (2019) Phenology and polyploidy in annual Brachypodium species (Poaceae) along the aridity gradient in Israel. Journal of Systematics and Evolution: DOI: 10.1111/jse.12489 (PDF).

​Veits, M., U. Ben-Dor, P. Estlein, A. Kabat, U. Obolski, A. Boonman, E. Zinger, T. Khait, D. A. Chamovitz, Y. Sapir, Y. Yovel, and L. Hadany (2019). Plants can hear: flowers respond to pollinator sound within minutes by producing sweeter nectar. Ecology Letters. 22: 1483-1492 (PDF).

​Nguyen, H. M., N. S. Yadav, S. Barak, F. P. Lima, Y. Sapir, and G. Winters. (2020) Responses of invasive and native populations of the seagrass Halophila stipulacea to simulated climate change. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:812.

Roguz, K., M. K. Gallagher, E. Senden, Y. Bar-Lev, M. Lebel, R. Heliczer, and Y. Sapir. (2020) All the Colors of the Rainbow: Diversification of Flower Color and Intraspecific Color Variation in the Genus Iris. Frontiers in Plant Science 11:1519.

Sapir, Y., M. K. Gallagher, & E. Senden (2021) What maintains flower colour variation within populations? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 36:507-519.

Lozada-Gobilard, S., A. Motter, and Y. Sapir. Among-years rain variation is associated with flower size, but not with signal patch size in Iris petrana. Ecology (accepted article e3839).

Osmolovsky, I., M. Shifrin, I. Gamliel, J. Belmaker, and Y. Sapir. 2022. Eco-geography and phenology are the major drivers of reproductive isolation in the Royal Irises, a species complex in the course of speciation. Plants 11:3306



Journal of evolutionary Biology (Associate Editor)

Journal of Pollination Ecology (Associate Editor)


0455162001 - Ecology of Special Plant Groups in the Botanic Gardens 

0411461401 - Advanced Topics in Plant Biology

0411356101  - Pollination Biology 

0455277601 - Scientific literacy


European Society for Evolutionary Biology

Society for Studying Evolution 

Botanical Society of America

Aril Society International


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