Dr. Yuval Sapir

School of Plant Sciences and Food Security
ביה"ס למדעי הצמח ואבטחת מזון סגל אקדמי בכיר
Dr. Yuval Sapir
Phone: 03-6407354
Another phone: 03-6409910
Office: Botanical Gardens, 06


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 master’s 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 a 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. His current research interests include the evolution of plants under climate changes, ecological speciation of Oncocyclus irises, and the effect of pollinators' behavior on the evolution of flowers.



Period Degree Institute Faculty/Department
1997 B.Sc. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Biology
1999 M.Sc. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Evolution, Systematics and Ecology
2004 Ph.D. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Evolution, Systematics and Ecology
2006 BARD Post Doctoral fellow Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA -


Academic Position:

Period Rank/Function School/Department Institute
2009 Director Botanical Garden Tel Aviv University
2013-2018 Senior Lecturer School of Plant Sciences Tel Aviv University
Since 2018 Curator of Herbarium Steinhardt Museum of Natural History Tel Aviv University

Research Interests

Our main interest is in the evolutionary ecology of plants, which is the interface between environmental factors and genetics. Ever since Darwin, scientists have wondered about the role of ecological factors as agents of natural selection in evolution. Our research objective is to uncover the genetic mechanisms governing plant’s adaptations and its ecological interactions, and how phenotypic selection drives evolution. We are studying adaptations of plants to biotic and abiotic factors, as well as adaptive species divergence and ecological speciation. Major research topics include pollination biology and flower evolution, adaptation to climate and conservation biology. We combine multiple biological levels, from gene to population to species, in order to reveal a broad view on the evolutionary process. We use molecular and ecological methods in model and non-model plants, in order to understand the source of the vast diversity, and the astonishing beauty, of plants.

 Research interests include:

  • Plant-pollinator interactions and flower evolution
  • Genetic basis of, and selection on signaling of flowers
  • Macro-evolution, taxonomy of plants and speciation
  • Conservation biology of endangered plants.
  • Botanical art
  • Economy of conservation

Recent Publications

Selected Publications (last 5 years):

* Student’s paper


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


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


Yardeni*, G., N. Tessler, E. Imbert and Y. Sapir. (2016) Reproductive isolation between populations of Iris atropurpurea is associated with ecological differentiation. Annals of Botany 118:971-982.


Bigio*, L., M. Lebel* and Y. Sapir. (2016) Do different measures of maternal fitness affect estimation of natural selection on floral traits? A lesson from Linum pubescens (Linaceae). Journal of Plant Ecology 10:406-413.


Sapir, Y. (2017) Pollinator-mediated selection is better detected when controlling for resource limitation. Functional Ecology 31:7-8.


Sapir, Y. and M. Ghara*. (2017) The (relative) importance of pollinator-mediated selection for evolution of flowers. American Journal of Botany. 104: 1787-1789.


Souto-Vilarós, D., A. Vuleta, S. Manitasević Jovanović, S. Radović, H. Wang, Y. Sapir and E. Imbert. (2018) A test for pollinator-mediated selection on flower colour and size in two deceptive- pollinated dwarf bearded Iris species. Oikos 127: 834–846


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.


Shemesh, H., G. Shani*, Y. Carmel, R. Kent and Y. Sapir. (2018) To mix or not to mix the sources of relocated plants? The case of the endangered Iris lortetii. Journal of Nature Conservation 45: 41-47.


Nguyen Manh*, H., Y. Sapir and G. Winters. (2019) Differences in flowering sex ratios between native and invasive populations of the seagrass Halophila stipulacea. Botanica Marina (DOI: 10.1515/bot-2018-0015).


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. (2018) Plants can hear: flowers respond to pollinator sound within minutes by producing sweeter nectar. Ecology Letters 22:1483-1492.


Penner*, S., B. Dror*, I. Aviezer*, Y. Bar-Lev*, T. Mandakova, P. Šmarda, I. Mayrose and Y. Sapir. (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).


Nguyen Manh*, H., 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 (in press).





Deciding Editor, Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

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