Dr. Lena Hileman

Lena Hileman
  • Professor
  • Chair of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Department Phone:
University of Kansas
1200 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66045-7534


Dr. Lena Hileman's research focuses on understanding the evolution of plant development with a focus on floral diversification.


Why is there such an amazing diversity of flower form? One reason is that flowers have been shaped over evolutionary time by selective pressures imposed through plant-pollinator interactions. However, in order for different floral forms to evolve, changes must occur in the underlying genetic programs that specify flower developmental patterning. The aim of my research program is to determine how developmental programs have evolved to pattern differences in flower form between species; for example, through changes in gene number, gene expression, or protein function. This field of research is called developmental evolution or "evo-devo". To address questions of flower developmental evolution, we take a number of diverse approaches including phylogenetic studies, molecular developmental genetic approaches, and studies of molecular evolution.

Research interests:

  • Flower development and evolution
  • evolution of developmental gene networks
  • parallel evolution
  • epigenetic inheritance of ecologically important traits

Selected Publications

Wessinger, Carolyn A, Craig C Freeman, Mark E Mort, Mark D Rausher, and Lena C Hileman. “Multiplexed Shotgun Genotyping Resolves Species Relationships within the North American Genus Penstemon.” Journal Articles. American Journal of Botany 103, no. 5 (10, 2016): 912–22. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1500519.
O’Meara, Brian C, Stacey D Smith, W. Scott Armbruster, Lawrence D Harder, Christopher R Hardy, Lena C Hileman, Larry Hufford, et al. “Non-Equilibrium Dynamics and Floral Trait Interactions Shape Extant Angiosperm Diversity.” Journal Articles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283, no. 1830 (11, 2016). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.2304.
Wessinger, Carolyn A, and Lena C Hileman. “Accessibility, Constraint, and Repetition in Adaptive Floral Evolution.” Journal Articles. Developmental Biology, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.05.003.
Preston, J C, S A Jorgensen, R Orozco, and L C Hileman. “Paralogous SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE (SPL) Genes Differentially Regulate Leaf Initiation and Reproductive Phase Change in Petunia.” Journal Articles. Planta, September 7, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00425-015-2413-2.
Colicchio, J M, F Miura, J K Kelly, T Ito, and L C Hileman. “DNA Methylation and Gene Expression in Mimulus Guttatus.” Journal Articles. BMC Genomics 16 (June 7, 2015): 507. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-015-1668-0.
Colicchio, J M, P J Monnahan, J K Kelly, and L C Hileman. “Gene Expression Plasticity Resulting from Parental Leaf Damage in Mimulus Guttatus.” Journal Articles. New Phytologist 205, no. 2 (January 2015): 894–906. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.13081.
Wessinger, C A, L C Hileman, and M D Rausher. “Identification of Major Quantitative Trait Loci Underlying Floral Pollination Syndrome Divergence in Penstemon.” Journal Articles. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 369, no. 1648 (July 5, 2014). https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0349.
Hileman, L. C. “Bilateral Flower Symmetry – How, When and Why?” Journal Articles. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 17 (2014): 146–52.
Preston, J C, L L Barnett, M A Kost, N J Oborny, and L C Hileman. “Optimization of Virus-Induced Gene Silencing to Facilitate Evo-Devo Studies in the Emerging Model Species Mimulus Guttatus DC. (Phrymaceae).” Journal Articles. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 99 (2014): 301–12. https://doi.org/10.3417/2010120.
Hileman, L C. “Trends in Flower Symmetry Evolution Revealed through Phylogenetic and Developmental Genetic Advances.” Journal Articles. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 369 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0348.
Brockington, S F, R Alvarez-Fernandez, J B Landis, K Alcorn, R W Walker, M M Thomas, L C Hileman, and B J Glover. “Evolutionary Analysis of the MIXTA Gene Family Highlights Potential Targets for the Study of Cellular Differentiation.” Journal Articles. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30 (2013): 526–40.
Preston, J C, and L C Hileman. “Functional Evolution in the Plant SQUAMOSA-PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE (SPL) Gene Family.” Journal Articles. Frontiers in Plant Science 4 (2013): 80. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2013.00080.
Landis, J B, L L Barnett, and L C Hileman. “Evolution of Petaloid Sepals Independent of Shifts in B-Class MADS Box Gene Expression.” Journal Articles. Development, Genes and Evolution 222 (2012): 19–28.
Preston, J C, and L C Hileman. “Parallel Evolution of TCP and B-Class Genes in Commelinaceae Flower Bilateral Symmetry.” Journal Articles. EvoDevo 3 (2012): 6.
Scoville, A G, L L Barnett, S Bodbyl-Roels, J K Kelly, and L C Hileman. “Differential Regulation of a MYB Transcription Factor Is Correlated with Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance of Trichome Density in Mimulus Guttatus.” Journal Articles. New Phytologist 191, no. 1 (2011): 251–63.
Preston, J C, C C Martinez, and L C Hileman. “Gradual Disintegration of the Floral Symmetry Gene Network Is Implicated in the Evolution of a Wind-Pollination Syndrome.” Journal Articles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108, no. 6 (2011): 2343–48.
Preston, J C, L C Hileman, and P Cubas. “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: Developmental Evolution of Trait Diversification.” Journal Articles. American Journal of Botany 98 (2011): 397–403.
Preston, J C, and L C Hileman. “SQUAMOSA-PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN 1 Initiates Flowering in Antirrhinum Majus through the Activation of Meristem Identity Genes.” Journal Articles. The Plant Journal 62 (2010): 704–12.
Preston, J C, M A Kost, and L C Hileman. “Conservation and Diversification of the Symmetry Developmental Program among Close Relatives of Snapdragon with Divergent Floral Morphologies.” Journal Articles. New Phytologist 182, no. 3 (2009): 751–62.