Brent D. Mishler
Professor of Integrative Biology
Department of Integrative Biology
(510) 642-6810

Research Expertise and Interest

evolutionary biology, development, ecology, systematics, phylogeny, comparative genomics, green plants, bryophytes, mosses, reproductive biology, phylogenetics, chloroplast DNA, classification, species concepts, biodiversity, Darwin


My research interests can be grouped into two main areas: empirical studies of ecology, phylogeny, systematics, and development of mosses, and the theoretical basis of systematic and evolutionary biology.

Empirical studies include: 

  • The phylogenetic relationships of the major groups of bryophytes and other green plants, using morphological, developmental, and ultrastructural characters as well as chloroplast DNA sequence data.
  • The development of moss peristomes in relation to evolution of the group.
  • Biosystematic studies of the haplolepideous mosses, including the tropical family Calymperaceae and the diverse temperate genus Tortula (Syntrichia), which involve remote-sensing, transplant, and ecological studies in the field, DNA sequencing, comparative physiological measurements, and culture experiments in the lab, and morphological studies in the herbarium.
  • The reproductive biology of bryophytes, especially dryland mosses.
  • The bryophyte flora of California and of Moorea (in the Society Islands of the South Pacific), and Australia.

Theoretical studies include:

  • Investigations of the nature of species, rank-free classification, methods for phylogenetic reconstruction (with an emphasis on cladistic analysis of molecular and genomic data).
  • The relationship between development and evolution, phyloinformatics (comparative genomics, databasing, and visualization of phylogenetic trees).
  • Biodiversity informatics (digitization and databasing of biological collections, and integration with taxonomic, ecological, geographic, and phylogenetic data).

In Research News

June 30, 2015

Humans can’t survive more than a few days without water, but some plants, in particular mosses, can survive drought for decades and suddenly revive with the first rain. KQED’s “Deep Look” team visited UC Berkeley’s University and Jepson Herbaria to learn about these so-called “resurrection plants.”

Using data on Australia’s acacia trees
July 18, 2014

Despite a deluge of new information about the diversity and distribution of plants and animals around the globe, “big data” has yet to make a mark on conservation efforts to preserve the planet’s biodiversity. But that may soon change.

January 7, 2014

The Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley has a big mission: understanding and protecting California’s flora. Given that the state is home to thousands of native plants, nearly 1,500 of which can be found only here, that’s a lot of work for a lot of people with a lot of specialized knowledge. So the Jepson Herbarium has done what comes naturally in order to ensure it will always have the well-trained plant-lovers it needs.

BIDS photo, Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media, and Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Kathryn Huff
December 13, 2013

A throng turned out for Thursday’s high-spirited launch of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. Designed to help researchers across the disciplines harness data in order to spur discoveries and create knowledge, the center for data-related teaching and collaboration will be housed in Doe Library.

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