Oberlin College Biology Department
Moore lab home image

Mike Moore

Associate Professor of Biology

Oberlin College

Science Center K111

(440) 775-6876


Ph.D. University of Texas, 2005

M.S. University of Illinois, 1999

B.S. College of William and Mary, 1995


Recent Publications

Courses Taught

Dr. Michael Moore

Moore Lab Research: Plant Systematics

Research in my lab lies within the field of plant systematics—the study of the origin and evolution of plant diversity.  We are interested in exploring various problems in flowering plant evolution using molecular phylogenetic and phylogeographic approaches. In other words, we reconstruct the evolutionary relationships (phylogeny) among plants by generating and analyzing DNA sequence data for various gene regions. We use these molecular phylogenies to test hypotheses about morphological, ecological, and molecular evolution within the plant groups we are interested in. For example, one of our major current interests is understanding how unusual soils have interacted with past climate changes to influence the diversification of plants in the desert Southwest. This project involves extensive fieldwork to collect leaf samples, which we bring back to Oberlin for molecular analyses. For more on this project, see below.

Systematics incorporates ideas and techniques from across biology, including fields like evolutionary biology, anatomy, ecology, molecular biology, biogeography, and bioinformatics.  Consequently, students in my lab have the opportunity to do fieldwork, labwork, and computational work.

Moore Lab research featured in the video series "Plants Are Cool, Too!"—watch below or read the associated news article:


Watch the following clip to learn a bit more about my research and teaching philosphy:


Moore lab February 2013
The Moore lab crew, Spring semester 2013. (In the tree, left to right) Jonah Joffe, Lila Leatherman, Rebecca Mostow; (Front row, left to right) Mike Moore, Emma Ray, Arianna Goodman, Norm Douglas, James Medina, Spencer Wight, Shiva Mandala.
Moore lab summer 2012
The Moore lab summer 2012 research gang. (Back row, left to right) Mike Moore, Spencer Wight, Trip Freeburg, Norm Douglas; (Front row, left to right) Chloe Drummond, Arianna Goodman, Nidia Mendoza Díaz.
Moore lab spring 2011

Moore Lab, Spring 2011. L to R: (Back row) Jonah Joffe, Heather-Rose Kates, Chloe Drummond, Sophia Weinmann; (Front row) Norm Douglas, Rebecca Mostow, Julia Ruby, Gabe Stalberg, Riva Bruenn, Rachel Plumb, Carolyn Stange, Matt Croley, Liam Sharninghausen, Chris Canning. Not pictured: Kate Hampilos, Flora Samis.


My lab is full of opportunities for the motivated student. Students in the Moore Lab learn many techniques, ranging from DNA isolation to sequence editing/analysis to cloning. In addition to lab work, in summers we often go on expeditions to the desert Southwest to collect plants for our research.










Right: Anna Brunner and Jeffrey Sanders collect gypsum endemic plants at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

Mesa del Yeso
Moore Lab at White Sands Moore Lab in Valley of the Gods, Utah

Joey Charboneau, Anna Brunner, Jeffrey Sanders, and Mike Moore at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Mike Moore, Anna Brunner, Heather-Rose Kates, and Jeffrey Sanders in Valley of the Gods, southeastern Utah

Research in my lab currently focuses on two broad areas:

(1) The Origin and Evolution of Gypsum Endemic Plants in the Chihuahuan Desert

To learn more about my research on gypsum endemism, click here or on the image below:

Chihuahuan Desert

(2) Flowering Plant Phylogenomics

To learn more about my efforts to resolve angiosperm phylogeny, click here or on the image:

plastid genome map


Recent Publications: (*Oberlin undergraduate authors from Moore lab)

Sun, Y., M J. Moore, L. Yue, T. Feng, H. Chu, S. Chen, Y. Ji, H. Wang, and J. Li. In press. Chloroplast phylogeography of the East Asian Arcto-Tertiary relict Tetracentron sinense (Trochodendraceae). Journal of Biogeography.

Drew, B. T., B. R. Ruhfel, S. A. Smith, M. J. Moore, B. G. Briggs, M. A. Gitzendanner, P. S. Soltis, and D. E. Soltis. 2014. Another look at the root of the angiosperms reveals a familiar tale. Systematic Biology Advance Access. [HTML] [PDF]

Uribe-Convers, S., J. R. Duke, M. J. Moore, and D. C. Tank. 2014. A long PCR-based approach for DNA enrichment prior to next-generation sequencing for systematic studies.  Applications in Plant Sciences 2(1): 1300063. [HTML] [PDF]

Sun, Y. X., M. J. Moore, P. S. Soltis, D. E. Soltis, J. Q. Li, and H. C. Wang. 2013. Complete plastid genome sequencing of Trochodendraceae reveals a significant expansion of the Inverted Repeat and suggests a Paleogene divergence between the two extant species. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60429. [HTML] [PDF]

Stull, G. W., M. J. Moore, *V. S. Mandala, N. A. Douglas, H.-R. Kates, X. Qi, S. F. Brockington, P. S. Soltis, D. E. Soltis, and M. A. Gitzendanner.  2013.  A targeted enrichment strategy for massively parallel sequencing of angiosperm plastid genomes.  Applications in Plant Sciences 1(2): 1-7. [HTML] [PDF]

Arakaki, M., P.-A. Christin, R. Nyffeler, A. Lendel, U. Eggli, R. M. Ogburn, E. Spriggs, M. J. Moore, and E. J. Edwards. 2011. Contemporaneous and recent radiations of the world's major succulent plant lineages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108(20): 8379-8384. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., N. Hassan, M. A. Gitzendanner, *R. A. Bruenn, *M. Croley, A. Vandeventer, J. W. Horn, A. Dhingra, S. F. Brockington, M. Latvis, J. Ramdial, R. Alexandre, A. Piedrahita, Z. Xi, C. C. Davis, P. S. Soltis, and D. E. Soltis. 2011. Phylogenetic analysis of the plastid inverted repeat for 244 species: insights into deeper-level angiosperm relationships from a long, slowly evolving sequence region. International Journal of Plant Sciences 172(4): 541-558. [HTML] [PDF]

Soltis, D. E., S. A. Smith, N. Cellinese, K. J. Wurdack, D. C. Tank, S. F. Brockington, N. F. Refulio-Rodriguez, J. B. Walker, M. J. Moore, B. S. Carlsward, C. D. Bell, M. Latvis, S. Crawley, C. Black, D. Diouf, Z. Xi, M. A. Gitzendanner, K. J. Sytsma, Y.-L. Qiu, K. W. Hilu, C. C. Davis, M. J. Sanderson, R. G. Olmstead, W. S. Judd, M. J. Donoghue, and P. S. Soltis. 2011. Angiosperm phylogeny: 17 genes, 640 taxa. American Journal of Botany 98(4): 704-730. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., P. S. Soltis, C. D. Bell, J. G. Burleight, and D. E. Soltis. 2010. Phylogenetic analysis of 83 plastid genes further resolves the early diversification of eudicots. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107(10): 4623-4628. [HTML] [PDF] (Open Access)

Soltis, D. E., M. J. Moore, J. G. Burleigh, C. D. Bell, and P. S. Soltis. 2010. Assembling the angiosperm tree of life: progress and future prospects. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 97(4): 514-526. [HTML] [PDF]

Givnish, T. J., M. Ames, J. R. McNeal, M. R. McKain, P. R. Steele, C. W. dePamphilis, S. W. Graham, J. C. Pires, D. W. Stevenson, W. B. Zomlefer, B. G. Briggs, M. R. Duvall, M. J. Moore, J. M. Heaney, D. E. Soltis, P. S. Soltis, K. Thiele, and J. H. Leebens-Mack. 2010. Assembling the tree of the monocotyledons: Plastome sequence phylogeny and evolution of Poales. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 97(4): 584-616. [HTML] [PDF]

Soltis, D. E., G. Burleigh, W.B. Barbazuk, M. J. Moore, and P. S. Soltis. 2010. Advances in the use of next-generation sequence data in plant systematics and evolution. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 859 (International Symposium on Molecular Markers in Horticulture). [link]

Brockington, S. F., R. Alexandre, J. Ramdial, M. J. Moore, S. Crawley, A. Dhingra, K. Hilu, P. S. Soltis, and D. E. Soltis. 2009. Phylogeny of the Caryophyllales sensu lato: Revisiting hypotheses on pollination biology and perianth differentiation in the core Caryophyllales. International Journal of Plant Sciences 170(5): 627-643. [HTML] [PDF]

Soltis, D. E., M. J. Moore, J. G. Burleigh, and P. S. Soltis 2009. Molecular markers and concepts of plant evolutionary relationships: progress, promise, and future prospects. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 28(1-2): 1-15. [HTML/PDF]

Wang, H., M. J. Moore, P. S. Soltis, C. D. Bell, S. F. Brockington, R. Alexandre, C. C. Davis, M. Latvis, S. R. Manchester, and D. E. Soltis. 2009. Rosid radiation and the rapid rise of angiosperm-dominated forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106(10): 3853-3858. [HTML] [PDF]

Soltis, P. S., S. F. Brockington, M.-J. Yoo, A. Piedrahita, M. Latvis, M. J. Moore, A. S. Chanderbali, and D. E. Soltis. 2009. Floral variation and floral genetics in basal angiosperms. American Journal of Botany 96(1): 110-128. [HTML] [PDF]

Neubig, K. M., W. M. Whitten, B. S. Carlsward, M. A. Blanco, L. Endara, N. H. Williams, and M. J. Moore. 2009. Phylogenetic utility of ycf1 in orchids: a plastid gene more variable than matK. Plant Systematics and Evolution 277 (1-2): 75-84. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J. 2009. Angiosperm phylogenetics. McGraw-Hill 2009 Yearbook of Science & Technology. McGraw-Hill, New York. [HTML]

Jian, S., P. S. Soltis, M. A. Gitzendanner, M. J. Moore, R. Li, T. A. Hendry, Y.-L. Qiu, A. Dhingra, C. D. Bell, and D. E. Soltis.  2008.  Resolving an ancient, rapid radiation in Saxifragales.  Systematic Biology 57(1): 38-57. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., C. D. Bell, P. S. Soltis, and D. E. Soltis.  2007.  Using plastid genome-scale data to resolve enigmatic relationships among basal angiosperms.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104(49):  19363-19368. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., and R. K. Jansen.  2007.  Origins and biogeography of gypsophily in the Chihuahuan Desert plant group Tiquilia subg. Eddya (Boraginaceae).  Systematic Botany 32(2): 392-414. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., A. Dhingra, P. S. Soltis, R. Shaw, W. G. Farmerie, K. M. Folta, and D. E. Soltis.  2006.  Rapid and accurate pyrosequencing of angiosperm plastid genomes.  BMC Plant Biology 6:  17. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., A. Tye, and R. K. Jansen.  2006.  Patterns of long-distance dispersal in Tiquilia subg. Tiquilia (Boraginaceae):  implications for the origins of amphitropical disjuncts and Galápagos Islands endemics.  American Journal of Botany 93(8):  1163-1177. [HTML] [PDF]

Moore, M. J., and R. K. Jansen.  2006.  Molecular evidence for the age, origin, and evolutionary history of the American desert plant genus Tiquilia (Boraginaceae).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39(3):  668-687. [HTML] [PDF]


Courses Taught

Every fall semester I co-teach the introductory Biology majors course, Organismal Biology (BIOL 100), with the inestimable Dr. Yolanda Cruz. This course introduces students to the basics of how plants and animals work, from the level of the genome all the way up to that of the whole organism. Along the way we compare and contrast how plants and animals deal with the basic needs of survival. As you might expect, I handle the plant parts of the course, whereas Ms. Cruz teaches the animal parts. Aside from the actual biology component of the course, BIOL 100 is designed to prepare students for the rigors of upper-level Biology and Neuroscience courses. If you have questions about the course, including whether or not you should take it if you have been exempted from the course due to AP credit, please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you are interested in learning more about plant diversity and/or about the systematic and phylogenetic methods we use to understand organismal diversity, you might consider taking my spring semester course, Plant Systematics (BIOL 227).  Although the focus of the course is on flowering plants, the concepts and methods that students learn are applicable to most organisms.  We cover a wide range of topics, including morphology, taxonomy, nomenclature, phylogenetic methods and theory, biogeography, speciation, hybridization, and character evolution.  The lab portion of the course involves significant field and lab components.  During the first part of the semester we focus on the techniques used in systematic studies, in particular those having to do with molecular phylogenetics.  Students complete a project that is designed to take them through much of the process of a phylogenetic study, including both labwork (DNA isolation, PCR, DNA sequencing) and computer work (sequence editing and alignment, as well as the different methods of phylogenetic analysis).  We also spend some hands-on time learning about the phylogenetic diversity of plants.  Once the long Oberlin winter breaks, we head outside and learn more about plant diversity, including important plants of the Ohio flora.

Occasionally I also teach a First-Year Seminar entitled The Sixth Extinction: Problems and Prospects in Biodiversity Conservation (FYSP 194).  In this course we explore the challenges and opportunities surrounding the conservation of biodiversity using readings from a wide variety of sources.  Among the topics we discuss are the value of biodiversity, the impacts of legislation and private property on biodiversity, the ramifications of ethical dilemmas in conservation management, the feasibility of saving species and restoring degraded habitat, and ways to encourage participation in biodiversity conservation.  We also go on several weekend afternoon field trips to sites of local conservation interest.  Some of the places we have visited in the past include Castalia Prairie (the best remaining example of tallgrass prairie in Ohio), Edison Woods (the largest remaining forest in northern Ohio), and NASA Plum Brook Station (which contains around 6000 acres of actively managed forest, prairie, and savanna).


Last updated on April 14, 2014

All images are the copyright of Michael J. Moore