Kenneth M. Cameron

Ken Cameron

Professor of Botany & Director, WI State Herbarium (WIS)
154 Birge Hall
Ph.D. (1996) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Systematics & Evolution of Orchidaceae, Smilacaceae, & tropical monocots; comparative morphology / anatomy, DNA barcoding, floristics, conservation
Cameron's Lab

I serve as Director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium (WIS), a collection of >1.2 million specimens, which is where much of my research is based.  However, my primary laboratory research interests focus on the systematics, evolution, structure, and conservation of orchids (Orchidaceae) based on integrated studies carried out in the field, herbarium, library, and laboratory. Collaborating with others, I continue to use genomic data to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of orchids with the ultimate goal of producing a robust and stable system of classification for this diverse and charismatic family. My work has contributed extensively to our fundamental knowledge of orchid biology, but I consider myself a specialist on the orchid subfamily Vanilloideae. This ancient clade includes the only orchid of agricultural value, Vanilla, and is pivotal to the study of orchid evolution; several vanilloid orchids are partially or fully mycoheterotrophic and can no longer photosynthesize on their own.

In addition to orchids, I have published studies on the systematics, biogeography, character evolution, and classification of other equally fascinating plant groups such as Smilacaceae, Malpighiaceae, Cactaceae, Droseraceae, and Lentibulariaceae. My fieldwork has taken me from Mexico to Ecuador, from Tasmania to Borneo, and from China to New Caledonia, but some of the most memorable plant collecting trips have taken place right here in the United States. I am passionate about all aspects of plant biology, and eager to share that passion with fellow scientists, students, and the public alike.

I usually teach General Botany (Botany 130) during the Fall semester of odd-numbered years, and Plant Morphology & Evolution (Botany 305) during the Spring semester of odd-numbered years.  I also co-teach the graduate level Plant Systematics & Evolution Seminar (Botany 940) and supervise hard working undergraduate research scholars in my lab as Directed Study (Botany 699) students each semester. 

Dr. Cameron's CV 

SELECT PUBLICATIONS (for updates please consult Google Scholar):

Orchidaceae: General Systematics Studies
Chase, MW, KM Cameron, JV Freudenstein, AM Pridgeon, G Salazar, C Van DenBerg, & A Schuiteman.  2015.  An updated classification of Orchidaceae.  Bot J Linn Soc. 177: 151-174.

Givnish, TJ, D Spalink, M Ames, SP Lyon, SJ Hunter, A Zuluaga, W Iles, MA Clements, MTK Arroyo, J Leebens-Mack, L Endara, KM Neubig, WM Whitten, NH Williams, & KM Cameron. 2015. Phylogenomics of orchids and multiple drivers of their extraordinary diversification. Proceedings of the Royal Society. Seies B. 282: 20151553 (10 pages).

Cameron, K. M. 2011. A look at ‘the orchid book’ in celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. Lankesteriana 11(3): 223-231.

Cameron, K. M. 2010. On the value of taxonomy, phylogeny, and systematics to orchid conservation: implications for China’s Yachang Orchid Reserve.  Botanical Review 76: 165-173.

Yam, T. W., J. Arditti, and K. M. Cameron. 2009. The orchids have been a splendid sport, an alternative look at Charles Darwin’s contribution to orchid biology. American Journal of Botany 96(12): 1–27.

Cameron, K., J. Arditti, and T. Kull (editors). 2007. Orchid Biology Reviews and Perspectives, Vol. 9. The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, New York.

Cameron, K. December 2007. Molecular phylogenetics of Orchidaceae: the first decade of DNA sequencing. Pages 163- 200 In: J. Arditti, T. Kull, and K. Cameron (eds.), Orchid Biology Reviews and Perspectives, Vol. IX. The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, New York.

Cameron, K. 2006. A comparison of plastid atpB and rbcL gene sequences for inferring phylogenetic relationships within Orchidaceae. pp. 447-464. In J. T. Columbus, E. A. Friar, J. M. Porter, L. M. Prince, and M. G. Simpson [eds.]. Monocots: comparative biology and evolution, 2 vols. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, California, USA.

Cameron, K. M. 2005. Orchidaceae [27 generic treatments in Spanish]. In: P. Sklena, J. L. Luteyn, C. U. Ulloa, P. M. Jorgensen, and M. O. Dillon (co-authors), Flora Generica de los Paramos: Guia Illustrada de las Plantas Vasculares, pp. 333-352. Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden Vol. 92, The New York Botanical Garden Press, New York.

Cameron, K. M. 2004. Utility of plastid psaB gene sequences for investigating intrafamilial relationships within Orchidaceae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31: 1157-1180.

Chase, M. W., J. F. Freudenstein, and K. M. Cameron. 2003. DNA Data and Orchidaceae systematics: a new phylogenetic classification. Pages 69-89 In: K. W. Dixon, S. P. Kell, R. L. Barrett, & P. J. Cribb (eds.), Orchid Conservation. Natural History Publications, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Cameron, K., M. Chase, M. Whitten, P. Kores, D. Jarrell, V. Albert, T. Yukawa, H. Hills, and D. Goldman. 1999. A phylogenetic analysis of the Orchidaceae: evidence from rbcL nucleotide sequences. American Journal of Botany 86: 208-224.

Orchidaceae: Vanilloideae
Cameron, K. M. 2011.  Vanilla Orchids: Natural History and Cultivation. 212 pages.  Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Cameron, K. M. 2011. Vanilla Phylogeny and Classification, pp. 243-255 in Handbook of Vanilla Science and Technology (edited by D. Havkin-Frenkel), Wiley Blackwell.

Cameron, K. M. 2011. Vanilloid orchids: systematics and evolution, pp. 1-13, In: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Vol 47, Vanilla, E. Odoux and M. Grisoni, eds. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida.

Cameron, K. 2009.  On the value of nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences for reconstructing the phylogeny of vanilloid orchids (Vanilloideae, Orchidaceae).  Annals of Botany 104: 277-385.

Lubinsky, P., K. Cameron, S. Lepers-Andrzejewski, M. Wong, M. del Carmen Molina, A. Gómez-Pompa, and S.-C. Kim. 2008. Neotropical roots of a Polynesian spice: the hybrid origin of Tahitian vanilla, Vanilla tahitensis (Orchidaceae). American Journal of Botany. 95(8): 1040-1047.

Cameron, K. and M. Carmen Molina. 2006. Photosystem II gene sequences of psbB and psbC clarify the phylogenetic position of Vanilla (Vanilloideae, Orchidaceae). Cladistics 22: 239-248.

Cameron, K. 2003. Vanilloideae [15 generic treatments]. In A. Pridgeon, P. Cribb, M. Chase, and F. Rasmussen (eds.), Genera Orchidacearum vol 3, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Cameron, K. and M. Chase. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships of Pogoniinae (Vanilloideae, Orchidaceae): an herbaceous example of the eastern North America-eastern Asia phytogeographic disjunction. Journal of Plant Research 112: 317-329.

Cameron, K. and W. Dickison. 1998. Foliar architecture of vanilloid orchids: insights into the evolution of reticulate leaf venation in monocotyledons. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 128: 45-70.

Orchidaceae: Orchidoideae
Dueck, L., D. Aygoren, and K. Cameron. 2014.  A Molecular Framework for Understanding the Phylogeny of Spiranthes (Orchidaceae), a Cosmopolitan Genus with a North American Center of Diversity. American Journal of Botany 101(9): 1-21.

Alvarez-Molina, A. and K. M. Cameron. 2009. Molecular Phylogeny of Prescottiinae s.l. and their close allies (Orchidaceae, Cranichideae) inferred from chloroplast and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences.  American Journal of Botany 96: 1020-1040.

Dueck, L. and K. Cameron. 2008. Molecular evidence on the species status and phylogenetic relationships of Spiranthes parksii, an endangered orchid from Texas. Conservation Genetics 9:1617–1631.

Brown, P. M. B, L. A. Dueck, and K. M. Cameron. 2008. Spiranthes stellata (Orchidaceae), a new species of ladies'-tresses from the western United States.  North American Native Orchid Journal 14(1): 3-21.

Orchidaceae: Epidendroideae
Arévalo, R., G. Carnevali Fernandez-Concha, & K. Cameron. 2015. Three new species of Mormolyca (Orchidaceae; Maxillariinae) with an updated molecular phylogeny. Systematic Botany 40(3): 692-705.

Arevalo, R., E. Christenson, and K. Cameron. 2013. Three new species of Ornithidium and Maxillaria (Maxillariinae) from Colombia: Recent discoveries from the Cordillera Occidental of the Colombian Andes.  Orchids.82:44-48

Leathers, J., G. Meyer, J. Parker, and K. Cameron. 2008. The Genus Dracula. Orchid Digest 72(4): 244-255.

Cameron, K. 2005. Leave it to the leaves: a molecular phylogenetic study of Malaxideae (Orchidaceae). American Journal of Botany 92(6): 1025-1032.

Smilacaceae / Smilax
Qi, Z., K. M. Cameron, P. Li, Y. Zhao, S. Chen, G. Chen, and C. Fu. 2013. Phylogenetics, character evolution, and distribution patterns of the greenbriers, Smilacaceae (Liliales), a near-cosmopolitan family of monocots.  Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 173(4): 535–548.

Li, P., M Li, Y Shi, YP Zhao, Y Wan, CX Fu, and KM Cameron. 2013. Phylogeography of North American herbaceous Smilax (Smilacaceae): combined AFLP and cpDNA data support a northern refugium in the Driftless Area.  American Journal of Botany 100: 801-814.

Zhao, Yunpeng; Ma, Weiwei; Dai, Qiongyan; Qi, Zhechen; Li, Pan; Cameron, Kenneth; Lee, Joongku; Xiang, Jenny; Fu, Cheng-Xin. 2013. Comparative phylogeography of the Smilax hispida group (Smilacaceae) in eastern Asia and North America--implications for allopatric speciation, causes of diversity disparity, and origins of temperate elements in Mexico. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 68:300-311

Li, P., Z. Qi, S. Chen, K. Cameron, & C.-X. Fu. 2011.  Smilax ligneoriparia sp. nov., a link between herbaceous and woody Smilax (Smilacaceae) based on morphology, chromosome and molecular data.  Taxon 60:1104-1112.

Cameron, K. and C. Fu. 2006. A nuclear rDNA phylogeny of Smilax (Smilacaceae). Pp. 598-605. In J. T. Columbus, E. A. Friar, J. M. Porter, L. M. Prince, and M. G. Simpson [eds.]. Monocots: comparative biology and evolution, 2 vols. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, California, USA.

Chen, S.-C. Y.-X. Qiu, A.-L. Wang, K. M. Cameron, and C.-X. Fu. 2006. A phylogenetic analysis of the Smilacaceae based on morphological data. Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica 44: 113-125.

Fu, C., H. Kong, Y. Qiu and K. Cameron. 2005. A molecular phylogenetic study of the herbaceous, east asian-north american disjunct species of Smilax sect. Nemexia (Smilacaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 166(2): 301-309.

Cacti & Succulents
Arias, S.,T. Terrazas, H. J. Arreola-Nava, M.Vazquez-Sanchez, and K. M. Cameron. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships in Peniocereus (Cactaceae) inferred from plastid DNA sequence data. Journal of Plant Research 118: 317-328.

Acevedo-Rosas, R., K. Cameron, V. Sosa, and S. Pell. 2004. A molecular phylogenetic study of Graptopetalum (Crassulaceae) based on ETS, ITS, rpl16 and trnL-F nucleotide sequences. American Journal of Botany 91: 1099-1104.

Arias, S., T. Terrazas, and K. Cameron. 2003. Phylogenetic analysis of Pachycereus (Cactaceae, Pachycereeae) based on chloroplast and nuclear DNA data. Systematic Botany 28: 547-557.

Carnivorous Plants
Jobson, R., J. Playford, K. Cameron, and V. Albert. 2003. Molecular phylogenetics of Lentibulariaceae inferred from plastid rps16 intron and trnL-F DNA sequences: implications for character evolution and biogeography. Systematic Botany 28: 157-171.

Cameron, K., K. Wurdack, and R. Jobson. 2002. Aldrovanda is sister to Dionaea: molecular evidence for the common origin of snap-traps among carnivorous plants. American Journal of Botany 89: 1503-1509. [featured as a "News of the Week" story in Pennisi, E. 2002. Elaborate carnivores prove to be kin. Science 297: 1626.]

Other Botanical Studies 
Shi, S., Y. Sun, L. Wei, XF. Lei, K. M.Cameron, & CX. Fu. 2014. Plastid DNA sequence data help to clarify phylogenetic relationships and reticulate evolution in Lycoris (Amaryllidaceae).  Bot J Linnean Society 176(2): 115-126.

CBOL Plant Working Group: 2009. Botanists Recommend a DNA Barcode for Land Plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(31): 12794-12797.

Fine, P., D. Daly, F. G. Villa M., Y Mesones A., and K. Cameron. 2005. The contribution of edaphic heterogeneity to the evolution and diversity of Burseraceae trees in the western amazon. Evolution 59: 1464-1478.

Daly, D., K. Cameron, and D. Stevenson. 2001. Plant systematics in the age of genomics. Plant Physiology 127: 1328-1333.

Cameron, K., M. Chase, W. Anderson, and H. Hills. 2001. Molecular Systematics of Malpighiaceae: evidence from plastid rbcL and matK sequences. American Journal of Botany 88: 1847-1862.

Cameron, K. 2002 [April 2003]. On the phylogenetic position of the New Caledonian endemic families Strasbergeriaceae, Oncothecaceae, and Paracryphiaceae: a comparison of molecules and morphology. The Botanical Review 68(4): 428-443.

Cameron, K., M. Chase, and P. Rudall. 2003. Re-circumscription of the monocotyledonous family Petrosaviaceae to include Japonolirion. Brittonia 55(2): 211-222.