Sabine Hennequin
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Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

Since 2008    Post-doctoral researcher, NHM London, UK 

Project: Investigating the fern diversity of the Mascarene Islands
Supervisor: H. Schneider

2005-2007    Post-doctoral researcher, Duke University, USA 

Project: Molecular rate heterogeneity and evolutionary history in the Hymenophyllaceae
Supervisor: K Pryer

2003-2005    Temporary lecturer (ATER ), Université Paris 6, France 

Research project: Systematics and evolution of the fern family Hymenophyllaceae
Teaching: Lectures, lab works, field courses and exams in plant biology and systematics, plant ecology, evolution and phylogeny

2005    Assistant in databasing - Réseau Tela Botanica, Paris, France 

Data collect and development of a database of pines in France

1999-2004    Ph.D. Université Paris 6, France 

Project: Phylogenetic systematics of the fern genus Hymenophyllum (Hymenophyllaceae)
Supervisor: J.-Y. Dubuisson



2004 Ph.D. Thesis in Botany, Université Paris 6, France, with the mention "Très Honorable" 

1999 M. Sci. Biology and ecology program, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

1997 B. Sci. Population and organisms biology programme, Université Paris 6, France

Professional Roles


British Council Darwin Now Award to conduct fieldwork in Reunion and Mauritius (2009)

Edgar T. Wherry award for the best contributed paper, pteridological session, "Botany 2001", Botanical Society of America


Synthesys grant to conduct molecular biology lab work at the Natural History Museum, London (6 weeks- 2008).

NEScent funding (National Evolutionary Synthesys Center) for a short visit to Duke University (2007).

Post-doctoral research conducted at Duke University funded by an NSF CAREER grant attributed to Kathleen Pryer (DEB-0347840) (2005-2007)

Grant from the Linnean Society of London (Palaeobotany Specialist Group) for the participation to the symposium A life of ferns and gymnosperms, Montpellier (2006)

Grant from the French Ministry of Foreign Affaires for the participation to the international symposium "Ferns for the 21st century", Edinburgh, July 2004

Funding from the IFR 101 "Ecologie Fondamentale et Appliquée" and 1541 "Systématique" for molecular sequencing, a symposium in the US (2001) and field work in La Réunion (2002)

SYS-RESOURCE grant (European Commission's Improving Human Potential (IHP) Programme) for a stay at the Natural History Museum, London, and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK (2000)

External collaborations

Jean-Yves Dubuisson, UMR 5143 Paléobiodiversité et Paléoenvironnements, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6), France

Atsushi Ebihara, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba, Japan

Kathleen Pryer, Duke University, NC, USA

Germinal Rouhan, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France 


Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (2008-2010)



Hennequin S. Phylogénie et évolution chez les Hymenophyllaceae. Seminar "les jeudis d’Amap", Montpellier, 18 march 2008.

Hennequin S. Systematics and evolution in the filmy fern family, with special reference to Hymenophyllum. Botany Department seminar, Natural History Museum, London, UK, 6 february 2008

Dubuisson J.-Y., Reeb C., Hennequin S., Dajoz I. Hymenophyllaceae guild diversity and structure in Guadeloupe and La Réunion rainforests: comparative ecological and historical approaches. Botany 2006 , "Ecology of ferns" symposium, Chico, CA, USA, 28 July-3 August 2006.

Hennequin S., Pryer K., Schuettpelz E. & Dubuisson J.-Y. Investigating molecular rate heterogeneity and epiphytism diversification in the filmy ferns family. A life of ferns and gymnosperms, Montpellier, 6-8 April 2006.

Hennequin S., Pryer K., Schuettpelz E. & Dubuisson J.-Y. Fast and slow filmy ferns: molecular rate heterogeneity a chloroplast-wide phenomenon in the Hymenophyllaceae. XVII International Botanical Congress, Vienna, Autriche, 17-23 July 2005.

Hennequin S., Ebihara A., Ito M., Iwatsuki K., & Dubuisson J.-Y. Phylogenetic systematics and evolution of the genus Hymenophyllum (Hymenophyllaceae: Pteridophyta), contributed paper, Ferns for the 21st century, Edinburgh, UK, July 12-16, 2004.

Hennequin S. Phylogeny of Hymenophyllum s.l.: implications for morphology evolution and biogeography. Seminar of the Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham (NC, USA), August 2003.

Hennequin S. & Dubuisson J.-Y. Systematics of the fern genus Hymenophyllum s.l. (Hymenophyllaceae) inferred from rbcL and rps4 nucleotide sequences and morphology, contributed paper awarded, "Botany 2001" symposium, "Plants and People", Albuquerque, NM, USA, August 12-16, 2001, Abstracts n°342, p. 85.



I am particularly interested in studying evolutionary patterns and processes in seed-free plants. This involves reconstructing evolutionary relationships between lineages, or phylogenies, which can be used to understand morphological evolution, biogeography and adaptation to particular habitats. I am currently  focused on a main project addressing the fern diversity in the Mascarenes islands, where both macroevolutionary and microevolutionary speciation processes are investigated. But different other subjects, all related to fern evolution, draw my attention.

Current project

Investigating the fern diversity of the Mascarene Islands using phylogenetic and phylogeographic approaches

This study focuses on the Mascarenes Islands, which together with Madagascar and several other smaller islands form the South West Indian Ocean hotspot of biodiversity and endemism. The objectives of this study are twofold: to investigate the patterns of fern diversification in the Mascarenes Islands, and to identify the processes creating this diversity. I particularly focus on two genera that are shown to have radiated on these islands: Asplenium and Cyathea.


Cyathea excelsa

Cyathea excelsa Sw. in La Reunion, an emblematic tree fern endemic to the Mascarenes © E. Grangaud

Asplenium daucifolium

Asplenium daucifolium var. lineatum (Sw.) C.V. Morton, with propagules developing on the leaves © C. Chaussidon

Other projects

Phylogenetic systematics, morphological and chromosomal evolution, and biogeography of the fern genus Hymenophyllum (Hymenophyllaceae)

The Hymenophyllaceae, or filmy ferns, are typically recognized by their very thin leaves and marginal sori. During my Ph.D. I studied one genus of the family, Hymenophyllum, which contains approximately 300 species. Based on the phylogeny inferred, a new classification for the genus was proposed. I was also especially interested in the evolution of morphological characters within the genus, and deciphering its complex biogeographical history is still underway.This requires broadening the taxon sampling of the inferred phylogeny and acquiring nuclear markers. I am also currently drawing my attention to the issue of  chromosome numbers evolution in the genus, where very variable numbers are reported with n = 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 21, 22, 26, 28, 36.

Molecular rate heterogeneity and evolutionary history in the Hymenophyllaceae

This project targets molecular rate heterogeneity between the two lineages of Hymenophyllaceae: hymenophylloids (= Hymenophyllum) and trichomanoids. We demonstrated that there is a slow-down in the molecular evolutionary rate in the hymenophylloids, and that this phenomenon occurs at the chloroplast level, but also seems to take place on the mitochondrion and nuclear levels. With a view to understanding the causes for this deceleration of rate, I investigated the evolutionary history in the family by estimating divergence times and by reconstructing the evolution of the different habitats found in the family (terrestrial, hemiepiphytic and epiphytic).

Diversity and structure in hygrophilous forests from La Reunion and Guadeloupe

This project aims at understanding the ecological and historical parameters underlying the structure and diversity of hygrophilous forest in the two french islands of La Reunion and Guadeloupe. Filmy ferns are quite common in hygrophilous forests of  these two geographical areas, and make an useful study group in order to compare both regions. I am still contributing to this project conducted by Jean-Yves Dubuisson, University Paris 6.

Fern systematics

In relation to my project on the ferns from the Mascarene Islands, I am interested in reconstructing the evolutionary relationships of two main groups which are present of the islands and whose taxonomy is still to decipher. These are Nephrolepis, a worldwide genus of 19 species, 5 of them are reported for the Mascarenes, and the Thelypteridaceae, a very broad family with 20 species (belonging to 9 different genera) occurring in the Mascarenes.


Teacher in Botany - IFIIP Nanterre, France    2006-2007

Full preparation and organization of a botany-course (77h): lectures, lab works, exams

Temporary lecturer (ATER) - Université Paris 6, France    2003-2005

Lectures, lab works, field courses and exams in plant biology and systematics, plant ecology, evolution and phylogeny. B. Sci. and Master Sci.

Teacher in informatics - Université Paris 7, France   2000-2003

Lab works and exams on Word, Excel and internet, 1st year bachelor degree.

Student training

Master and B. Sci. students at the Laboratoire de Paléobotanique et Paléoécologie, Paris 6


  • Dubuisson J.-Y., Schneider, H. & Hennequin S ( 2009 ) Epiphytism in ferns: diversity and history C. R. Biologies 332 : 120-128 . doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2008.08.018
  • Hennequin S., Pryer K., Schuettpelz E., Ebihara, A. & Dubuisson J.-Y ( 2008 ) Divergence times and the evolution of epiphytism in filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae) revisited International Journal of Plant Sciences 169 : 1278-1287 . doi:10.1086/591983
  • Ebihara A., Iwatsuki K., Hennequin S., Ito M. & Dubuisson J.-Y ( 2007 ) Phylogeny of the fern genus Trichomanes (Hymenophyllaceae) : global sampling, molecular approach and re-evaluation of morphology Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 155 : 1-27 . doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2007.00684.x
  • Ebihara A., Dubuisson J.-Y., Iwatsuki K., Hennequin S. & Ito M ( 2006 ) A taxonomic revision of the Hymenophyllaceae Blumea 51 : 221-280 . Blumea
  • Hennequin S., Ebihara A., Ito M., Iwatsuki K., & Dubuisson J.-Y ( 2006 ) New insights into the phylogeny of Hymenophyllum (Hymenophyllaceae): revealing the polyphyly of Mecodium Systematic Botany 31 : 271-284 . doi:10.1600/036364406777585775
  • Hennequin S., Ebihara A., Ito M., Iwatsuki K., & Dubuisson J.-Y. ( 2006 ) Phylogenetic systematics and evolution of the genus Hymenophyllum (Hymenophyllaceae: Pteridophyta), Fern Gazette 17 : 247-257 . Fern Gazette
  • Ebihara A., Hennequin S., Iwatsuki K., Bostock P., Matsumoto S., Jaman R., Dubuisson J.-Y., & Ito M. ( 2004 ) Polyphyletic origin of Microtrichomanes (Mett. Ex Prantl) Copel. (Hymenophyllaceae) with a revision of the species Taxon 53 : 935-948 . Taxon
  • Dubuisson J.-Y., Hennequin S., Douzery E. J. P., Pryer K. M., Cranfill R., & Smith A. R. ( 2003 ) Molecular systematics of the fern genus Trichomanes L. (Hymenophyllaceae) with special reference to neotropical taxa International Journal of Plant Science 164 : 753-761 . doi:10.1086/377059
  • Dubuisson J.-Y., Hennequin S., Rakotondrainibe F. & Schneider H ( 2003 ) Ecological diversity and adaptative tendencies in the tropical fern genus Trichomanes L. (Hymenophyllaceae) with special reference to climbing habit Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 142 : 41-63 . doi:10.1046/j.1095-8339.2003.00165.x
  • Hennequin S ( 2003 ) Phylogenetic relationships within the fern genus Hymenophyllum s.l. (Hymenophyllaceae, Filicopsida): contribution of morphology and cytology Comptes Rendus Biologies 326 : 599-611 . doi:10.1016/S1631-0691(03)00146-X
  • Hennequin S., Ebihara A., Ito M., Iwatsuki K. & Dubuisson J.-Y. ( 2003 ) Molecular systematics of the fern genus Hymenophyllum s.l. (Hymenophyllaceae) based on chloroplastic coding and noncoding regions Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 27 : 283-301 . doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00404-9