Prof. Sasa Stefanovic

Sasa Stefanovic

Professor Biology
(905) 569-4305
(905) 828-3792
Office Location:
DV 3039

Research | Courses Taught | Publications | People | NEW Positions Available


Venn diagram showing Dr. Stefanovic's research interests and how they relate to each otherMy research employs molecular and traditional tools addressing plant systematics questions at both higher and lower taxonomic level as well as molecular mechanisms underlying organellar genome evolution in plants. The bulk of my research is centered on the systematics and molecular evolution of Convolvulaceae (morning-glory family) in general and, more particularly, on a parasitic genus Cuscuta (dodders) found within that family. Convolvulaceae are one of the very few flowering plant families showing substantial structural differences in otherwise highly conserved plastid genome. The comparative approach on a broad taxon sampling within this family and in conjunction with a robust phylogenetic framework will help to address a series of testable hypotheses regarding the pattern and process of chloroplast genome evolution and their correlates at the organismal level.

More broadly, I am interested in a number of other related plant evolution topics, centered around the reliable inference of the plant tree of life at various phylogenetic levels, and the application of these phylogenies to evolutionary problems that stretch from genes and genomes to plant sexual systems and phylogeography. From the systematics point of view I am mostly interested in a species-level phylogeny. It is usually at this level that the most interesting biological questions regarding speciation, biogeography, character evolution, genome evolution, etc., can be tackled successfully. In molecular evolution field, I am particularly interested in changes that have shaped the plastid genome evolution in heterotrophic plants in general (both parasitic and mycotrophic), the shared and unique features characterizing different phylogenetic, ecological, and physiological groups of heterotrophs, as well as the extent of involvement of these very unusual plants in evolutionary phenomena such as horizontal gene transfer. I am also interested in patterns of mitochondrial evolution in land plants, especially in ferns and conifers.

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Courses Taught

  • BIO215 - Laboratory in Molecular Biology and Genetics (2005)
  • BIO314 - Laboratory in Cell and Molecular Biology (2006-2012)
  • BIO339 - Plant Identification and Systematics (2013-present)
  • BIO443 - Phylogenetic Principles (2005-present)
  • EEB1443 - Phylogenetic Principles (graduate course; 2010-present)
  • Experiential learning - BIO399, BIO481, JCB487

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Google Scholar Citations























  • Stefanović, S., F. Rakotondrainibe, and F. Badre. 1997. Famille 14, Selaginellaceae, Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, Museum National d'Histoire Natirelle, Paris. 68 pp.
  • Stefanović, S. and F. Rakotondrainibe. 1997. Contribution to the study of the Selaginellaceae of Madagascar. Adansonia, ser. 3, 19: 165-168.


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Current Lab Members:

  • Qianshi Lin, PDF
  • Kevin Chu, ROP student (2020-2021)
  • Aniruddha Doshi, ROP student (2020-2021)
  • Farhan Majumder, PhD student
  • Eric Yung, MSc student
  • Asawari Albal, PhD student
  • Arjan Banerjee, PhD candidate

Former Lab Members:

  • Erika Frangione, MSc; 2018-2019 [current position: Bioinformatician, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto]
  • Adam Schneider, PDF; 2017-2018 [current position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Hendrix College, AR]
  • Miguel García, PDF; 2013-2016 [current position: Research Associate, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, UK]
  • Michael Wright, PhD student; 2010-2016 (withdrawn)
  • Thomas Braukmann, PhD; 2007-2014 [current position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph]
  • Anuar Rodrigues, PhD; 2007-2013 [current position: Director, Strategic Projects and Initiatives, Office of the Vice-President and Provost, University of Toronto]
  • Jennifer Coughlan, MSc (co-supervised with T.A. Dickinson, ROM); 2010-2012 [current position: PhD candidate, Willis Lab, Department of Biology, Duke University]
  • Eugenia Lo, PhD (co-supervised with T.A. Dickinson, ROM); 2004-2008 [current position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Carolina Charlotte]
  • Mehdi Zarrei, PDF (co-supervised with T.A. Dickinson, ROM); 2010-2012 [current position: Research Associate, The Centre for Applied Genomics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto]
  • Dahlia Kasimer, Laboratory Technician; 2014-2018 [current position: Teaching Laboratory Technician, Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga]
  • Kathleen Buck, Herbarium Technician; 2011- 2012
  • Tara Nicholls, Herbarium Technician; 2010-2011
  • Maria Kuzmina, Laboratory Technician;  2005-2008 [current position: Research Associate, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph]


  • Research Opportunity Program:
    • Kirandeep Khurana (2019/2020)
    • Michael Sun (2019/2020)
    • Wen Tang (2019)
    • Nurulain Ibrahim (2018)
    • Hanine El-Mawed (2018)
    • Sian Milne (2018/2019)
    • Clyde Yan (2017/2018)
    • Daniel Fredric (2017/2018)
    • Geevithan Krishnapillai (2016/2017)
    • Monalaisa Elmoussa (2015/20106)
    • Taylor Davie (2015/2016)
    • Muzzammil Abdur-Razak (2014)
    • Qasim Muhammad (2013/2014)
    • Milena Kosic (2013/2014)
    • Michael Adamczyk (2012/2013)
    • Norsyuhada Mohktar (2012/2013)
    • Bibi Mohungoo (2012/2013)
    • Chin-Jui Huang (2010/2011)
  • Biology Research Project:
    • Kyle Lanteigne-Wilkins (2019/2020)
    • Erika Frangione (2017/2018)
    • Roula Farag (2016/2017)
    • Muzzammil Abdur-Razak (2014/2015)
    • Gustav Wulf (2013/2014)
    • Nazar Mlynko (2012/2013)
    • Shana Shaya (2011/2012)
    • Hernando Garcia Burgos (2009/2010)
    • Sayed Jibran Shah (2008/2009)
    • Christopher Doan (2007/2008)
    • Anuar Rodrigues (2006/2007)
    • Nataliya Zhukova (2006/2007)
  • Advanced Interdisciplinary Research Lab:
    • Huma Inayat (2013/2014)
    • Daniel Junik (2013/2014)
    • Mark Levy (2013/2014)
    • Samia Mirza (2013/2014)
    • Norsyuhada Mohktar (2013/2014)
    • Daniel Nino (2013/2014)
    • Buddhisha Udugama (2012/2013)
    • Wendy Otieno (2012/2013)
    • Roger Bialy (2012/2013)
    • Miki Gams (2012/2013)
    • Simo Becarevic (2015)
    • Michael Adamczyk (2013)
    • Meet Zandawala (2008)

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