Sonia Yakovlev

Position: Emeritus Senior Research Scientist
Detailed position: Emeritus CNRS Senior Research Scientist

Team: Plant diversity and evolution

Contact details:
Laboratoire Écologie, Systématique et Évolution – IDEEV
Bureau 2324 Bât. 680 – 12, route 128
91190 Gif Sur Yvette

Tel: +33 (0)1 69 15 46 98


Email: sonia.yakovlev (at)

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution

Research interests

Main Research field

Chromosome evolution and genome organization, Cytogenetic and evolution of plants; Biodiversity; Endemism, Plant Evolutional Systematic

Research fields

My research focuses on the evolution of species complexes by cytogenetic approaches at several levels of integration: chromosomal, nuclear, cellular, individual, populational and specific. These researches find application in various disciplines of biology (eg. evolutionary systematics, genetics or biodiversity) through studies of the evolution of genome size and chromosome number, the molecular structure of chromosomes, the heterochromatin and repeated sequences in general, and the organization of ribosomal genes.

In our wide project “Towards a genome size and chromosome number database of Balkan flora” numerous genera were studied. During this study the genome size assessment permitted to point out, in several species complexes, the existence of different ploidy levels, hybridisation processes, dysploidy phenomenon or presence of B chromosomes. Our observations underline the necessity of multiple sampling, notably to handle the very real possibility of different ploidy levels in the same population. Investigation of several populations for one species is also very useful, leading to the discovery of different ploidy levels among populations. A similar project on the flora of Lebanon is also in progress with my colleagues at the University St Joseph in Beirut.

I am also engaged in the field of biodiversity assessment and strategy for its preservation. So, with my colleagues at the University of Sarajevo I initiated a program on biodiversity assessment and measures for the conservation of rare or endemic species which flora of Bosnia and Herzegovina is very rich.

Research projects

Through my collaboration with colleagues from Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Montenegro, Spain, Tunisia) the program about genome size database will be expanded to a large part of the Mediterranean basin. The evolution of genome size is and will be studied in several plant genera. This project is in close collaboration with Spencer Brown and Mick Bourge (Institut des Sciences du Végétal, UPR 2355, CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), Joan Vallès (Faculty of Pharmacia, University of Barcelona), Teresa Garnatje and Sonia Garcia (Institute of Botany, Barcelona) and Oriane Hidalgo and Jaume Pellicer (Royal Botanical Garden, Kew).

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution


I gave and I always give lectures and courses on cytogenetics, karyosystématique and palynology with particular focuses in genome organization and genome size evolution [Master level at University Pierre et Marie Curie Paris VI, University of Sarajevo (Bosnia), University of Belgrade (Serbia) and University St-Joseph of Beirut (Lebanon)].

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution

Career path


1986 –   Ph.D. in Plant Evolutional Systematic, Faculty of Sciences, University of Paris-Sud, France


1971-76 Researcher, Institute of Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

1977-78 Assistant in Biology, University Paris-Sud, Faculty of Sciences, Orsay, France

1979-92 Researcher, CNRS, Laboratory of plant biology, University of Paris-Sud, Orsay, France

1992-2014 Director of research CNRS, Laboratory Ecology, Systematic and Evolution, Department of Biodiversity, Systematic and Ecology, UMR CNRS 8079, University Paris-Sud, France

2014 – present Director of research CNRS emeritus, Laboratory Ecology, Systematic and Evolution, UMR CNRS 8079, University Paris-Sud, France

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution


  • 228 articles
  •    6 book chapters.
  • 315 contributions to scientific congresses
  • Supervisor of several PhD theses.
  • Reviewer for diverse scientific journals and grant agencies.

Selected publications from 5 last years:

Pustahija F., Bogunic F., Basic N., Muratovic E., Bourge M., Brown C.S. Stevanovic V., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2013. Small genomes dominate in plants growing on serpentine soils in West Balkans, an exhaustive study of 8 habitats covering 308 taxa. Plant and soil, 373:427–453

Siljak-Yakovlev S., Temunovic M., Robin O., Raquin Ch., Frascaria-Lacoste N. 2013. Genome size and physical mapping of rDNA and G-C rich heterochromatin in three European Fraxunus species. Tree genetics & genomes, 10: 231-239.

Lazarevic M., Siljak–Yakovlev S., Lazarevic P., Stevanovic P., Stevanovic V. 2013.  Pollen and seed morphology of resurrection plants from the genus Ramonda (Gesneriaceae): relationship with ploidy level and ecology. Turkish Journal of Botany, 37: 872-885.

Abdel Samad F., Baumel A., Juin M., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Médail F., Bou Dagher Kharrat M. 2013. Genome size and polyploidy evolution of endemic Lebanese Astragalus in phylogenetic tramwork. Plant Systematic&Evolution, 300: 819-830.

Vallès J., Canela M.Á., Garcia S., Hidalgo O., Pellicer J., Sánchez-Jiménez I., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Vitales D., Garnatje T. 2013. Genome size variation and evolution in the family Asteraceae. Caryologia, 66: 236-242.

Benhizia H., Benhizia Y., Ghernoub L., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Khalfallah N. 2013. Meiotic behavior and karyotype feature of endangered endemic fodder species Hedysarum perrauderianum Coss. (Fabaceae) in contrasted environmental conditions. Caryologia, 66: 195-204.

Karrat-Souissi A., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Brown S., Baumel A., Torre F., Chaib M. 2014. The polyploidy nature of Cenchrus ciliaris L. (Poaceae) has been overlooked: new insights for the conservation and invasion biology of this species – A review. The Rangeland Journal, 36: 11-23. Raki? T., Lazarevic M., Jovanovic ZS, Radovic S., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Stevanovi? B., Stevanovi? V. 2014. Resurrection plants of the genus Ramonda: prospective survival strategies – unlock further capacity of adaptation, or embark on the path of evolution? Frontiers in Plant Sciences, 4:550, 1-9.

Valles J, Bašic N, Bogunic F, Bourge M, Brown Cs, Garnatje T, Hajrudinovic A, Muratovic E, Pustahija F, Šolic ME & Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2014. Contribution to plant genome size knowledge: first assessments in five genera and 30 species of angiosperms from western Balkans. Botanica Serbica, 38 (1): 3-11

Baziz K, Benamara-Bellagha M, Pustahija F, Brown CS, Siljak-Yakovlev S, Khalfallah N. 2014. First karyotype analysis, physical rDNA mapping and genome size assessment in four North African Astragalus taxa (Fabaceae). Turkish Journal of Botany, 38: 1248-1258

Rakic T., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Šinžar-Sekulic J., Lazarevic M., Stevanovic B., Stevanovic V., Lakušic D. 2014. Morphological and genome size variation within populations of Edraianthus graminifolius jugoslavicus (Campanulaceae) from the Central Balkan Peninsula. Arch. Biol. Sci., Belgrade, 66 (2): 743-763.

Moraes AP., Souza-Chies T., Stiehl-Alves EM., Piccolli1 P., Eggers L., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Brown S.C, Chauveau O., Nadot S., Bourge M., Kaltchuk dos Santos E., 2015. Evolutionary trends in Iridaceae: new cytogenetic findings from the New World. Bot. Jour. Linn. Soc., 177: 27-49.

Enke N., Reinhard K, Fatima P, Gernot G, Jonas Z, Jana O, Georgia K, Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2015.  Phylogeny and Karyotype Evolution in Crepis section Neglectoides.  Plant Biology, 17: 775–786.

Vallès J, Garnatje T, Robin O, Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2015. Molecular cytogenetic studies in western Mediterranean Juniperus (Cupressaceae): a constant model of GC-rich chromosomal regions and rDNA loci with evidences for paleopolyploidy. Tree Genetics & Genomes, 11:43 DOI : 10.1007/s11295-015-0860-3

Hajrudinovic A., Frajman B., Schönswetter P., Silajdzic E., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Bogunic F. 2015. Origin, characterisation and description of a new, geographically isolated, tetraploid apomictic Sorbus species (Rosaceae) from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Balkan Peninsula). Bot. Jour. Linn. Soc., 178 (4): 670–685

Hajrudinovic A., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Brown SC, Pustahija F., Bourge M., Ballian D., Bogunic F. 2015. When sexual meets apomict – genome size, ploidy level and reproduction mode variation of Sorbus aria s.l. and S. austriaca (Rosaceae) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Annals of Botany, 116 (2): 301-312

Fyad-Lameche F-Z., Iantcheva A.,. Siljak-Yakovlev S.,. Brown S. C. 2015. Chromosome number, genome size, seed storage protein profile and competence for direct somatic embryo formation in Algerian annual Medicago species. Plant Cell, Tissue & Organ Culture (PCTOC), 124(3):531–540

Conti F., Niketic M., Vukojicic S., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Barina Z. & Lakušic D. 2015. A new species of Reichardia (Asteraceae) from Albania and re-evaluation of R. macrophylla. Phytotaxa,  2 3 6 (2): 1 2 1 – 1 3 4

Boukhenane M., Khalfallah N., Pustahija F., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2015.   Cytogenetic characterization of six populations of Narcissus tazetta L. (Amaryllidaceae) from western Mediterranean. International Journal of Advanced Research, 3(11): 1538 -1546

Gemma Mas de Xaxars, Garnatje T., Pellicer J., Sonja Siljak-Yakovlev S., Vallès J., Garcia S. 2016. Impact of dysploidy and polyploidy in high mountain Artemisia (Asteraceae) and allies. Alpine Botany, 126(1), 35-48.

Bationo-Kando P., Zongo JD, Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2016. First genome size assessment, heterochromatin and rDNA chromosome mapping in the genus Sclerocarya (Anacardiaceae): case study of Sclerocarya birrea subsp birrea. Botany Letters, 163(1): 11-17.

Tacuatiá L., Kaltchuk-Santos E., Teixeira Souza-Chies T., Eggers L., Robin O., Pustahija F., Raquin C., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2016. Physical mapping of rRNA genes and genome size variation in polyploid series of Sisyrinchium micranthum and its closely related species S. laxum and S. rosulatum. Plant Biosystems, 151(3): 403–413, DOI: 10.1080/11263504.2016.1179691

Benamara-Bellagha M, Baziz K, Pustahija F, Khalfallah N, Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2016. Cytogenetic characterization and nuclear DNA content of three North African endemic Centaurea species. Plant Biosystems, 150 (3): 501-511.

Lakusic D., Stefanovic S., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Rakic T., Kuzmanovic N., Surina B. 2016. Edraianthus stankovicii (Campanulaceae), an overlooked taxon from the Balkan Peninsula – Evidence from morphometric, molecular and genome size studies. Phytotaxa, 269(2):69-89.

Abdel Samad N., Bou Dagher-Karrat M., Douaihy B., El Zein R., Hidalgo O., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2016. Unlocking the karyological and cytogenetic diversity of Iris from Lebanon: Oncocyclus section shows a distinctive profile and relative stasis during its continental radiation. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160816. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160816

Hidalgo O., Vitales D.,  Vallès J., Garnatje T., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Leitch I., Pellicer J. 2017. Cytogenetic insights into an oceanic island radiation: the dramatic evolution of preexisting traits in Cheirolophus (Asteraceae, Cardueae-Centaureinae). Taxon, 66(1): 146-157.

Carev I., Rušcic M., Skocibušic M., Maravic A., Siljak-Yakovlev S. Politeo O. 2017. Phytochemical and cytogenetic characterization of Centaurea solstitialis (Asteraceae) from Croatia. Chemistry & Biodiversity DOI: 10.1002/cbdv.201600213

Brown S.C., Bourge M., Maunoury N., Wong M., Bianchi M., Lepers-Andrzejewski S., Besse P., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Dron M., Satiat-Jeunemaître B. 2017. DNA remodelling by Strict partial endoreplication in orchids, an original process in the plant kingdom. Genome Biol. Evol. 9(4): 1051–1071. doi:10.1093/gbe/evx063

Siljak-Yakovlev S., Godelle B., Zoldos V., Garnatje T., Valles J., Hidalgo O. 2017. Heterochromatin and rDNA evolutionary implications in basic chromosome number and genome size changes during dysploidy: a case-study in Reichardia genus (Asteraceae, Cichorieae). PLoS ONE, August 9, 2017, 10.1371/journal.pone.0182318.

Bakha M., Al Faiz C, Daoud M, El Mtili N, Aboukhalid K, Machon N., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2017. Genome size and chromosome number for six taxa of Origanum genus from Morocco. Botany Letters, 4: 361-370  DOI.10.1080/23818107.2017.1395766

Teixeira Souza-Chies T., Fachinetto J., Tacuatiá L.O., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Pustahija F., Kaltchuk-Santos E. 2017.  Chromosome number in Iridaceae, Subfamily: Iridoideae – Tribe: Sisyrinchieae. In IAPT/IOPB chromosome data 26, edited by Marhold K. & Ku?er J. Taxon, 66(6): 1487-1499.

Zoldos V., Biruš I., Muratovic E., Šatovic Z., Vojta A., Robin O., Pustahija F., Bogunic F., Vicic Bockor V., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2018. Epigenetic differentiation of natural populations of Lilium bosniacum associated with contrasting habitat conditions. Genome Biology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evy010

Gaudeul M., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Jang T-S., Rouhan G. 2018. Reconstructing species elationships within the recently diversified genus Odontites Ludw. (Orobanchaceae): evidence for extensive reticulate evolution. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 179(1): 1-20. DOI: 10.1086/694763

Lakušic D., Tomovic G., Gussev Ch., Barina Z., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Kuzmanovic N., Jankovic I., Vukojicic S. 2018. Distribution and variability of Balkan endemic Geum bulgaricum (Rosaceae) ¾ a species of European concern. Botanica Serbica, 42(1): 71-90.

Burchardt P., Souza-Chies T., Brisolara-Corrêa L., Chauveau O., Dellanhese Inácio I., Eggers L., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Salabert de Campos JM., Kaltchuk-Santos E. 2018. Cytological and genome size data analyzed in a phylogenetic frame: evolutionary implications concerning Sisyrinchium species (Iridaceae: Iridoideae). Genetics and Molecular Biology, 41:  DOI:

Carev I., Maravic A., Bektaševic M., Rušcic M., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Politeo O. 2018. Centaurea rupestris L.: cytogenetics, essential oil chemistry and biological activity. Croatica Chemical Acta, 91(1): 1-8. DOI 10.5562/cca3205

Domizia Nardi F., Pustahija F., Andreucci A., Ciccarelli D., Siljak-Yakovlev S., Peruzzi L. 2018.  Does Solidago litoralis (Asteraceae) merit specific rank? Insights from cytogenetic, molecular and ecological data. Phytotaxa, 346 (2): 121-140.

Adams, R. P., A. Boratynski, K. Marcysiak, F. Roma-Marzio, L. Peruzzi, T. Mataraci, A. N. Tashev and S. Siljak-Yakovlev.  2018. Discovery of Juniperus sabina var. balkanensis R. P. Adams & Tashev in Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Central and Southern Italy and relictual polymorphisms found in nrDNA.  Phytologia 100(2): 117-127.

Bou Dagher Kharrat M., Siljak Yakovlev S., Boratinsky A. 2018. Genetic Diversity patterns of Eastern Mediterranean Conifers. Conference paper: Biology and ecology of woody plants at: Poznan – Poland, p. 66-84.

Adams R. P., Farhat P., Shuka L., Siljak-Yakovlev S. 2018. Discovery of Juniperus sabina var. balkanensis R. P. Adams and A. N. Tashev in Albania and relictual polymorphisms found in nrDNA. Phytologia 100(3): 187-194.


Vaissière A.C., Quétier F., et al. (2018). « France » in Wende W., Tucker G., Quétier F., Rayment M., Darbi M. (eds) : Biodiversity Offsets – European Perspectives on No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Springer, Cham. pp. 99-121.

Vaissière A.C., Quétier F., Levrel H. (2017). « Le nouveau dispositif des sites naturels de compensation : est-ce trop tôt ? » in Cans, C., Cizel, O., (dir.) La loi biodiversité. Ce qui change en pratique, Éditions Législatives, pp. 126–137.

Vaissière A.C., Levrel H., Scemama P. (2015). « Les banques de compensation aux Etats-Unis : une nouvelle forme organisationnelle et institutionnelle pour la conservation basée sur le marché ? », in Levrel H., Frascaria-Lacoste N., Hay J., Martin G., Pioch S. (eds.), Restaurer la nature pour atténuer les impacts du développement. Analyse des mesures compensatoires pour la biodiversité, Éditions QUAE, pp. 116–127.

Hassan F., Calvet C., Vaissière A.C. (2015). « Comparaison des cadres institutionnels américains et français pour la mise en œuvre des banques de compensation » in Levrel H., Frascaria-Lacoste N., Hay J., Martin G., Pioch S. (eds.), Restaurer la nature pour atténuer les impacts du développement. Analyse des mesures compensatoires pour la biodiversité, Éditions QUAE, pp. 157–161.

Hassan F., Levrel H., Scemama. P., Vaissière A.C. (2015). « Le cadre de gouvernance américain des mesures compensatoires pour les zones humides », in Levrel H., Frascaria- Lacoste N., Hay J., Martin G., Pioch S. (eds.), Restaurer la nature pour atténuer les impacts du développement. Analyse des mesures compensatoires pour la biodiversité, Éditions QUAE, pp. 45–57.

Levrel H., Scemama P., Vaissière A.C. (2015). « Risques associés aux banques de compensation et adaptations des régulateurs aux États-Unis », in Levrel H., Frascaria-Lacoste N., Hay J., Martin G., Pioch S. (eds.), Restaurer la nature pour atténuer les impacts du développement. Analyse des mesures compensatoires pour la biodiversité, Éditions QUAE, pp. 128–138.

Scemama P., Levrel H., Buitron R., Cabral P., Vaissière A.C. (2015). « Analyse spatio-temporelle du marché de la compensation des zones humides aux États-Unis », in Levrel H., Frascaria-Lacoste N., Hay J., Martin G., Pioch S. (eds.), Restaurer la nature pour atténuer les impacts du développement. Analyse des mesures compensatoires pour la biodiversité, Editions QUAE, pp. 102–115.

Vaissière A.C., Levrel H., Pioch S., Carlier A. (2013). « La compensation écologique et les EMR : un premier état de la situation en Europe pour l’éolien offshore », in Gueguen G., Levrel H., (eds.), Les énergies marines renouvelables : enjeux juridiques et socio-économiques, Éditions A. Pedone, pp.169–195.


Jacob C., Bas A., Scemama P., Hay J., Kermagoret C., Vaissière A.C., Pioch S., Thorin S., Quétier F., Levrel H. (2017) « La compensation en mer », Publications électroniques Amure, Série Document de travail, D-41-2017, 5p.

Quétier F., Malapert A., Vaissière A.C. (2016). « Evidence of the costs of offsetting in France« , in Tucker G.M., Dickie I., McNeil D., Rayment M., ten Brink P., Underwood E. Supporting the Elaboration of the Impact Assessment for a Future EU Initiative on No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Report to the European Commission. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London, pp 364–370.

Levrel H., Hassan F., Scemama P., Vaissière A.C. (2015). « Des innovations institutionnelles et organisationnelles pour accroître l’investissement dans le capital naturel », in Commissariat Général au Développement Durable (CGDD) (ed.), Nature et richesse des nations, Collection « La Revue » du Service de l’Économie, de l’Évaluation et de l’Intégration du Développement Durable (SEEIDD) du Commissariat Général au Développement Durable (CGDD), pp. 145–158.