Gábor Sramkó

Current research topics

  • Phylogenetics of the endangered orchid genus Himantoglossum
  • This research theme has been my focus in the last two years, funded by an international exchange grant. We aim to determine the phylogenetic relationships within the genus Himantoglossum (lizard-orchids) s.l. using molecular makers and morphorological characters. We managed to sample all species within this genus, including three highly endangered species listed in the nature conservation act of EU (Natura 2000). Our proposed phylogeny answers the question of how the species within this group are related to each other, and also depicts the phylogeography of these plants, which follows an east-to-west migration in two waves; an earlier that branched into a Mediterranean lineage of species, and a recent one resulting Submediterranean species, including ours (H. adriaticum, H. caprinum). Interestingly, molecular markers tell about a hybridisation story within the group that led to the formation of one of the EU protected species, H. adriaticum. This exchange grant allowed me to work with Prof. R. M. Bateman (Kew) and Dr. J. A. Hawkins (Reading).
  • Phylogeography of the Ophrys fuciflora (bee-orchid) species-complex
  • My PhD-theme was the molecular analysis of the above species-complex, which is the most species-rich complex within the sexually deceptive plant genus Ophrys, and can be considered as a group accurately representing the biological problems within the genus. Because most contemporary researchers, mainly entomologists, believe the strong selection mediated by the sexually deceived male pollinators leads to rapid isolation of new Ophrys species, which causes/caused an extensive speciation in this genus. However, in our view, who look at these plants through the glass of genetics, the situation is different, because the strong isolation did not lead to genetic isolation of species, therefore we cannot accept the dominant role of the pollinators in the evolution of Ophrys. In contrast, the intensive cloning of the nrITS region identified four lineages within the O. fuciflora complex, that can be connected to glacial refugia, therefore hinting at other factors than pollinators as main drivers in the evolution of Ophrys.
  • Molecular identification of the relict Hungarian population of Adonis
  • For decades after the discovery of an Adonis population in the centre of the Great Hungarian Plain it was believed it represented the westernmost population of the Central Asian species A. volgensis. Notwithstanding, the careful examination of such populations around Cluj-Napoca (Ro) identified an introgression of the Central Asian species towards the more common A. vernalis. This result was extrapolated into the Hungarian population, and our botany reclassified our relict population as a hybrid, but without any investigations. Working together with a PhD-student at Cluj, L. Bartha, we sampled and analysed these populations using molecular markers and comparing them to allopatric A. vernalis and A. volgensis populations. We could verify the genetic exchange in case of the Cluj population, but we found the Hungarian population to be uniform genetically and identical with A. volgensis samples.
  • Molecular phylogenetics of Astragalus section Dissitiflori
  • With my collaborator L. Bartha (Cluj-Napoca), we try to shed light on the phylogeny of the "orchids of steppes", a Central-Asian milk-vetch group. As many members of these species are steppe relicts in our region, it is an important conservation genetics question to clarify the phylogenetic affiliations of our species. On the other hand, as these plants are known to be reproduce explicitly on an autogamous way, their phylogeny can be interesting in sense of how the morphological variability is maintained in such a reproduction system.
  • The molecular validation of Diphasium tristachyum in Hungary
  • Using the molecular markers described by Norwegian researchers, we characterised molecularly the Hungarian populations of D. tristacyum, a species reported only from a northern mountain range of Hungary. Both chloroplast and nuclear markers were identical with D. complanatum sequences. These regions were also checked on the voucher specimen, and it was also found to be mis-identified.
  • Phylogenetics of the European members of Elatine sect. Elatinella
  • In this research project, which we have just initiated with Prof. A. Popiela (Szczecin), we would like to gain insight into the phylogenetic relationships of the little-know littoral species of Elatine, where the evolutionary background of transitions of various floral traits can potentially be explained by a clear phylogeny of these species. We will utilise several chloroplast and two nuclear regions to build a molecular phylogeny of this group.
  • Molecular analysis of the Hungarian Sicista subtilis
  • This rodent species is another steppe relict that extends to the west to Hungary. Using mitochondrial and nuclear markers, we try to phyogenetically characterise the Hungarian population, as there are several morphological traits that suggest a taxonomical distinctiveness of our population. For this work, we designed a new primer-pair that can be used to PCR-amplify a 1.6 kb region of the cytochrome-B region, which is phylogenetically highly informative. This project is run together with Prof. J. Farkas and Dr. T. Cserkész (Budapest).
  • Molecular characterisation of Maculinea arion and M. teleius in allo- and sympatric populations
  • In this new research, I work together with Dr. J. Bereczki (Debrecen), who would like to find, if there is any, evidence for genetic exchange between two closely related butterfly species. We utilise numerous mitochondrial and nuclear markers to genetically characterise allo- and sympatric populations of the above species.
  • Vegetation and flora mapping in Mátra Mountains
  • This work accompany me from my early student years. As a result, together with G. Magos, we mapped the natural vegetation of the mountains at scale 1:10000 on 300 km2 by now. We have also published several floristic papers in national peer-reviewed journal, reporting many vascular plant species at the first time from the flora of the mountains.
  • Floristics in the Carpatho-Pannonian Region
  • Several, internationally interesting occurrences of plant species from our geographic region were published and being published as a result of my work with various co-authors. These species include Anogramma laptophylla, Ophrys bertolonii, Epipactis albensis, Elatine hungarica.

List of publications

  • Sramkó G, Gulyás G, Molnár VA (2011) Convergent evolution in Ophrys kotschyi (Orchidaceae) revisited: a study using nrITS and cpIGS sequences. Annales Botanici Fennici 48: 97-106.
  • Bateman RM, Bradshaw E, Devey DS, Glover BJ, Malmgren S, Sramkó G, Thomas MM, Rudall PJ (2011) Species arguments: clarifying competing concepts of species delimitation in the pseudo-copulatory orchid genus Ophrys. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 165: 336-347.
  • Molnár VA, Máté A, Sramkó G (2011) An unexpected new record of the Mediterranean orchid, Ophrys bertolonii (Orchidaceae) in Central Europe. Biologia-Bratislava 66(5): 778-782.
  • Demeter Z, Surányi Gy, Molnár VA, Sramkó G, Beyer D, Kónya Z, Vasas G, M-Hamvas M, Máthe Cs (2010) Somatic embryogenesis and regeneration from shoot primordia of Crocus heuffelianus. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 100(3): 349-353.
  • Magos G, Sramkó G (2010) A Mátra központi részének vegetációtérképe [Vegetation Map of the central part of the Mátra Mountains]. In: Baráz Cs (szerk.) A Mátrai Tájvédelmi Körzet: Heves és Nógrád határán [Mátra Mts. Conservation Area: At the Border of Heves and Nógrád Counties]. Eger: Bükki Nemzeti Park Igazgatósága, térképmelléklet [map appendix].
  • Molnár Cs, Baros Z, Pintér I, Türke IJ, Molnár VA, Sramkó G (2008) Remote, inland occurrence of the oceanic Anogramma leptophylla (L.) Link (Pteridaceae: Taenitidoideae) in Hungary. American Fern Journal 98(3): 128-138.
  • Sramkó G, Gulyás G, Matus G, Rudnóy Sz, Illyés Z, Bratek Z, Molnár VA (2008) Leaf width, nrDNA and cpDNA ITS sequence variation within Central European Bulbocodium vernum and B. versicolor (Colchicaceae) populations: are there really two taxa? Acta Biologica Hungarica 59(1): 103-114.
  • Gulyás G, Sramkó G, Molnár VA, Rudnóy Sz, Illyés Z, Balázs T, Bratek Z (2005) Nuclear ribosomal DNA ITS paralogs as evidence of recent interspecific hybridization in the genus Ophrys (Orchidaceae). Acta Biologica Cracoviensia Series Botanica 47(2): 61-67.


  • 2012- MTA-ELTE-HNHM Ecology Research Group
  • 2010-2011: postdoctoral researcher at Department of Botany, University of Debrecen
  • 2004-2007: PhD student at Department of Botany, University of Debrecen
  • 1999-2004: student in biology, majored in ecology at University of Debrecen


  • My main co-operator is my former PhD supervisor, Dr. A. Molnár V., who together with we work on various aspects of plant ecology.
  • I work on the orchid phylogenetics themes with Prof. Richard M. Bateman (Kew) and Dr. Julie A. Hawkins (Reading).
  • A part of the Himantoglossum work is studied with Prof. Andriy V. Yena (Simferopol), who has probably the most extensive field knowledge on the flora of the Crimea.
  • As part of the Himantoglossum work, we visited the enigmatic Azerbaijani member H. formosum, and we established a potential cooperation with the Institute of Botany at Baku, with Prof. Valida Ali-zade, and Dr. Esmira G. Alirzayeva.
  • The Adonis and the Astragalus work are run together with László Bartha, PhD-student at Cluj.
  • The Elatine work is in cooperation with Prof. Agnieszka Popiela (Szczecin).
  • My animal phylogenetics adventure was initiated by Dr. Tamás Cserkész (Budapest), the "father of Sicista" in Hungary, whose enthusiasm is one of the main motor of our cooperation.
  • The other animal phylogenetics story can be connected to a cooperation with Dr. Judit Bereczki (Debrecen), who has studied her butterflies for years using enzyme-polymorphism, and now DNA-sequencing.
  • My Mátra Mountains work is coordinated by the Bükk National Park Directorate, where I personally work with József Sulyok (Eger) and Gábor Magos (Gyöngyös).

Beyond plants

  • I'm a great fan of Hungarian traditional folk culture.
  • Hiking in mountains is part of my job, but it is also my passion.
  • Travelling in foreign countries is also part of my job, but I love it, especially if going to East.