Picture of Hugo Cota-Sanchez

Hugo Cota-Sanchez B.Sc., MSc, Ph.D.

Professor and Herbarium Curator

Faculty Member in Biology

CSRB 320.9

Research Area(s)

  • Plant systematics and biodiversity, in particular phylogeny, evolution, conservation and reproductive biology in angiosperm plant families
  • Development, management, and digitization of botanical collections
  • Reproductive biology and vivipary in Cactaceae and other plant families

About me

Hugo was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. He has a B.Sc. in Biology from the Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, M.Sc. in Botany from the Claremont Graduate University, and a Ph.D. in botany from Iowa State University. He was a research associate at the Missouri Botanic Garden (1998-2000) while simultaneously supervising the DNA sequencing and plant molecular systematics labs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. At present, he is an associate professor in the Department of Biology and herbarium curator at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. He has been the recipient of five Teaching Excellence awards, including the coveted Master Teacher Award, the highest award conferred by the University of Saskatchewan. He has taken several administrative roles, including membership in the IUCN, Cactaceae Specialist Group for the World Conservation Union (1996-), board of directors for the Flora of Saskatchewan Association (2007-), and board of directors for the Canadian Botanical Association (2004-2007).

Hugo speaks English, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish and frequently travels to Mexico and other parts of Central and South America to conduct fieldwork. His research interests within the cactus family are: 1) systematics and phylogeny, and 2) reproductive biology, with emphasis in the biology and evolution of viviparity. In his role as curator of the W.P. Fraser Herbarium he conducts floristic, taxonomic, and biodiversity studies dealing with native plants of Saskatchewan. His lab and herbarium research programs are funded by national, provincial and international agencies.


Selected Publications  

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. Falconer, D.J., Almeida, O.J.G. et al. 2023. Synchrotron micro-computed tomography unveils the three-dimensional structure and origin of staminodes in the Plains Prickly Pear Cactus Opuntia polyacantha Haw. (Cactaceae). Protoplasma 260: 1303–1312. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00709-023-01846-6.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2022. A compendium of vivipary in the Cactaceae: new reports, data, and research prospects. Invited Review. Brazilian Journal of Botany 45: 1001-1027. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40415-022-00834-z.

Rice, R.S., Vera-Vélez, R., Falconer, D.J., Belliveau, N.A., and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2022. Macro- and micromorphological characterization of staminodes in the Plains Prickly Pear Opuntia polyacantha Haw. (Cactaceae). Brazilian Journal of Botany 45: 665-768. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40415-022-00790-8

Baldini, R.M., Cota-Sánchez, J.H., and Aedo, C. 2021. Is the demise of plant taxonomy in sight? Maybe yes, maybe no... Webbia 76: 3-10. https://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/260271/1/10802-Article%20Text-23855-1-10-20210427%20%282%29.pdf

Vera-Vélez, R., Cota-Sánchez, J.H., Grijalva-Olmedo, J. 2021. Beta diversity and fallow length regulate soil fertility in cocoa agroforestry in the Northern ecuatoriano Amazon. Agricultural Systems 187: 103020.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2020.103020

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2020. A complementary note on Baldini's article: "The impact of COVID-19 crisis on Plant Taxonomy: will we be able to approach to plant taxonomy as in the past?". Webbia 75:137-139. https://www.torrossa.com/en/resources/an/4742358#

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2020. The value of virtual natural history collections for botanical instruction in these times of COVID-19 pandemic. Brazilian Journal of Botany 43:683-686. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40415-020-00663-y

Ferreira dos Santos, A., Pitarelli, B.F., Hernandes, C.M., Esclarski, P., de Souza, T.H., Souza, L.A., Almeida, O.J., Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2020. Pollen assessment in Africanized honeybees foraging two plant species inroad and urban environments. Brazilian Journal of Development 6: 9171-9185.

Vera-Vélez, R., Grijalva, J., and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2019. Cocoa agroforestry and tree diversity in relation to past land use in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon. New Forests 50: 891-910. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-019-09707-y

Almeida, O.J., Souza, L.A., Paoli, A.A., Davis, A.R., and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2018. Pericarp development in fruits of epiphytic cacti: implications for fruit classification and macro morphology. Botany 96: 621-635. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjb-2018-0074

Gutiérrez-Flores, C.,  León-de la Luz, J.L., García-De León, F.J., and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2018. Variation in chromosome number and breeding systems: implications for diversification in Pachycereus pringlei (Cactacee). Comparative Cytogenetics 12: 61-82. 10.3897/CompCytogen.v12i1.21554

Vera, V., R., Cota-Sánchez, J.H., and Gijalva Olmedo, J.E. 2017. Biodiversity, dynamics, and impact of chakras on the Ecuadorian Amazon. Journal of Plant Ecology 12: 34-44. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpe/rtx060

Gutiérrez-Flores, C., Cota-Sánchez, J.H., León-de la Luz, J.L., and García-De León, F.J. 2017. Disparity in floral traits and breeding systems in the iconic columnar cactus Pachycereus pringlei (Cactaceae. Flora 235: 18-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.flora.2017.08.007

Chauhan, R.S., Bahuguna, Y.M., Nautiyal, M.C., and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2018. First report of vivipary is Saussarea lappa (Asteraceae). Brazilian Journal of Botany 41: 507-514. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40415-018-0450-3

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2017. Precocious germination (vivipary) in tomato: a link to economic loss? Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences (India) Sect. B: Biological Sciences 88:1443-1451. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40011-017-0878-4

Gutiérrez-Flores, C., García-De León, F.J., León-de la Luz, J.L., and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2016. Microsatellite genetic diversity and mating systems in the columnar cactus Pachycereus pringlei (Cactaceae). Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 22: 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2016.06.003

Ito, Y and Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2014. Notes on the distribution and conservation status of Sparganium (Typhaceae) in the Canadian Prairie Provinces. Great Plains Research Journal 24: 119-125. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44685175

Cota-Sánchez, J.H., O.J. G., Almeida, D.J. Falconer, H.J. Choi, and B. Lewis. 2013. Intriguing thigmonastic (sensitive) stamens in the Plains Prickly Pear Opuntia polyacantha (Cactaceae). Flora 208: 381-389. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.flora.2013.04.009

Baalim, F., C. Peters, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2013. Distribution and natural history of carnivorous plants in Saskatchewan, Canada. Check List 9: 883-393. https://doi.org/10.15560/9.4.883

Almeida, O.J. G., J.H. Cota-Sánchez, and  A.A.S. Paoli. 2013. The systematic significance of floral morphology, nectaries, and sugar concentration in epiphytic cacti of tribes Hylocereeae and Rhipsalideae (Cactaceae). Perspectives in Plants Evolution, Ecology and Systematics 15: 255-268. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2013.08.001

Almeida, O.J. G., A.A.S. Paoli, L.A. Souza, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2013. Seedling morphology and development in the epiphytic cactus Epiphyllum phyllanthus (Cactaceae: Hylocereeae). Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society 140: 196-214.  https://doi.org/10.3159/TORREY-D-12-00031.1

Abreu, D.D., E. Arruda, G.F.A. Melo-de-Pinna, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2012. Morphology and anatomy of stem mines in Cipocereus minensis (Wender.) Ritter (Cactaceae: Cactoideae), an endemic species to Eastern Brazil. Haseltonia 17: 42–50. https://doi.org/10.2985/1070-0048-17.1.5

Almeida, O.J., A.A. Paoli, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2012. A macro- and micromorphological survey of floral and extrafloral nectaries in the epiphytic cactus Rhipsalis teres (Cactoideae: Rhipsalideae). Flora 207: 119-125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.flora.2011.11.004

Choi, H.J., L.M. Giussani, C.G. Jang, B.U. Oh, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2012. Systematics of disjunct northeastern Asian and northern North American Allium (Amaryllidaceae). Botany / Botanique 90: 491-502. https://doi.org/10.1139/b2012-031

Cota-Sánchez, J.H., A. Reyes-Olivas, & D.D. Abreu. 2011. Vivipary in the cactus family: A reply to Ortega-Baes' et al. evaluation of 25 species from northwestern Argentina. Journal of Arid Environments. 75: 878-880. 

Choi, H.J., A.R. Davis, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2011. Comparative floral structure of four New World Allium (Amaryllidaceae) species. Systematic Botany 36: 870-882. 

Lugo-García, G.A, M.A. Morón, A. Reyes-Olivas, A. Aragón-García, L.D. Ortega-Arenas y J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2011. Un estudio de la riqueza de escarabajos (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) en islas de las Bahias de Ohuira y Navachiste, Sinaloa, México. Duguesiana 18: 1-10.

Cota-Sánchez, J. H. and M. Bomfim-Patricio. 2010. Seed morphology, ploidy and the evolutionary history of the epiphytic cactus Rhipsalis baccifera (Cactaceae). Polibotánica 29: 107-129.

Choi, H.J., C. Peters, and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2010. Taxonomy of Wild Onions (Allium) in Saskatchewan. Blue Jay 68: 146-153. 

Choi, H.J. and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2010. A systematic review of Allium (Alliaceae) in the Canadian Prairie Provinces. Botany / Botanique 88: 787-809. 

Choi, H.J. and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2009. Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum), a rare plant in Saskatchewan. Blue Jay 67: 249-252. 

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. and V. L. Harms. 2009. The W. P. Fraser Herbarium (SASK) of the University of Saskatchewan: Past, present and future. Blue Jay 67: 97-104.

Giussani, L. M., Zuloaga, F. O., Quarín, C. L., Cota-Sánchez, J. H.,Ubayasena, K., and Morrone, O. 2009. Molecular phylogeny of Paspalum (Poaceae): An assessment of the Quadrifaria and Virgata informal groups. Systematic Botany 34: 32-43.

Pirie, M.D., A.M. Humphreys, C. Galley, N.P. Barker, G.A. Verboom, D. Orlovich, S.J. Draffin, K. Lloyd, C.M. Baeza, M. Negritto, E. Ruiz, J.H. Cota-Sánchez, E. Reimer and H.P. Linder. A novel supermatrix approach resolves phylogenetic relationships in danthonioid grasses. 2008. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 48: 1106-1119.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H, and D.S. Croutch. 2008. Notes on the floral biology of Praecereus euchlorus subsp. euchlorus (Cactaceae). Schumannia 5: 99-103.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. and D. D. Abreu. 2007. Vivipary and offspring survival in the epiphytic cactus Epiphyllum phyllanthus (Cactaceae). Journal of Experimental Botany 58: 3865-3873.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. and K. Remarchuk. 2007. A survey of aquatic plants in SASKWater canal system, Saskatchewan. Canadian Field Naturalist 212: 164-167.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H., Reyes-Oliva, A., and B. Sanchez-Soto. 2007. Vivipary in coastal cacti: A potential reproductive strategy in halophytic environments. American Journal of Botany 94: 1577-1581.

Reimer, E. A. and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2007. An SEM survey of leaf epidermis in Danthonioid grasess (Danthonioideae: Poaceae). Systematic Botany. 32: 60-70

Su, Z., and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2007.  A comparative biogeographical analysis of the spermatophyte floras in China and Canada. Polibotánica 24: 25-51.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. K. Remarchuk, and K. Ubayasena. 2006. Ready to use DNA extracted with a CTAB method adapted for herbarium specimens and mucilaginous plant tissue. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 24: 161-167

Remarchuk, K. and J.H. Cota-Sánchez. 2005. Vascular plant survey of Meadow Lake provincial park, Saskatchewan. Blue Jay 63: 179-192.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2004. Vivipary in the Cactaceae: Its taxonomic occurrence and biological significance. Flora 199: 481-490.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H., R.W. Olson, and J. Haraldson. 2004. The type collection of the W.P. Fraser Herbarium (SASK) of the University of Saskatchewan. Polibotanica 17: 131-138.

Cota-Sánchez, J. H. 2002. Taxonomy, distribution, rarity status and uses of Canadian cacti. Haseltonia 9: 1-9.

Butterworth, C.A., J.H. Cota Sánchez and R.S. Wallace. 2002. Molecular systematics of Tribe Cacteae (Cactaceae: Cactoideae): A phylogeny based on rpl16 intron sequence variation. Systematic Botany 27: 257 270.

Giussani, L.M., J. H. Cota-Sánchez, F. O Zuloaga, and E. A. Kellogg. 2001. A molecular phylogeny of the grass subfamily Panicoideae (Poaceae) shows multiple origins of C4 photosynthesis. Amer. J. Bot. 88: 1993-2012.

Cota, J.H. and R.S. Wallace. 1998-1999. Cytologie en Moleculaire Systematiek in de Familie Cactaceae. Succulenta 77: 51 54; 185 188; 234 237; 272 277; 78: 43 45.

Cota, J.H. and R.S. Wallace. 1997. Chloroplast DNA evidence for divergence in Ferocactus and its relationships to North American columnar cacti (Cactaceae: Cactoideae). Systematic Botany 22: 529-542.

Wallace, R.S. and J.H. Cota. 1996. An intron loss in the chloroplast gene rpoC1 supports a monophyletic origin for the subfamily Cactoideae. Current Genetics 29: 275 281.

Cota, J.H., J.P. Rebman and R.S. Wallace. 1996. Chromosome numbers in Ferocactus (Cactaceae: Cactoideae). Cytologia 61: 431 437.

Cota, J.H. and R.S. Wallace. 1996. La citología y la sistemática molecular en la familia Cactaceae. Cact. Suc. Mex. 41: 27 45.

Cota, J.H. and R.S. Wallace. 1995. Karyotypic studies in the genus Echinocereus and its taxonomic implications. Caryologia 48: 105 122.

Cota, J.H., R.S. Wallace and L.G. Clark. 1995. Notes on the Cacti of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Cact. Succ. Journ. (U.S.) 67: 294 300

Cota, J.H. and C.T. Philbrick. 1994. Chromosome number variation and polyploidy in the genus Echinocereus. Amer. J. Bot. 81: 1054 1062.

Cota, J.H. 1993. Pollination syndromes in the genus Echinocereus: A review. Cact. Succ. Journ. (U.S.) 65: 19 26.

Cota, J.H. 1990. The cacti of Cedros Island, Baja California, Mexico. Cact. Succ. Journ. (U.S.) 62: 294-301

Barrios, M.A., J.H. Cota and M. Medina. 1987. Una especie nueva de Peperomia (Piperaceae) del Valle de Mexico. Phytologia 65: 54-57.

Books and Book Chapters

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 2008. Evolución de Cactáceas en la region del Golfo de California, México. Pp 67-79. In: Estudios de las Islas de Baja California. Flores-Campaña, L. M. (ed). Univ. Autónoma de Sinaloa, Gov. Edo. Sinaloa-CONACyT, México. 221 pp.

Reyes-Olivas, A., V. Apodaca-Ovalle, J.H. Cota-Sánchez, and P. Casillas-Alvarez. 2008. Suelo y topografía controlan la diversidad y estructura de la vegetación insular en el desierto costero de Sinaloa.  Pp 53-66. In: Estudios de las Islas de Baja California. Flores-Campaña, L.M. (ed). Univ. Autónoma de Sinaloa, Gov. Edo. Sinaloa-CONACyT, México. 221 pp.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. and K. Remarchuk. 2005. The aquatic flora of SASKWater canal system in Saskatchewan. University of Saskatchewan Press. 41 pp.

Cota-Sánchez, J.H. 1996. A review of Ferocactus Britton and Rose.  Pp. 35-80.  In: The Genus Ferocactus: Taxonomy and Ecology. S. Yaloff and R. Brown (eds.). Termites Press, CA.

Book Reviews/Reports and Abstracts

Five book reviews and 25 reports published in proceedings and conference abstracts in the past six years.

Teaching & Supervision

Botany, Plant Systematics, Taxonomy, Reproductive Biology

Teaching Experience

·      Professor Dept. Biology University of Saskatchewan. Courses taught from July 2000 to date.  

Undergraduate courses:

Biol. 121.3 - (Diversity of Life), 

Biol. 202.3 - (General Botany)

Biol. 323.3 - (Plant Systematics & Evolution), 

Biol. 324.3 - (Plants and Human Affairs), and 

Biol. 424.3 - (Grasses and Grasslands).

Graduate courses:

Biol. 863.3 - Advanced Reproductive Biology of Seed Plants. 2013-date.

Biol. 898.3 - Current Methods in Phylogenetic Systematics, 2000 & 2001; 

Biol. 898.3 – Advanced Plant Molecular Systematics, 2004-2006; 

Biol. 898.3 – Advanced Reproductive Biology of Seed Plants. 2009-2012.

·      Professor/Instructor of Biological Sciences (General Biology and General Botany). Mineral Area College, Life Science. Dept. Missouri, USA. 1997-1998.

·      Teaching Assistant. General Biology and Plant Taxonomy. Iowa State University. 1992-1997.

·      Instructor of Botany. Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Botany Department. Mexico.

Awards, Honours and Distinctions

·      Visiting Professor - Dipartamento di Biologia. University degli Studi di Firenze. 1 July - Dec. 31, 2018.

·      Master Teacher Award - University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon, SK. May 2016.

·      Provost's College Award for Outstanding Teaching  - University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon, SK. April 2015.

·      Teaching Excellence Award. College of Arts and Science, Univ. of Saskatchewan. April 2014.

·      Teaching Excellence Award. College of Arts and Science, Univ. of Saskatchewan. April 2006.

·      Teaching Excellence Award. Student Union. University of Saskatchewan. March 2003.

·      Kenan Fellow. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Kauai, Hawaii. May 2002.

·      CFI Researcher Award. Canadian Foundation for Innovation. April 2001.

·      Specialist Group (Cactaceae) of the Species Survival Commission for the World Conservation Union. 1996-to present. Geneve, Switzerland.

·      Teaching Excellence Award. Iowa State University. May 1997.

Selection of Courses Taught (by Year)

  • 2014 - Biol. 323: Plant Systematics and Evolution
  • 2014 - Biol. 862: Advanced Reproductive Biology of Seed Plants
  • 2015 - Biol. 324: Plant and Human Affairs


Cactaceae Natural History Collections Plant Systematics Reproductive and Pollination Biology

·    Plant systematics and biodiversity, in particular phylogeny, evolution, conservation and reproductive biology in angiosperm plant families.

·    Reproductive biology and vivipary in Cactaceae and other plant families.

·    Development, management, and digitization of botanical and natural history collections.

Visit my lab Webpage at: http://www.usask.ca/biology/cota-sanchez/lab/

Visit the Herbarium Webpage at: http://herbarium.usask.ca

Education & Training

·   Postdoctoral Fellow. University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri Botanical Garden. St. Louis MO, USA. 

·   Ph.D. Botany. 1997. Iowa State University.  Ames, IA, USA

·   M.Sc. Botany. 1992. The Claremont Graduate University - Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.  Claremont, CA, USA.

·   B.Sc. Biology. 1984. Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional. Mexico.

Awards & Honours

  • Teaching Excellence, awarded by College of Arts and Sciences, University of Saskatchewan April 2014
  • Visiting Professor, awarded by Universidade de Su00e3o Paulo BRA July 2006-June 2007
  • Teaching Excellence Award, awarded by College of Arts & Sciences, University of Saskatchewan April 2006
  • Teaching Excellence Award, awarded by Student Union, University of Saskatchewan March 2003
  • Kenan Fellow, awarded by National Tropical Botanical Garden USA May 2002
  • Kenan Fellowship, awarded by National Tropical Botanic Garden USA May 2002
  • Researcher Award, awarded by Canadian Foundation for Innovation April 2001
  • Teaching Excellence Awarad, awarded by Iowa State University USA July 1997
  • Specialist Group Member, awarded by Species Survival Commission for the World Conservation Union CHE January 1996-December 2015