Humans have their genomes sequenced, there’s a lycophyte genome, a moss genome, a liverwort genome, shloads of angiosperm genomes… but until this week no fern genome had been sequenced. It was the last frontier! But we need wait no longer — with the publication earlier this week of “Fern genomes elucidate land plant evolution and cyanobacterial symbioses” we have not one, but two fern reference genomes: Azolla filiculoides and Salvinia cucullata. Special congratulations to lead author (and former Rothfels Labmate) Fay-Wei Li, by whose blood, sweat, and tears (mostly tears) this achievement was made possible.
And it got the cover! Who can blame them — look at this beauty (photo credit: Laura Dijkhuizen):
Dinner with a scientist, and not just any scientist!
Twice a year, 220 guests come together at the Chabot Space and Science Center for “Dinner with a Scientist.” And on May 8th that scientist was…. Joyce!!!
The program includes a TED-talk style presentation from the keynote speaker (did I mention that that was Joyce?) describing their personal journey in science, group discussions, and science activities, with the goal of bringing together Oakland middle- and high-school teachers, their students, and local scientists.
Congratulations to Joyce for her work to inspire a current generation of educators and a future generation of scientists!
(I promised Joyce I wouldn’t mention the standing ovation she got. But my fingers were crossed: STANDING OVATION!)
Joyce brings the wonder of lianas to the Oakland masses
The Rothfels lab outreach all star does it again! Joyce, bringing the weird world of wood to Nerd Nite East Bay (“be there and be square” — best slogan ever.) I wasn’t able to make it 🙁 , but a few well-placed spies reported back that she did a fantastic job! You might think it would be a tough sell, getting a non-scientific audience excited about the evolution of woody vines, but Joyce made it look easy. Second standing ovation for the month?
On the entirely coincidental date of 4.20, Mick passed his quals! And with flying colours, by all accounts. Thanks to Ben, Brent, Britt, and Cindy for being on his committee, and to Carrie for organizing the celebrations. And congratulations to Mick!!!
And today come the announcement that Forrest’s study of the continued evolutionary morphological simplification of Isoetes is available online! This result is super cool–showing that the pattern of morphological reduction for their once large tree-like ancestors is continuing in Isoetes. However, I have a particularly soft spot of the methods: this paper demonstrates the power of reversible jump MCMC and Bayesian model averaging (and irreversible models of character evolution) for studying processes of morphological evolution. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this type of approach!
Cindy Looy, Nathalie Nagalingum, Michael Sundue, and I (Carl, in this case), are delighted that our grant proposal to apply “total evidence dating” (TED) methods to infer the timeline of vascular plant evolution has been (almost completely) approved! In lieu of embarrassing photos of the PIs, I’ll post here some of the figures from our application, to provide somewhat of a feel for what this project entails.
In which Carl goes to actual NorCal (or is it NoCal?) to spread the fern gospel with the North Coast Chapter of the CNPS (California Native Plants Society). A great time was had by all, or at least by Carl (thanks to Carol Ralph!).
And finally, vertebrates put on a pretty good show too, including this spectacular 8-inch or so beauty: Dicramptodon tenebrosus. It was just sitting there at Patrick’s Point!
The 19th International Botanical Congress, IBC 2017, was held from July 23 to 29. And a spectacle it was! Shenzhen pulled out all the stops–Olympics-style opening ceremonies complete with dancing children, huge living walls, the sides of skyscrapers lit up, free metro passage for everyone, airport style security to enter the building …. you name it! I’m not sure exactly how many people were there–the estimates I saw were around 6 to 7 thousand–but it was a lot. And great to meet old friends, make new ones, and see a lot of science! I didn’t take many photos, but will include a few here to give a taste.