Ferns were on full display at this year’s Science Slam at Black Pine Circle School, a K-8 private school in Berkeley, California. Graduate student Mick Song participated alongside several scientists and science educators in kicking off a week of science for the middle schoolers. Showcasing several exciting ferns and lycophytes from Costa Rica and telling them about the exciting Azolla event, Mick introduced several students to the world of pteridology. However, there were several intrepid students who already were pressing plants at home! The youth are alright!
Rothfels Lab graduate student Mick Song has caught the microbiome bug! After finishing a project studying the variation in the microbiota of Daphnia magna across genotypes, populations, and temperatures with longtime collaborator Dr. Sarah Schaack at Reed College, he gave a guest lecture and tutorial on microbiomes in Dr. Jeremy Coate‘s Bioinformatics course last November.
Now he is teaming up with Dr. Jordan Metzgar curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech (who taught Carl how to do PCR many years ago!) and undergraduate student Amber Reaney to explore the possibility of capturing microbial diversity in herbarium specimens of Azolla, building off of the recent work of Daru and colleagues . While they break new ground in the herbarium, Mick will be in the lab with live Azolla trying out some exciting protocols for extracting and characterizing the microbial diversity in the leaf pockets of Azolla across the genus. Although the Azolla-Nostoc symbiosis has been well-described , the community composition of the bactobionts as a whole remains poorly understood. Who knows what they will find!
Lead by Robbin Moran and co-instructed by Carl Taylor and Jarmila Pittermann, the two intrepid Rothfels lab members spent two weeks in Costa Rica visiting Las Cruces, Las Alturas, and La Selva. The course focused on the identification of ferns and over the course of the trip they encountered all of the tropical fern families and learned over 80 genera!
This was the 50th anniversary of the famous course that Carl took in 2008. Our very own Alan Smith took the first course in 1967!