The Genomes Have Landed

Last but not least … ferns enter the genomic era

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):

This paper has also received some cool press–Discover Magazine, Cosmos, Earth.comCornell Chronicle, BTI press release, and  Nature Plants News & Views–it’s great to see people excited about ferns, and fern biology.


Joyce in Space

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!

Joyce in action.


Such sciencing! (I believe I even see a fern involved.)


(I promised Joyce I wouldn’t mention the standing ovation she got. But my fingers were crossed: STANDING OVATION!)


Two biologists visit an island (and its not for fieldwork)!

JoeFest 2018

Carrie and Mick went to the 2018 Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics Workshop at Friday Harbor in early June to learn from our phylogenetic heroes Marguerite Butler, Josef Uyeda, Brian O’Meara, Emília Martins, and of course, Joe Felsenstein.

The awesome location afforded them to see a “whale,” “catch” snakes, take a selfie with Joe (not pictured), learn a ton, row across an island, and make Carl proud! 


Carrie Visits MOBOT!

First stop: The Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT)! 

Carrie is embarking on a national herbarium tour to hit all of the major collections of Bomarea (Alstromeriaceae). While visiting, she is taking note of the morphological variation as well as collecting leaf samples for DNA extractions for her population genetics study of Bomarea edulis.  Pictured here with newfound botanical friends in the Arid House, a bust of Linneaus himself. Check out the morphological variability with Bomarea edulis!!

Nerds Unite for Woody Vines

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?

See the full talk here.(time 1:22:49)

The spotlight is on liana evolution at Nerd Nite East Bay!


Candidate Mick!

Mick is a PhD candidate!

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!!!

Getting the festivities going! Ah, awkward cheese. (Mick demonstrating some of his non-academic skills).


Cutting the cake.


And what a cake!!!!!! Look at those Azolla! (Culinary and artistic genius: Carrie Tribble).



Back-to-back AJB pubs from RLab grads!

On a publication roll!

Rothfels Lab grads are on an American Journal of Botany publication roll! The January issue featured Mick’s article on a previously “undiscovered” gene in the chloroplast genome of ferns, and included the the publication of the transcriptome and chloroplast genome sequence of Adiantum shastense, the Shasta Maidenhair. You know, no biggie.

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!


Farewell to GaHun- Onward to Paris!

Onwards and Upwards!

Today the Misher lab is hosting a teatime party to wish our friend and colleague GaHun Boo a warm farewell!

Gahun is heading back to his home country this weekend for a break before beginning his new adventure as a PostDoc Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris! His project title is “Mitochondrial genome diversity and biogeography of the red alga Gelidiella acerosa complex in tropical seas”.

The entire Rothfels Lab and Botany Crew wish you the best of luck!

Image by GaHun Boo