Lab News

  • Corm Lobation Department Botany Lunch (2/12/2018)

    Last Friday, Forrest delivered a smashing talk focusing on his collaborative works with Will Freyman and Carl Rothfels! This project focused on tracing the best evolutionary model to explain corm lobation character transitions on the phylogeny. We all learned a ton about Isoëtes. Turns out that the most informative characters may lie below the surface #cormlobation. 

  • Three generations of polyploid enthusiast team up for a Reed College lecture! (11/27/2017)

    Mick and Dr. Jeff Doyle (Cornell) gave guest lectures at Reed College in the Genetics course taught by Prof. Jeremy Coate who advised Mick during undergrad and who was himself advised by Jeff at Cornell. Together they study the young allotetraploid complex of wild soybean (Gycine subgen. Glycine) and are always keen on inspiring young botanists! Three generations of plant scientists! 

  • NorCal (11/14/2017)

    Arcata 2017

    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!).

    Enjoying the dune forest with Carol. Lots of Pinus contorta contorta.
    The Dunes, where live many rare plants. Not so good for ferns, however.
    We made an expedition to Patrick’s Point SP to see this Selaginella, which, despite its decidedly terrestrial/rupestral nature, is S. oregana. Very cool! It’s much more “droopy” than one would expect from S. wallacei, and doesn’t have rhizophores except near the base.
    More S. oregana.
    I like S. oregana a lot.
    To round out our North Coast Selaginella, we visit a naturalized population of S. kraussiana near Humboldt State.
    Looks pretty well established to me… (all that lighter green stuff along the road is Selaginella kraussiana.)

    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!




  • We celebrate our time with Ingrid Jordon-Thaden! (11/6/2017)

    Bye Ingrid!!!!

    We wholeheartedly congratulate Ingrid Jordon-Thaden on her new position as the Director of  the Botany Greenhouse at University of Wisconsin-Madison. We thank you for all of your incredible contributions to the Rothfels Lab and we wish you success in your new gig!!

    PotLuck and cookout celebration for Ingrid! (Who brought the chips?)


    Integrative Biology students chatting it up at the going away PotLuck for Ingrid!


    Alan posing for the camera!


    Although we are sad to see you go…


    We are truly ecstatic for you!




  • Fall 2017 Lab Photo & New Members (10/30/2017)

    Rothfels lab, fall 2017

    We welcome several new lab members to the Rothfels lab! Introducing undergraduate researcher, Jonathan Qu (Left2), first year graduate student, Maryam Sedaghatpour (Left3) and two IB PhD candidates, Carrie Tribble (Right3) and Joyce Chery (Right1). We’re excited to integrate all of our interest in plant evolutionary biology! Missing and/or hiding: Sraavya, Alan, and Abby. We’ll get them next time! And really missing: Ingrid!



  • Dr. Ben Dauphin! (10/22/2017)

    Ben Defends!

    Ben Dauphin, Rothfels Lab ’15-’16, crushed his thesis defense at the University of Neuchâtel — congratulations Ben!!

    Ben and his Botrychium, ready for the show.
    Everything is clear here!
    Post-defense celebrations, with fondue, of course. (L to R: Don Farrar, Ben Dauphin, Me, Jason Grant, Michael Kessler).

    Ben’s defense, and the generousity of Jason and Michael, provided me with my first trip to Switzerland. The weather was gorgeous, the people were outstanding, even the ferns represented.

    Run-by airport photo (sorry for the blur). Just couldn’t resist–a Müesli bar? Ha!
    It’s a small world–old friends, in Zurich. (Peter Szovenyi looking so tropical in the Botanical Garden greenhouses).
    On the way from Zurich to Neuchâtel, we stopped for some outside-time in the Jura Mountains (of Jurassic fame). Scenic! Here we’re looking across Switzerland at the Alps.
    The Jura was very fall-like, with the Fagus in their full slightly bronze glory. Jason, Don, and Ben looking for botanical goodies.
    And goodies there were! Huperzia selago representing team lycophyte.
    Polystichum aculeatum, I presume?
    And finally, while we might have dipped out on the Cystopteris montana, Cystopteris fragilis hung on for us.



  • XIX International Botanical Congress (9/8/2017)

    Spectacle in Shenzhen

    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.

    This is the view out, with one’s back to the convention centre entrance. IBC was everywhere! (Shenzhen, btw, is a big city–something like 14 million people–and one of China’s “economic experimental zones” (I think I have that right). In other words, there was a Starbucks across the street, and the fastest way back to the hotel was through the mall.
    The prelude to the opening ceremonies (the tables spelled out “IBC”).
    We took a field trip to the Fairy Lake Botanical Garden and got a behind-the-scenes tour of their massive fern propagation house.
    A motley international crew of pteridologists! Including a few Rothfels lab alums. It was great to get to see so many people! (I thought the photos was from Jefferson Prado, but given that he’s there in the front row, I appear to be mistaken).
  • Fieldwork in China (9/7/2017)

    So many Cystopteridaceae!!

    Cave-master Libing Zhang and Champion Chun-Xiang Li very graciously hosted me and princely Paulo Labiak for fieldwork in Sichuan before the Botanical Congress. After a brief acclimatization in Chengdu, we hiked up Mt. Emei. It was spectacular, if humbling–we climbed up stone steps almost continually from approximately 600m elevation to 3000m. Libing played it cool, and lulled us into a sense of confidence, and then, wham, hit us with 2400 vertical meters of steps. And so many ferns! So many plants in general–it felt like the mountain had the flora of eastern North America x5 (loads of maples, Rubus, Polystichum, Cornus, Carya, etc., etc.) and then an additional flora of strange things I had never heard of before. Following Mt. Emei, we spent four days around Baoxing (the former “Muping” of, e.g., Cystopteris moupinensis fame), which was also spectacular.

    A typical view from the Mt. Emei trail. One can imagine how this area is hard to explore. How on earth did they manage to build all those temples and cart thousands of stone steps up the mountain? It boggles the mind. You can see a small temple in the middle of the photo.
    Paulo and The Infamous Steps. Well, a small sample of the infamous steps. Picture something like 40km of this. And each of these steps had to be carried up somehow???
    Food, always a highlight, and especially in Sichuan! There were a series of small restaurants along the trail, often associated with a temple. (Those little stuffed rice balls in soup were delicious).
    An unexpected friend — Mimulus! We saw two species along the hike (maybe M. szechuanensis and M. tenellus?).
    Lifer Cystopteridaceae! This is the stunning Gymnocarpium oyamense — so cool!
    Cystopteridaceae genus two of three — Acystopteris! This is probably A.japonica, but I need to investigate further.
    A brief non-botanical diversion: one of the cuter temple adornments. (Apparently the Buddha’s elephant [I didn’t realize that the Buddha had an elephant] bathed at the site of this temple).
    Rivaling G. oyamense for the botanical highlight of Mt. Emei: Cystopteris moupinensis! (And Cystopteridaceae genus three of three).
    One of our more unusual ways of getting around: on an abandoned monorail track! (Which was a little higher up than it appears in this photo).  We’re near the top of Mt. Emei — in the distance you can see the aptly named Golden Summit with its huge Buddha. After this we took a bus to the base of the mountain, and were off to Baoxing.
    Paulo demonstrating our nightly Baoxing ritual. Note the mug of wine–“Great Wall Red” was our favourite.
    The very odd Selaginella sanguinolenta.
    High up on the mountains above Baoxing. Along the short path that Paulo’s starting were at least seven species of Pedicularis (see below). And those bushes are oaks.
    One of an alarming number of Pedicularis in the area.
    And another Cystopteridaceae… moving from North America to China, I moved from Cystopteris fragilis complex confusion to Cystopteris sudetica complex confusion. What is this?? Hard to believe that it would be C. moupinensis. Maybe C. pellucida?
    Libing showing true dedication in the cause of vittarioids (or maybe in the cause of Polypodiaceae).
    The path deteriorated somewhat at this point. Falling rocks? What falling rocks? But there was Aleuritopteris!
    Baoxing is where the type specimen of the panda was collected, and pandas featured prominently in our travels in the area (not the living ones, unfortunately).
    A present for Fay-Wei!
    Libing being seduced to the dark side (Cystopteridaceae) by some very nice Acystopteris.
    Returning to the vehicles from our final hike. Very sad. Although we did see all three Cystopteridaceae genera on this one hike!
    And only fitting to close out with more food… hotpot, delicious, delicious hotpot, back in Chengdu. Thank you everyone, especially Libing and Chun-Xiang, for such a fantastic time!



  • Good bye to our summer volunteers! (8/20/2017)

    Our indentured, I mean interns are leaving! The Rothfels lab was lucky enough to host two fantastic volunteers this summer–Jonathan Qu and Sraavya Sambara. They were awesome! And while it seems like they’ve just arrived, rumor has it that summer is almost over. Very sad for us! I have a suspicion, however, that we haven’t seen the last of these two…

    Sraavya and Jonathan demonstrating their fern piracy/pipetting prowess. Also, you never know when there might be something cold around.


  • Botany 2017 – Fort Worth, Texas! (8/15/2017)

    Rothfels Lab Presented at Botany 2017

    The Rothfels Lab met up with their fellow lovers of plants at our annual meeting held jointly by Botanical Society of America, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and The Fern Society (among other groups). This year we travelled to Fort Worth, Texas! We rolled into our swanky digs after spending some days in the Oklahoma heat and dust. The conference, held at the Omni Hotel, was a small and enjoyable experience! Carl presented hot-off-the-server/sequencer data on sequence-capture approach to multi-locus nuclear phylogenetics of ferns. Ingrid presented her phylogeographic and population genetics study on Draba oligosperma from the Greater Rocky Mountain area. Forrest presented his current work on the evolution of corm lobation in Isoetes. All-in-all we were a well rounded group of Berkeley folk!

    Forrest eloquently presenting his corm lobation research.

    Tours were available to the joint property of BRIT (Botanical Research Institute of Texas) and the Forth Worth Botanic Garden.

    Special collections library at BRIT! They prepared a set of beautiful botanical illustration texts for us to drool over!
    BRIT Herbarium tour! Look at those shiny new cabinets!
    Promoting our fellow plant educators!
    Orchid house at Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.
    Japanese garden at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden. In the rain!!