Author: Bernard Goffinet

New Living Plant Collection Manager

Meghan Moriarty joined the team of the Biodiversity Research Collections, as the living plant collection manager. She comes to us from Logee’s Greenhouse, where she was Head Grower for the last 1.5 years.  Prior to that, she was the Director of Greenhouse operations for Agrivida in the UConn ABL facility for several years.  Meghan has a degree in Environmental Education from Unity College.  With extensive management experience and a deep passion for plants, she is a great addition to an excellent team maintaining and curating the diverse collection of living plants.

New invertebrate collection manager

Katrina MenardWe are delighted to welcome Dr. Katrina Menard to the BRC as the new Invertebrate Collections Manager. Katrina earned her Ph.D. in Entomology at Texas A & M University in 2011. Shortly after graduating, she assumed the role of collections manager of Recent Invertebrates at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Oklahoma. Katrina is a broadly trained entomologist with a special interest in plant bugs of the family Miridae. We are excited to have someone with her skills and experience join our team

Two new publications on lichens

Emmanuelia patinifera (photo Lücking)
Emmanuelia patinifera (photo Lücking)

Specimens deposited in CONN were included in this study accommodating species of lichenized fungi from the New World, including the Southeastern United States, in a new genus, as part of the ongoing studies of the evolution of the Lobariaceae.

Simon A., R. Lücking, B. Moncada, J.A. Mercado-Díaz, F. Bungartz, M. Cáceres, E. Gumboski, S. Maria de Azevedo Martinsi, D. Parker & B. Goffinet. 2020. Emmanuelia, a new genus of lobarioid lichen-forming fungi (lichenized Ascomycota: Peltigerales). Plant and Fungal Systematics 65: 76–94. pdf


Abstract reads: The former family Lobariaceae, now included in Peltigeraceae as subfamily Lobarioideae, has undergone substantial changes in its generic classification in recent years, based on phylogenetic inferences highlighting the polyphyly of the speciose genera Lobaria, Pseudocyphellaria and Sticta. Here we introduce the new genus Emmanuelia, named in honor of Prof. Emmanuël Sérusiaux for his extensive work on the Peltigerales. Emmanuelia currently comprises twelve species. It is superficially similar to the lobarioid genus Ricasolia, but differs by its apothecia, rimmed by overarching and often crenulate to lobulate margins, with the parathecium (proper excipulum) and the amphithecium (thalline excipulum formed by the thallus cortex) apically separated and of a different structure. Also, ascospore dimensions and shape differ between the two genera, with the ascospores of Emmanuelia being longer and narrower. Molecular phylogenetic analyses using DNA nucleotide sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) and the small subunit of mitochondrial ribosomal DNA (mtSSU) confirm that Emmanuelia belongs to the Lobaria clade and forms a monophyletic group sister to the lineage consisting of Dendriscosticta, Lobariella and Yoshimuriella. None of the available generic names of lobarioid lichens can be applied to this group, and consequently a new name is proposed for this new genus, which is typified with E. ravenelii comb. nov. Eleven other species are transferred to Emmanuelia: E. americana comb. nov., E. conformis comb. nov., E. cuprea comb. nov., E. elaeodes comb. nov., E. erosa comb. nov., E. excisa comb. nov., E. lobulifera comb. nov., E. ornata comb. nov., E. patinifera comb. nov., E. pseudolivaceacomb. nov. and E. tenuis comb. nov. The genus is represented in North America by three species, including E. lobulifera, which is resurrected from synonymy with E. (Lobaria) tenuis, a South American species, and E. ornata, whose populations were previously treated under E. (Lobaria) ravenelii.


Suspected to represent a new species, populations of Peltigerafrom Papua New Guinea are now recognized as P. serusiauxii: Magain N., B. Goffinet, A. Simon, J. Seelan Sathiya, I. Medeiros, F. Lutzoni & J. Miadlikowska. 2020. Peltigera serusiauxii, a new species in section Polydactylon from Papua New Guinea and Malaysia (Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota). Plant and Fungal Systematics 65: 139–146. pdf

Abstract reads: Peltigera serusiauxii is proposed here as a new species from Papua New Guinea and Sabah, northern Borneo (Malaysia). The species belongs to the polydactyloid clade of section Polydactylon. Because of its large thalli with a glabrous upper surface, this species was previously identified as P. dolichorhiza, but it differs by its polydactylon-type lower surface and the high amount of dolichorrhizin. It appears to be a strict specialist in its association with Nostocphylogroup IX throughout its known distribution. This is one of many undescribed species remaining to be formally described within the genus Peltigera,especially in Asia and Australasia.

Greenhouse research in Nat. Geo.!

Old math reveals new secrets about these alluring flowers. A model developed by Alan Turing can help explain the spots on these astoundingly diverse flowers—and many other natural patterns as well. This article in National Geographic highlights the recent work by Dr. Yaowu Yuan‘s lab and its work on patterning in Monkey flowers (Mimulus) which he grows in the research greenhouses of EEB.

For pictures follow this link.

Thank you to Dr. Jane O’Donnell

Dr. Jane O’Donnell officially retired from her position as Invertebrate Collection Manager. Jane had been at UCONN for 39 years, completing her undergraduate and graduate degree before serving as collection manager. Jane distinguished herself by her unconditional commitment to the collection, providing numerous opportunities for undergraduates to acquire experiences in natural history collection management, leading a course on the role and significance of natural history collections and devoting her career to the preservation, accessibility and growth of the invertebrate collection. Jane has been an inspiration to all who had the chance to work with her. She will now focus more of her time to completing some of her outstanding projects on the systematics of the true bugs (i.e., Heteroptera). Thank you for your many years of exemplary service and best wishes, from everyone in the Biodiversity Research Collections.

Vouchers for genome studies

Vouchers, that is the material from which DNA was extracted for this latest study below, are deposited in the CONN herbarium. Why are such vouchers needed, now that part of their genome is sequenced?  Species boundaries in bryophytes are constantly reassessed, and primarily based on inferences from molecular data. Ultimately, the structure in genetic and phylogenetic diversity should or may want to be contrasted to patterns of variation in morphological traits, which can only be gathered from the specimens. By preserving the biological material, we maintain the opportunity to integrate its genetic and morphological traits in a broader study. And technologies change. Nothing replaces an actual specimen.Who would have predicted 40 years ago that DNA could be extracted from preserved specimens for sequencing? Maybe Michael Crichton!

Dong S., C. Zhao, S. Zhang, L. Zhang, H. Wu, R. Zhu, Y. Jia, B. Goffinet & Y. Liu. 2020. Mitochondrial genomes of the early land plant lineage liverworts (Marchantiophyta): conserved genome structure, and ongoing low frequency recombination. BMC Genomics 20: 953. pdf

Abstract readsBackground: In contrast to the highly labile mitochondrial (mt) genomes of vascular plants, the architecture and composition of mt genomes within the main lineages of bryophytes appear stable and invariant. The available mt genomes of 18 liverwort accessions representing nine genera and five orders are syntenous except for Gymnomitrion concinnatumwhose genome is characterized by two rearrangements. Here, we expanded the number of assembled liverwort mt genomes to 47, broadening the sampling to 31 genera and 10 orders spanning much of the phylogenetic breadth of liverworts to further test whether the evolution of the liverwort mitogenome is overall static. Results: Liverwort mt genomes range in size from 147 Kb in Jungermanniales (clade B) to 185 Kb in Marchantiopsida, mainly due to the size variation of intergenic spacers and number of introns. All newly assembled liverwort mt genomes hold a conserved set of genes, but vary considerably in their intron content. The loss of introns in liverwort mt genomes might be explained by localized retroprocessing events. Liverwort mt genomes are strictly syntenous in genome structure with no structural variant detected in our newly assembled mt genomes. However, by screening the paired-end reads, we do find rare cases of recombination, which means multiple concurrent genome structures may exist in the vegetative tissues of liverworts. Our phylogenetic analyses of the nuclear encoded double stand break repair protein families revealed liverwort-specific subfamilies expansions. Conclusions: The low repeat recombination level, selection, along with the intensified nuclear surveillance, might together shape the structural evolution of liverwort mt genomes.