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Author Archives: Bernard Goffinet

New publication

Members of the lab contributed (while at UCONN) to this study:

Carvalho-Silva M., M. Stech, L.H. Soares-Silva, W.R. Buck, N. J. Wickett, Y.Liu & P.E.A.S. Câmara. 2017. A molecular phylogeny of the Sematophyllaceae sl (Hypnales) based on plastid, mitochondrial and nuclear markers, and its taxonomic implications. Taxon 66: 811–831.

Abstract reads: The Sematophyllaceae s.l. (Sematophyllaceae + Pylaisiadelphaceae) is a family of pleurocarpous mosses that is widely distributed throughout the globe, with centers of diversity in tropical forests. The circumscriptions of the family and its genera have been unstable, due to reductions in morphological complexity and alternative weightings of discrete morphological traits. Based on a sample spanning much of the generic diversity of the family, we inferred the phylogenetic relationships within the Sematophyllaceae s.l. from the variation in eight molecular markers from all three genomes (nuclear, mitochondrial, chloroplast). The Sematophyllaceae s.l. was resolved as monophyletic, as was the Sematophyllaceae s.str.; whereas the Pylaisiadelphaceae was found to be paraphyletic, although its monophyly could not be rejected. The morphological definition of the Pylaisiadelphaceae remains dubious, in the absence of unambiguous synapomorphies. The relationships of the clades of Pylaisiadelphaceae and Sematophyllaceae are discussed with respect to the circumscription of morphogenera, with a focus on the Sematophyllaceae crown clade (Aptychopsis, Chionostomum, Colobodontium, Donnellia, Macrohymenium, Paranapiacabaea, Pterogoniopsis, Rhaphidorrhynchium, Schroeterella, Sematophyllum, Warburgiella). Most genera of Sematophyllaceae were resolved as polyphyletic (e.g., Acroporium, Donnellia, Schroeterella, Sematophyllum, Trichosteleum) indicative of severe homoplasy in their putative diagnostic traits. We propose 4 new genera (Brittonodoxa, Microcalpe, Pocsia, Vitalia) and 19 new combina- tions (Aptychopsis cylindrothecia, A. estrellae, A. tequendamensis, Brittonodoxa allinckxiorum, B. cataractae, B. lithophila, B. squarrosa, B. steyermarkii, B. subpinnata, Microcalpe subsimplex, Pocsia matutina, Pterogoniopsis paulista, Schroeterella exigua, Trichosteleum amnigenum, T. lonchophyllum, Vitalia caespitosa, V. cuspidifera, V. esmeraldica, V. galipensis).

New publication on fungal mitogenome

Antoine Simon, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Liège, Belgium, published his assembly and study of the structure of the mitochondrial genome in a lichen forming fungus: Simon, A., Y. Liu, E. Sérusiaux & B. Goffinet. 2017. Complete mitogenome sequence of Ricasolia amplissima (Lobariaceae) reveals extensive mitochondrial DNA rearrangement within the Peltigerales (lichenized ascomycetes). The Bryologist 120(3): 335–339. pdf Google Scholar

Abstract reads: The structure of mitochondrial genomes varies among non-lichenized fungi in terms of their genic and intronic content and genic order. Whether lichenized fungal mitogenomes are equally labile is unknown due to the paucity of available mitogenomes. We assembled the mitogenome of Ricasolia amplissima (Peltigerales, Lobariaceae), using massive parallel sequencing, and compared its structure to that of two species of Peltigera (Peltigeraceae). The mitochondrial genome of R. amplissima comprised 82,333 bp, with a 29.8% G+C content, and holds 15 unique protein-coding genes, 29 tRNA genes, two rRNA genes, and one non-coding RNA gene. Although the protein-coding gene content in the mitogenome of Peltigera and Ricasolia was identical, the relative gene order differed substantially, revealing that significant gene rearrangements also characterize the evolution of mitogenomes of lichenized ascomycetes at a relatively shallow phylogenetic depth, such as within the order Peltigerales.


New publication on Arctic Bryophyte Research

Lily Lewis (formerly in our lab and now at the University of Florida) lead-authored a paper outlining needs of and for bryological research in the Arctic.  Lewis L.R., S.M. Ickert-Bond, E.M. Biersma, P. Convey, B. Goffinet, K. Hassel, H.J.D. Kruijer, C. La Farge, J. Metzgar, M. Stech, J.C. Villarreal & S.F. McDaniel. Future directions and priorities for Arctic bryophyte research. Arctic Science 3: 475–497. pdf (open) Google Scholar

Abstract reads: The development of evidence-based international strategies for the conservation and management of Arctic ecosystems in the face of climate change is hindered by critical knowledge gaps in Arctic floristic diversity and evolution. Particularly poorly studied are the bryophytes, which dominate the vegetation across vast areas of the Arctic and consequently play an important role in global biogeochemical cycles. Currently, much of what is known about Arctic floristic evolution is based on studies of vascular plants. Bryophytes, however, possess a number of features, such as poikilohydry, totipotency, several reproductive strategies, and the ability to disperse through microscopic diaspores, that may cause their responses to Arctic environments to differ from those of the vascular plants. Here we discuss several priority areas identified in the Arctic Council’s “Arctic Biodiversity Assessment” that are necessary to illuminate patterns of Arctic bryophyte evolution and diversity, including dispersal, glacial refugia, local adaptation, and ecological interactions with bryophyte- associated microbiomes. A survey of digitally available herbarium data archived in the largest online aggregate, GBIF, across the Arctic to boreal zones indicates that sampling coverage of mosses is heterogeneous and relatively sparse in the Arctic sensu stricto. A coordinated international effort across the Arctic will be necessary to address knowledge gaps in Arctic bryophyte diversity and evolution in the context of ongoing climate change.

Dinah wins the Margaret F. Ertman Award in Biology

Winners of the 2017 biology undergraduate award, including Dinah (second left), co-awardee of outstanding biology senior.

Dinah Parker presented the results of her research spanning the last year and a half at today’s biology undergraduate symposium. Her talk was entitled: One fungus- two lichens: Dendriscocaulon intricatulum is the cyanomorph of the endemic Eastern North American Ricasolia quercizans.

Her academic and research achievements (co)earned her the Margaret F. Ertman Award for the outstanding senior across all four biology degree programs: Biological Sciences, EEB, MCB, and PNB. Awardees are recognized for having distinguished themselves both through outstanding scholarship in EEB, MCB, and PNB during his or her undergraduate career, and through original research conducted in biology (broadly defined) at UConn.

The Margaret F. Ertman Award was established in 1983 by Irvin L. Ertman (class of 1939) and Ronnie Ertman (class of 1941) in honor of their daughter Margaret F. Ertman (class of 1974).



Lab members at meetings

Three members of the lab will presenting their research at the upcoming meeting of the Botanical Society of America and the American Bryological Society in Fort Worth, Texas, June 24–28:

Rahmatpour N., B. Goffinet & J. Wegrzyn. 2017. Significant unsuspected genomic innovation in Funaria: is ecophysiological selection driving the evolution of the Funariaceae?  Abstract 363.

Simon A., N. Magain, B. Goffinet & E. Sérusiaux. 2017. Macroevolutionary patterns of an unsuspected species-rich lichen radiation: insights from the genus Sticta.  Abstract 431.

Parker D. & B. Goffinet. 2017. One fungus-two lichens: Dendriscocaulon intricatulum is the cyanomorph of the Eastern North American endemic Ricasolia quercizans (Lobariaceae). Abstract 445.

Lindgren H., B. Moncada, R. Lücking, N. Magain, A. Simon, E. Sérusiaux, B. Goffinet, T. Widhelm & T. Lumbsch. 2017. Species in the lichenized fungal genus Sticta (Lobariaceae) associate with green algae from multiple genera in the family Trebouxiophyceae. Abstract 173.

Congratulations to Dinah

Dinah (a biology major who has explored “dual personalities” in lichen forming fungi!) was accepted in and received a fellowship for the two-year research oriented Masters Erasmus+ Joint Master’s Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME). This programme funded by the European Union seeks  talented and motivated students who are interested in understanding evolution in all its facets. CONGRATULATIONS DINAH.

New publication: patterns in diversity

A commentary on patterns of the distribution of liverwort and hornwort diversity appeared in the Journal of Biogeography:

Wang J., A. Vanderpoorten, A. Hagborg, B. Goffinet, B. Laenen & J. Patiño. Evidence for a latitudinal diversity gradient in liverworts and hornworts. Journal of Biogeography 44: 487–488. (DOI: doi: 10.1111/jbi.12909) pdf Google Scholar

New publication: Peltigera

Magain N., J. Miadlikowska, B. Goffinet, E. Sérusiaux, & F. Lutzoni. 2017. Macroevolution of specificity in cyanolichens of the genus Peltigera Section Polydactylon (Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota). Systematic Biology 66: 74–99. pdf

Abstract reads: Patterns of specificity among symbiotic partners are key to a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of symbiotic systems. Specificity of mutualistic partners, within a widespread monophyletic group for which all species are sampled has rarely been explored. Here, we assess the level of specificity between the cosmopolitan lichen-forming fungus (mycobiont) from the genus Peltigera, section Polydactylon, and its cyanobacterial partner Nostoc (cyanobiont). The mycobiont and cyanobiont phylogenies are inferred fromfive nuclear loci and the rbcLX region, respectively. These sequences were obtained from 206 lichen thalli, representing ca. 40 closely related Peltigera species sampled worldwide, doubling the number of known species in this group. We found a broad spectrum of specificity for both partners ranging from strict specialists to generalists. Overall, mycobionts aremore specialized than cyanobionts by associating mostly with one or a few Nostoc phylogroups, whereas most cyanobionts associate frequently with several Peltigera species. Specialist mycobionts are older than generalists, supporting the hypothesis that specialization of mycobionts to one or few cyanobionts, is favored through time in geographic areas where species have been established for long periods of time. The relatively recent colonization of a new geographic area (Central and South America) by members of section Polydactylon is associated with a switch to a generalist pattern of association and an increased diversification rate by the fungal partner, suggesting that switches to generalism are rare events that are advantageous in new environments. We detected higher genetic diversity in generalist mycobionts. We also found that Peltigera species specialized on a single Nostoc phylogroup have narrower geographical distributionscompared with generalist species.

Diego Ramirez trip in Chilean news

Following an interview with the Prensa Austral the following article was published on Sunday December 25, 2016 highlighting the framework for our recent exploration of Isla Gonzalo of the Diego Ramirez islands, a 100 km  SW of Cape Horn (Chile). See also some pictures taken on Isla Gonzalo.


Best dissertation award to Lily


lilyCongratulations to Lily Lewis whose dissertation entitled “Resolving bipolar phylogeographic histories in the common dung moss Tetraplodon (Bryopsida: Splachnaceae)” earned the “Greg and Mona Anderson Ecology and Evolutionary Biology best Ph.D. dissertation award”.  Lily is now Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida with Dr. Stuart MacDaniel. Well done.