Author: Bernard Goffinet

Antoine Simon Join lab on BAE fellowship

Antoine SimonAntoine Simon, who graduated from the University of Liège, Belgium, is joining our lab for a year, based on a fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation. Antoine’s research focuses on lichenized fungi and their symbiotic partners, their evolution and diversification, and interactions.

Antoine has stayed at UCONN twice before as part of his Master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation projects.

New publications on bryophytes

Abstract_FigureCollart F., J. Wang, J. Patino, A. Hagborg, L. Söderström, B. Goffinet, N. Magain, O.J. Hardy & A. Vanderpoorten. 2021. Macroclimatic structuring of spatial phylogenetic turnover in liverworts. Ecography in press. pdf

Abstract reads: Phylogenetic turnover has emerged as a powerful tool to identify the mechanisms by which biological communities assemble. When significantly structured along environmental gradients, phylogenetic turnover evidences phylogenetic niche conservatism, a critical principle explaining patterns of species distributions at different spatio–temporal scales. Here, we quantify the contribution of geographic and macroclimatic drivers to explain patterns of phylogenetic turnover in an entire phylum of land plants, namely liverworts. We further determine whether climatic niche conservatism has constrained the distribution of liverworts in the course of their evolutionary history. Two datasets, one insular, focused on 60 archipelagos and including 2346 species, and the second global, including 6334 species in 451 oceanic and continental operational geographic units (OGUs) worldwide, were assembled. Phylogenetic turnover among OGUs was quantified through πst statistics. πst-through-time profiles were generated at 1 Myr intervals along the phylogenetic time-scale and used to compute the correlation between πst, current geographic distance and macroclimatic variation with Mantel tests based on Moran spectral randomization to control for spatial autocorrelation. The contribution of macroclimatic variation to phylogenetic turnover was about fourtimes higher than that of geographic distance, a pattern that was consistently observed in island and global geographic settings, and with datasets including or excluding species-poor OGUs. The correlation between phylogenetic turnover and geographic distance rapidly decayed at increasing phylogenetic depth, whereas the relationship with macroclimatic variation remained constant until 100 Mya. Our analyses reveal that changes in the phylogenetic composition among liverwort floras across the globe are primarily shaped by macroclimatic variation. They demonstrate the relevance of macroclimatic niche conservatism for the assembly of liverwort floras over very large spatial and evolutionary time scales, which may explain why such a pervasive biodiversity pattern as the increase of species richness towards the tropics also applies to organisms with high dispersal capacities.


New publications on bryophytes

Frangedakis E., F. Guzman-Chavez, M. Rebmann, K. Markel, Y. Yu, A. Perraki, S. Wai Tse, Y. Liu, J. Rever, S. Sauret-Gueto, B. Goffinet, H. Schneider & J. Haseloff. 2021. A system for rapid genome engineering and hyper-expression in plastids. ACS Synthetic Biology 10: 1651–1666. pdf Google scholar

Abstract reads: Chloroplasts are attractive platforms for synthetic biology applications since they are capable of driving very high levels of transgene expression, if mRNA production and stability are properly regulated. However, plastid transformation is a slow process and currently limited to a few plant species. The liverwort Marchantia polymorpha is a simple model plant that allows rapid transformation studies; however, its potential for protein hyperexpression has not been fully exploited. This is partially due to the fact that chloroplast post-transcriptional regulation is poorly characterized in this plant. We have mapped patterns of transcription in Marchantiachloroplasts. Furthermore, we have obtained and compared sequences from 51 bryophyte species and identified putative sites for pentatricopeptide repeat protein binding that are thought to play important roles in mRNA stabilization. Candidate binding sites were tested for their ability to confer high levels of reporter gene expression in Marchantia chloroplasts, and levels of protein production and effects on growth were measured in homoplastic transformed plants. We have produced novel DNA tools for protein hyperexpression in this facile plant system that is a test-bed for chloroplast engineering.

Zach in the news for the Teloschistes discovery

Zach is mentioned in this article in The Chronicle about the discovery of Teloschistes chrFront page article in the Chronicleysophthalmus and other  species in Connecticut.

The original publication is:

Frye H.A., Z. Muscavitch & B. Goffinet. 2021. Discovery of epiphytic lichens in Connecticut suggest novel introduction and reintroduction via horticultural practices. The Bryologist 124: 191–197.


New publication on mosses

Patel N., R. Medina, M. Johnson & B. Goffinet. 2021. Karyotypic diversity and cryptic speciation: Have we vastly underestimated moss species diversity? Bryophyte Diversity and Evolution 43: 150–163.

Abstract reads: Karyotypic diversity is critical to catalyzing change in the evolution of all plants. By resulting in meiotic incompatibility among sets of homologous chromosomes, polyploidy and aneuploidy may facilitate reproductive isolation and the potential for speciation. Across plants, karyotypic variants in the form of allopolyploids receive greater taxonomic attention relative to autopolyploids and aneuploids. In particular, the prevalence and significance of autopolyploidy and aneuploidy in bryophytes is little understood. Using Fritsch’s 1991 compendium of bryophyte karyotypes with augmentation from karyological studies published since, we have quantified the prevalence of karyotypic variants among ~1500 extant morphological species of mosses. We assessed the phylogenetic distribution of karyological data, the frequency of autopolyploidy and aneuploidy, and the methodological correlates with karyotypic diversity. At least two ploidy levels were recorded from 17% of species potentially increasing current taxonomic diversity of mosses to over 15,000 species. We find that for a given species, the number of unique karyotypes recorded is correlated with the number of populations sampled. The evidence suggests that cytological diversity likely underlies yet undescribed species diversity in mosses, and that intensive karyological sampling is a needed tool for its discovery.


New publication on bryophytes

Cole T.C.H., H.H. Hilger, J.B. Bachelier, B. Goffinet, P.F. Stevens, N.M. Shiyan, S.L. Zhygalova & S.L. Mosyakin. Spanning the Globe – The Plant Phylogeny Poster (PPP) Project. Ukrainian Botanical Journal: Short Communication 78(3): 235–241.

Abstract reads: Historically, wallcharts and posters created by botanical illustrators, often highly skilled artists, have played an important role in teaching botany at the university level. Large-scale panels and posters can visualize complex interrelationships and entire stories in a clear and appealing overview in graphs, tables, and diagrams. Carrying this concept of educational tools into the electronic era, the Plant Phylogeny Poster project uses this approach for displaying evolutionary relationships in systematic botany. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Poster (APP) displays, as phylogenetically arranged clades, the orders and families of flowering plants (with orders hyperlinked to APweb, Stevens, 2001–onwards), the Tracheophyte Phylogeny Poster (TPP) families and genera of ferns and gymnosperms, and the Bryophyte Phylogeny Poster (BPP) orders and families of liverworts, mosses, and hornworts. The portfolio currently also includes about 30 posters on individual orders and families of angiosperms. Each group within these evolutionary trees is matched with essentially relevant morphological features, biogeographic occurrences, and other information in compactly condensed text blocks. All posters are freely available online, some in more than 30 languages, coauthored by a team of more than 130 botanists. The posters are regularly updated, current literature is cited. The project is expanding steadily and rapidly.

Congratulation to Rafa!

Rafael Medina, a former postdoc in our lab, lead-authored the paper: Medina, R., M.G. Johnson, Y. Liu, N.J. Wickett, A.J. Shaw & B. Goffinet. 2019. “Phylogenomic delineation of Physcomitrium (Bryophyta: Funariaceae) based on targeted sequencing of nuclear exons and their flanking regions rejects the retention of Physcomitrella, Physcomitridium and Aphanorrhegma” and published in the Journal of Systematics and Evolution 57: 404–417 in 2019.

In 2019, this publication earned the Special issue paper award from the Journal of Systematics and Evolution.

In 2021, the journal awarded him, for this publication, the “JSE Outstanding Paper by Young Investigators Award”, which will be announced in the latest issue of 2021.

Rafa is now a faculty member at the University of Madrid.


Congratulations Rafa.


Congrats to Zach: ABLS 2021 Culberson and Hale award

Congratulations to Zach who was awarded the ABLS 2021 Culberson and Hale award ($1,000) for field research in lichenology ($1,000) from ABLS (American Bryological and Lichenological Society) for field work in Mexico, based on his proposal entitled “The search for Niebla & Trebouxia: a lichenologist goes south”. Enjoy the trip!