Author: Bernard Goffinet

New publication on mosses

Patel N., R. Medina, L.D. Williams, O. Lemieux, B. Goffinet & M.G. Johnson. Frequent allopolyploidy with distant progenitors in the moss genera Physcomitrium and Entosthodon (Funariaceae) identified via subgenome phasing of targeted nuclear genes. Evolution (in press). pdf

Abstract reads: Allopolyploids represent a new frontier in species discovery among embryophytes. Within mosses, allopolyploid discovery is challenged by low morphological complexity. The rapid expansion of sequencing approaches in addition to computational developments to identifying genome merger and whole-genome duplication using variation among nuclear loci representing homeologs has allowed for increased allopolyploid discovery among mosses. Here, we test a novel approach to phasing homeologs within loci and phasing loci across subgenomes, or subgenome assignment, called Homologizer, in the family Funariaceae. We confirm the intergeneric hybrid nature of Entosthodon hungaricus, and the allopolyploid origin of Physcomitrium eurystomum and of one population of P. collenchymatum. We also reveal that hybridization gave rise to P. immersum, as well as to yet unrecognized lineages sharing the phenotype of P. pyriforme, and P. sphaericum. Our findings demonstrate the utility of our approach when working with polyploid genomes, and its value in identifying progenitor species using target capture data.

New publication on lichens

Magain N., J. Miadlikowska, B. Goffinet, T. Goward, I. Juriado, A. Simon, C.J. Pardo De la Hoz, J. Mercado-Diaz, T. Barlow, B. Moncada, R. Lücking, A. Spielmann, L. Canez, L.S. Wang, P. Nelson, T. Wheeler, F. Lutzoni & E. Sérusiaux. 2023. High species richness in the lichen genus Peltigera (Ascomycota, Lecanoromycetes): 34 species in the dolichorhizoid and scabrosoid clades of sect. Polydactylon, including 23 new to science. Persoonia 51: 1–88. pdf GoogleScholar

Abstract readsApplying molecular methods to fungi establishing lichenized associations with green algae or cyanobacteria has repeatedly revealed the existence of numerous phylogenetic taxa overlooked by classical taxonomic approaches. Here, we report taxonomical conclusions based on multiple species delimitation and validation analyses performed on an eight-locus dataset that includes world-wide representatives of the dolichorhizoid and scabrosoid clades in section Polydactylon of the genus Peltigera. Following the recommendations resulting from a consensus species delimitation approach and additional species validation analysis (BPP) performed in this study, we present a total of 25 species in the dolichorhizoid clade and nine in the scabrosoid clade, including respectively 18 and six species that are new to science and formally described. Additionally, one combination and three varieties (including two new to science) are proposed in the dolichorhizoid clade. The following 24 new species are described: P. appalachiensis, P. asiatica, P. borealis, P. borinquensis, P. chabanenkoae, P. clathrata, P. elixii, P. esslingeri, P. flabellae, P. gallowayi, P. hawaiiensis, P. holtanhartwigii, P. itatiaiae, P. hokkaidoensis, P. kukwae, P. massonii, P. mikado, P. nigriventris, P. orientalis, P. rangiferina, P. sipmanii, P. stanleyensis, P. vitikainenii and P. willdenowii; the following new varieties are introduced: P. kukwae var. phyllidiata and P. truculenta var. austroscabrosa; and the following new combination is introduced: P. hymenina var. dissecta. Each species from the dolichorhizoid and scabrosoid clades is morphologically and chemically described, illustrated, and characterised with ITS sequences. Identification keys are provided for the main biogeographic regions where species from the two clades occur. Morphological and chemical characters that are commonly used for species identification in the genus Peltigera cannot be applied to unambiguously recognise most molecularly circumscribed species, due to high variation of thalli formed by individuals within a fungal species, including the presence of distinct morphs in some cases, or low interspecific variation in others. The four commonly recognised morphospecies: P. dolichorhiza, P. neopolydactyla, P. pulverulenta and P. scabrosa in the dolichorhizoid and scabrosoid clades represent species complexes spread across multiple and often phylogenetically distantly related lineages. Geographic origin of specimens is often helpful for species recognition; however, ITS sequences are frequently required for a reliable identification.

New publication on mosses

Hu R., X. Li, Y. Hu, R. Zhang, Q. Lv, M. Zhang, X. Sheng, F. Zhao, Z. Chen, Y. Ding, H. Yuan, X. Wu, S. Xing, X. Yan, F. Bao, P. Wan, L. Xiao, X. Wang, W. Xiao, E.L. Decker, N. van Gessel, H. Renault, G. Wiedemann, N.A. Horst, F.B. Haas, P.K.I. Wilhelmsson, K. Ullrich, E. Neumann, B. Lv, C. Liang, H. Du, H. Lu, Q. Gao, Z. Cheng, H. You, P. Xin, J. Chu, C.-H. Huang, Y. Liu, S. Dong, L. Zhang, F. Chen, L. Deng, F. Duan, W. Zhao, K. Li, Z. Li, X. Li, H. Cui, Y. Zhang, C. Ma, R. Zhu, Y. Jia, M. Wang, M. Hasebe, J. Fu, B. Goffinet, H. Ma, S.A. Rensing, R. Reski, Y. He. 2023. Adaptive evolution of the enigmatic Takakia now facing climate change in Tibet. Cell 186: 3558–3576.  pdf

The most extreme environments are the most vulnerable to transformation under a rapidly changing climate. These ecosystems harbor some of the most specialized species, which will likely suffer the highest extinction rates. We document the steepest temperature increase (2010–2021) on record at altitudes of above 4,000 m, triggering a decline of the relictual and highly adapted moss Takakia lepidozioides. Its de-novo-sequenced genome with 27,467 protein-coding genes includes distinct adaptations to abiotic stresses and comprises the largest number of fast-evolving genes under positive selection. The uplift of the study site in the last 65 million years has resulted in life-threatening UV-B radiation and drastically reduced temperatures, and we detected several of the molecular adaptations of Takakia to these environmental changes. Surprisingly, specific morphological features likely occurred earlier than 165 mya in much warmer environments. Following nearly 400 million years of evolution and resilience, this species is now facing extinction.

New publication on bryophytes

Medina R., M.G. Johnson, N. Patel, G. Tocci, D. R. Toren & B. Goffinet. 2022. Vindication of Physcomitrium pygmaeum: an elusive and endangered moss from North America’s Great Basin. The Bryologist 125: 528-540.

Abstract reads: Physcomitrium pygmaeum is an ephemeral moss described in 1871 from a single collection from Utah, currently considered conspecific with Physcomitrium pyriforme. The interpretation of the taxon has been problematic due to its rarity in the field, the elusiveness of the type material, and an extremely scattered and inconsistent collection record. Here we present a comprehensive description and assessment of the taxon following the identification of the original material and lectotype designation, the examination of all existing herbarium specimens to the best of our knowledge, the collection of fresh material in Nevada, and the molecular barcoding of the latter using four plastid and two nuclear loci. Available information, albeit scant, suggests that this member of the North American bryoflora should be considered critically endangered following IUCN criteria.

New publication on bryophytes

He S., J.R. Shevock, N. Patel, O. Lemieux & B. Goffinet. 2022. Rediscovery of Florschuetziella scaberrima (Bryophyta, Orthotrichaceae) a century after its description leads to its transfer to Leratia. Bryophyte Diversity and Evolution
45 (1): 188–198. pdf
Abstract reads: Florschuetziella scaberrima (Broth.) Vitt, previously known only from the type material collected in 1915 from Yunnan, China, was rediscovered nearly a century later in 2005. The species is morphologically indistinguishable from the Mexican endemic F. steerei Vitt, but given the paucity of material the two are provisionally retained as distinct, allopatric species. Both species exhibit traits reminiscent of Leratia neocaledonica Broth. & Paris, a species endemic to New Caledonia. A shared ancestry with the other species currently accommodated in Leratia Broth. & Paris, i.e., L. exigua (Sull.) Goffinet and L. obtusifolia (Hook.) Goffinet, and the phylogenetically nested position of Florschuetziella Vitt within Leratia supports the merger of the two generic names, and hence the transfer of species of Florschuetziella, prompting the proposed new combinations Leratia steerei (Vitt) Goffinet, S.He & Shevock and Leratia scaberrima (Broth.) Goffinet, S.He & Shevock.

New publication on bryophytes

Dong S., J. Yu, L. Zhang, B. Goffinet & Y. Liu. Phylotranscriptomics of liverworts: revisiting the backbone phylogeny and ancestral gene duplications. Annals of Botany accepted.

Abstract reads: Background and Aims — With some 7,300 extant species, liverworts (Marchantiophyta) represent one of the major land plant lineages. The backbone relationships, such as the phylogenetic position of Ptilidiales, and the occurrence and timing of whole genome duplications, are still contentious. Methods – Based on analyses of the newly generated transcriptome data for 38 liverworts and complemented with those publicly available, we reconstructed the evolutionary history of liverworts and inferred gene duplication events along the 55-taxon liverwort species tree. Key Results – Our phylogenomic study provided an ordinal-level liverwort nuclear phylogeny and identified extensive gene tree conflicts and cyto-nuclear incongruences. Gene duplication analyses based on integrated phylogenomics and Ks distributions indicated no evidence of whole genome duplication events along the backbone phylogeny of liverworts. Conclusions – With a broadened sampling of liverwort transcriptomes, we re-evaluated the backbone phylogeny of liverworts, and provided evidence for ancient hybridizations followed by incomplete lineage sorting that shaped the deep evolutionary history of liverworts. The lack of whole genome duplication along the deep evolution of liverworts indicates that liverworts might represent one of the few major embryophyte lineages whose evolution was not driven by whole genome duplications.

New publication (on new bird species!)

Rozzi R., C. S. Quilodrán, E. Botero-Delgadillo, R.D. Crego, C. Napolitano, O. Barroso, R. MacKenzie, J.C. Torres-Mura, C. Bravo, S. Ippi, V. Quirici, J. Rivero-de-Aguilar, C.G. Suazo, B. Goffinet, B. Kempenaers, E. Poulin & R.A. Vásquez. 2022. Aphrastura subantarctica: the Subantarctic Rayadito, a new bird species on the Southernmost islands of the Americas. Scientific Reports 12: 13957. pdf

In the news: FoxNews Daily Mail

Abstract reads: We describe a new taxon of terrestrial bird of the genus Aphrastura (rayaditos) inhabiting the Diego Ramírez Archipelago, the southernmost point of the American continent. This archipelago is geographically isolated and lacks terrestrial mammalian predators as well as woody plants, providing a contrasted habitat to the forests inhabited by the other two Aphrastura spp. Individuals of Diego Ramírez differ morphologically from Aphrastura spinicauda, the taxonomic group they were originally attributed to, by their larger beaks, longer tarsi, shorter tails, and larger body mass. These birds move at shorter distances from ground level, and instead of nesting in cavities in trees, they breed in cavities in the ground, reflecting different life-histories. Both taxa are genetically differentiated based on mitochondrial and autosomal markers, with no evidence of current gene flow. Although further research is required to define how far divergence has proceeded along the speciation continuum, we propose A. subantarctica as a new taxonomic unit, given its unique morphological, genetic, and behavioral attributes in a non-forested habitat. The discovery of this endemic passerine highlights the need to monitor and conserve this still-pristine archipelago devoid of exotic species, which is now protected by the recently created Diego Ramírez Islands-Drake Passage Marine Park.

Congratulations to Zach for $5,000 Lewis & Clark grant

Zach Muscavitch was awarded a grant from the American Philosophical Society for his project entitled “Resolving symbiont specificity for endemic lichens on the Channel Islands of California.” This project aims to collect Niebla lichens from the Channel Islands and characterize their fungal and algal symbionts applying a novel DNA sampling method: Target Capture. Results will complement those from the mainland to test patterns of isolation and reciprocal specificity between symbionts.


Congratulations to Olivia for Margaret F. Ertman Award

Olivia Lemieux, a graduating honors student who has been in the lab, mentoring by Niki and myself, has been awarded the Margaret F. Ertman Award in recognition of her significant accomplishments at University of Connecticut. Her project is entitled “Whole-range study reveals consistent hybrid nature and conserved progenitors of the North American endemic moss, Physcomitrium immersum.”

Each year, the Margaret F. Ertman Award is awarded to the outstanding senior across all four biology degree programs: Biological Sciences, EEB, MCB, and PNB. The student will have distinguished themselves both through outstanding scholarship in EEB, MCB, and PNB during their 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). The award is based not only on your excellent presentation at the research colloquium but also on your superb academic performance throughout your UConn career.

New publications on bryophytes

Patiño J., I. Bisang, B. Goffinet, L. Hedenäs, S. McDaniel, S. Pressler, M. Stech, C. Ah-Peng, A. Bergamini, R.T. Caners, C. Cargill, N. Cronberg, J. Duckett, S. Eppley, N. Fenton, K. Fisher, J. M. González-Mancebo, M. Hasebe, J. Heinrichs†, K. Hylander, M.S. Ignatov, J. Martínez-Abaigar, N. Medina, R. Medina, D. Quandt, S. Rensing, K. Renzaglia, M. Renner, R. M. Ros, A. Schäfer-Verwimp, J. Carlos Villarreal & A. Vanderpoorten. 2022. Unveiling the nature of a miniature world: A horizon scan of fundamental questions in bryology. Journal of Bryology 41: 1–34. pdf

Abstract reads: INTRODUCTION Half a century since the creation of the International Association of Bryologists, we carried out a review to identify outstanding challenges and future perspectives in bryology. Specifically, we have identified 50 fundamental questions that are critical in advancing the discipline.
METHODS We have adapted a deep-rooted methodology of horizon scanning to identify key research foci. An initial pool of 258 questions was prepared by a multidisciplinary and international working group of 32 bryologists. A series of online surveys completed by a broader community of researchers in bryology, followed by quality-control steps implemented by the working group, were used to create a list of top-priority questions. This final list was restricted to 50 questions with a broad conceptual scope and answerable through realistic research approaches.
KEY RESULTS The top list of 50 fundamental questions was organised into four general topics: Bryophyte Biodiversity and Biogeography; Bryophyte Ecology, Physiology and Reproductive Biology; Bryophyte Conservation and Management; and Bryophyte Evolution and Systematics. These topics included 9, 19, 14 and 8 questions, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS Although many of the research challenges identified are not newly conceived, our horizon-scanning exercise has established a significant foundation for future bryological research. We suggest analytical and conceptual strategies and novel developments for potential use in advancing the research agenda for bryology.