Diversity of tropical lichens
2013 REU Project:
Lichen-forming fungi are a unique group of fungi that live in close associations with photosynthetic symbiotic partner (algae or cyanobacteria) that provide energy for the symbiotic system. The diversity of lichenized fungi is poorly known, especially in tropical habitats. In a project focusing on the tropical lichen family Graphidaceae, this project will address species delimitation in lichens in a phylogenetic context. DNA sequence data of different genes will be used to address the delimitation of specues. The lichens selected for this group belong to the genus Thelotrema within the family Graphidaceae (Ostropales).
Research methods and techniques: REU participants in this project will receive training in molecular and organismal research methods. They will learn how important a combination of both methods is for an understanding of the evolution of the diversity of life. The training will include introduction to the literature, handling of herbarium specimens. Chemical examination will include chromatographic methods, such as HPTLC and HPLC. Molecular methods will include DNA isolation, PCR and subsequent direct sequencing of certain gene regions. Subsequently, the analysis of DNA sequence data will be performed.
Curator/Advisor: Dr. Thorsten Lumbsch (Department Chair and Associate Curator, Botany)