2004-03: New Grant to Study Seed-Associated Fungi

March 2004 – New Grant to Study Seed-Associated Fungi

Postdoc Betsy Arnold and collaborator James W. Dalling (University of Illinois) have been awarded an NSF grant to study the diversity, distribution, and demographic effects of seed-associated fungi inCecropia (Urticaceae). Recent work regarding the ecological impact of fungal pathogens on adult plants and seedlings in tropical forests has revealed that fungal diseases can play a significant role in determining demography, spatial distributions, and population genetic structure of their hosts. Equally important, however, are the hidden effects of seed-infecting fungi that constrain seedling recruitment by limiting seed survival in the soil. Seed-infecting fungi are likely to play an especially critical role for pioneer species that depend upon transient or persistent soil seed banks for colonization of infrequent canopy disturbances. Arnold and colleagues will conduct a detailed ecological and molecular taxonomic characterization of the suite of seed-infecting fungi (endophytes, saprophytes, and pathogens) associated with multiple species of Cecropia in three neotropical sites (Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador).


2003-11: First AFToL Visitor, New Graduate Student

November 2003 – First AFToL Visitor, New Graduate Student

Our lab welcomes two new arrivals: Damien Ertz, the first visiting scholar supported by the NSF AFTOL grant, and Suzanne Joneson, a new Ph.D student.

Damien, a Ph.D. student in lichenology at the National Botanical Garden of Belgium, is working to revise the paleotropical Opegrapha (crustose lichens). During his four-month stay at Duke, Damien is focusing on molecular systematics of the family Roccellaceae.

Suzanne completed her Master’s research (systematics of the Ramalina almquistiicomplex) at the University of Washington, and joined the Lutzoni lab in August to explore the molecular and genetic bases of lichen symbioses. Her interests center on elucidating the genes and molecular processes involved in the formation of lichen associations.


2003-02: Three new postdocs, NSF recipient

February 2003 – New Postdocs, NSF Recipient

On January 1, 2003, three new postdocs have joined our lab. Cymon Cox and Valérie Hofstetter will play an active role in Assembling the Fungal Tree of Life (AFTOL) project. Valérie, is the coordinator of the activities related to the sequencing of 7 loci (ca. 10 kb) for 400 lichenized and allied ascomycete species. Cymon in collaboration with Frank Kauff is responsible for the development of the bioinformatic structure of this project.

Betsy Arnold is the recipient of an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Microbial Biology to develop an eco-phylogenetic approach to study previously unexplored questions of fungal endophyte evolution.