following is the summary the currently funded NSF project (DEB
0235919 and 0235985)
"Current Research" for more information.
interpreted as the oldest extant assemblage of land organisms, the
hornworts are a crucial group in characterizing early patterns of
In spite of a recent renewed interest in land plant evolution
and a near “explosion” in phylogenetic investigations of mosses
and liverworts, the systematics of hornworts has remained relatively
unexplored. This proposal outlines a detailed collaborative project that
will provide a
portrait of the phylogeny, biodiversity and biogeography of the
Information on genetic and morphological biodiversity will
be accumulated for the first time for hornworts collected from multiple
geographic regions by an international assemblage of experts on
these plants. The program goals are to: 1)
establish a robust worldwide phylogeny of hornworts; 2) produce
a revised classification; and 3) identify
biogeographic patterns of hornwort diversification. This first ever study that focuses on hornworts will greatly
expand knowledge of this widespread but relatively obscure group
of plants, and will also explore more
global issues relating to biological diversification and biocomplexity.
first goal will be achieved through the analyses of multiple molecular
data sets and comprehensive data sets representing morphological,
ultrastructural, functional and developmental characters.
Gene sequences generated from all three genomes have
been selected to provide an appropriate number of informative sites
to resolve hornwort phylogeny at all hierarchical levels. Morphological data will encompass
features that are emphasized in taxonomic treatments and new ultrastructural
data that enable within hornwort comparisons as well as more global
comparisons with other green plant groups. The resulting estimate of hornwort relationships
will be used to inform decisions on classification.
This approach will clarify the present poorly defined familial,
generic, and specific boundaries.
Comparative morphological investigations will provide critical
data in evaluating hypotheses of adaptive evolution within the group
and in placing these innovations into the broader context of plant
evaluated in conjunction with distribution areas of hornwort
species, phylogenetic analyses will enable
a first reconstruction of the biogeographic history of the group.
Accordingly, global patterns of diversification
and specific questions relating to southern hemisphere biogeographic and biodiversity will tested.
PIs have demonstrated a strong commitment to providing enriching
and supportive educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate
students. Both have
been involved in a number of university and community initiatives
to develop research and professional experiences for elementary,
high school and undergraduate students.
The PIs stress teamwork and are committed to establishing
a supportive mentoring network for all members of their laboratory.
Students involved in the project will engage in all aspects
of the research enterprise, including professional activities such
as presenting at meetings and publishing manuscripts.
Rotations between the PIs laboratories will provide exposure
to the range of techniques and analytical methods that are available
the director of the Undergraduate Research Program at SIUC and as
an active member of the Center for Systematic Biology, K. Renzaglia
will provide a broad base of experiences for training students in
plant systematics. As
a new researcher and faculty member, J. Duff already has gained recognition
in the university community for his devotion to quality education. Since 1999, he has attracted seven undergraduates and one graduate
student to his laboratory and these students have approached problems
relating to the systematics and evolution of a wide range of organisms,
including animals, plants and protists.
Moreover, the international component of this proposed program
will provide the resources and opportunities for students to explore
collaboration with students and scientists from a diversity of cultures
and backgrounds. By the
dissemination of data through the construction of a website dedicated
to the project, awareness of hornwort biology will be extended to
the global scientific community as well as the general public.
Clearly, support of this program on hornwort systematics will
have an impact on the infrastructure of education within the PIs institutions,
communities and beyond. It
is an investment in American education and a positive step toward
training a future generation of informed and skilled scientists.