Our student researchers presented the results of their summer’s work in a poster session on Friday afternoon in the Testa atrium. We had a great turnout, and the scientific breadth covered by the various posters was really impressive – reminder how enriching it is to be in a department that includes biology, chemistry, and physics.
Super proud of Melissa, Emily (who had to run to practice before the photo was taken; I will have to photoshop her in…), Aleeza and Madison. Nice job, ladies, keep up the good work!
Our paper, Molecular and morphological delimitation and generic classification of the family Oocystaceae (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta), is now accepted in Journal of Phycology (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpy.12581/full). The article sorts the diversity of Oocystaceae into subfamilies and clades based on molecular and morphological data. Many thanks to my fabulous coauthors, especially to the lead author Lenka Štenclová, who will be coming to work with me for a couple of months at Assumption College starting next week!
NEAS April 21st-23rd, Bretton Woods, NH.
The Northeast Algal Symposium (NEAS) this year was all fancy in the Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. As usual, the meeting was student-focused and the grad and undergrad presentations were nothing short of amazing. And behold, I presented a fancy poster in sunrise hues.
PSA June 4th-8th, Monterey, CA.
As usual, the annual meeting of the Phycological Society of America (PSA) was a blast. Great Bold Award session, a multitude of other fabulous talks, and of course, a truly epic symposium on terrestrial algae organized by my academic sister Dr. Nicole Pietrasiak (New Mexico State University). Live tweets from the talks added a new dimension to the talks – it is interesting to see a 140 character version of one’s work! #phyco2017
A couple of interesting field trips were also part of this trip – a tour of the Pacific Biological Laboratories once run by Ed Ricketts, a close friend and collaborator of John Steinbeck. What a spectacular intersection of science and literature! http://www.canneryrow.org/
And lastly, I managed to sneak out for a visit to Point Lobos, a wonderful natural area with lively intertidal communities, including the giant green anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica (the host of symbiotic green algae of the genus Elliptochloris) and whole lawns of gorgeous corallines.
Looking forward to next year in Vancouver!
The Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy in North Windham, CT had its third annual bioblitz on Friday May 19th 2017. Of course, I wouldn’t miss it for the world, and this time I brought Emily and Melissa along for the fun. The grand total this year was 162 species, with plants being the winning group (even over insects!), although I am sure more species will be added as the contents of the student-made insect traps are checked and identified this week. The Barrows students now have three years of species data to analyze!
It was a long and hot day for sure, and we went algae hunting on our way home (with moderate success), so definitely action-packed. Found Lemanea and some other filamentous stream macrophytes for later examination and DNA work, but not the elusive Tuomeya americana we were looking for. The search continues.
I am super excited to be mentoring Melissa Taylor and Emily Norman this summer. Melissa will work on culturing and sequencing Oonephris obesa and Cylindrocapsa geminella – the goal will be to obtain and characterize their organellar genomes. Emily will be working on a floristic project comparing the algal species diversity in selected Massachusetts and New Hampshire wetlands to historical records.
In addition I am very happy to learn that several of my fabulous volunteers will be returning in the fall to do more floristics and iNaturalisting. Here’s Charlotte’s Synura and Mallomonas, Luke’s Dinobryon (taken under phase contrast), and Victoria’s Merismopedia – one of her great finds in the samples she collected on Cape Cod!
Synura from the Assumption College pond (by Luke), Phormidium from the AC pond (by Charlotte) and a lovely Ulothrix from Indian Lake (by Emily). Nicely done! Now if only the winter would finally end and let us go collect more extensively.
The weather has been mostly spring-like these past couple of weeks and algae are definitely out and about in local water bodies. I have sampled a few wetlands including boggy pools and larger ponds and lakes in NH and MA – and the pickings are good! As is typical for the spring, the samples are dominated by chrysophytes, synurophytes, dinoflagellates and diatoms.
Colonial chrysophyte of the genus Uroglena
Colonial chrysophyte Chrysostephanosphaera
Green alga of the genus Tetraspora – note the pseudocilia (nonfunctional flagella) coming off of the side of the colony
Uroglenopsis americana, a colonial chrysophyte. Upon careful look, you can see the gelatinous stalks holding the colony together.
Mallomonas caudata, a scaled, bristled synurophyte.
A dinoflagellate, likely of the genus Gymnodinium.
Some kind of a parasite (left) sucking the life out of a diatom (right).
Some of the peat bogs also harbored desmids, my favorite kind of algae, and several species of euglenoids, both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic (the latter are species or genera that have secondarily lost their photosynthetic superpowers).
Micrasterias truncata, a pretty desmid
Cylindrocystis brebissonii, a relative of desmids from the family Mesotaeniaceae
Anisonema, a non-photosynthetic euglenoid; image taken under phase contrast
Undoubtedly the best find was the colonial chrysophyte Cyclonexis annularis. This genus and species is considered rare and to my knowledge has not yet been reported from NH. It has, however, been spotted in the 1940’s in Andover MA, not too far from here. This little critter was swimming fast, so I could not snap a good close-up picture; I only managed to shoot a quick video of it swimming. The colony is bracelet-shaped with individual flagellated cells attached to one another by their sides. Previous authors report the colonies being very fragile and easily falling apart by physical disturbance (bumping into something) and by application of fixatives such as alcohol. Thus, I’ll probably have a hard time getting a better picture!
PS: I’ve logged all my observations into my iNaturalist project: http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/freshwater-algae-of-new-england-and-new-york