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Published: January 5, 2015

Evolution of Mitochondrial DNA in Ferns

Stephanie Ware, Manager, Morphology Labs, SEM

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Project Mentors: Dr. Matt von Konrat (Head of Botanical Collections, Collections Manager (Bryophytes & Ferns), Gantz Family Collections Center) and Dr. Felix Grewe (Postdoctoral Researcher, Integrative Research Center)

Project Description: Recent molecular studies of land plant evolution overwhelmingly indicate that ferns, horsetails, and whisk ferns are together the closest relatives to all seed plants. However, within this clade, the phylogenetic relationships of several fern species remain unknown due to the limited sequence data available. Today, next-generation sequencing technologies open new avenues for molecular phylogenetics and phylogenomics studies. In this project, these methods will be used to sequence and assemble the mitochondrial DNA of a water-fern species. The resulting sequence will serve as a template to identify new molecular marker sequences for the reconstruction of an improved fern phylogeny based on a selection of herbarium specimens.

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 an introduction to the literature and the handling of herbarium specimens. Molecular biology techniques will include DNA isolation of fresh and herbarium material, PCR, sequencing of PCR amplicons, and whole genome next-generation sequencing. Computational work will include assembly and analysis of next-generation sequencing data and phylogenetic reconstructions.


Stephanie Ware
Manager, Morphology Labs, SEM

Stephanie Ware is currently a research assistant in the Division of Insects currently working with Dr. Petra Sierwald. She also works with Mary Hennen in the Division of Birds monitoring the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) populations in Illinois.