Lab: Bjoern Hamberger
Ancient Moss-Fungal Symbiosis
I grew up in Washington state and completed my BS in Applied Biological Sciences at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. I have since pursued my PhD research with a focus in plant evolution and symbiotic interaction with Dr. Björn Hamberger. While at MSU I have been deeply involved with outreach and science communication and have been involved as the GGS Outreach Coordinator, a participant in Science Gallery Detroit, and a volunteer for MSU SciFest, Grandparents University, Fascination of Plants Day, and many others. My thesis work specifically is focusing on the ancient lineage and subsequent explosion of diversity among land plants with the model bryophyte species Physcometrium patens (P. patens) and the challenges overcome with transitioning from a marine environment to a terrestrial environment 500 MYA. It is believed that fungi may have provided an avenue for initial terrestrialization. This hypothesis is predicted due to the abundance of plant-fungal symbioses in present day, the inherent mutual benefit that parallels hypothesized initial terrestrialization, and existing examples, like lichen, of plant-fungal interactions providing improved fitness in both species. I am identifying the interaction between P. patens and the fungal species M. elongata through RNA sequencing and differential expression analysis, growth quantification over time through RaspberryPi image capturing and pixel quantification with PlantCV, utilizing cis elements within the DNA to induce expression and test gene function, and utilizing both species for industrial production of valuable metabolites.