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Cornell plant biologists “Thrive with Diversity” at Botany 2018

-Maria Alejandra Gandolfo

Botany 2018, the Annual Meeting of the Botanical Society of America and the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, was held in Rochester, Minnesota on July 21-26. The meeting, centered on the theme of “Thriving with Diversity”, was widely attended by over 1100 botanists with 478 oral contributions, 289 posters, and 14 workshops.  Several faculty, post-docs, graduate, and undergraduate students of the Plant Biology Section were at the meeting presenting results, holding workshops for student and faculty engagement, and presenting awards to members of our community.

Cornell breakfast at Botany 2018

Bill Crepet presented one paper “Early Tracheophyte Phylogeny: an experiment” with coauthor Karl Niklas. He coauthored a contribution with Alejandra Gandolfo and Kevin Nixon in the invited symposium –“Fossil plants at the intersection of evo-devo”, and another with his graduate student Camila Martinez. Camila won the Isabel C. Cookson Award from the Paleobotanical Section for the best paper presented by a graduate student against a highly competitive field of candidates.  Her paper was entitled: “Paleobotanical record for the Descanso­-Yauri Basin, Peru: insights into the Neogene paleoclimate and elevation history of the Central Andean Plateau.”

Jeff Doyle presented two contributed papers, one with Research Associate Sue Sherman-Broyles titled “Harnessing genome(s)-wide variation to refine understanding of the perennial members of the soybean genus (Glycine: Leguminosae)” and a second with former graduate student and postdoctoral associate, Jeremy Coate, titled “Polyploidy and evolutionary novelty in plants, 35 years after Levin”. He also a co-authored two additional two papers with Jeremy Coate.

Alejandra Gandolfo, a co-author on seven abstracts, presented one paper in the symposium “Fossil plants at the intersection of evo-devo” entitled “A Late Cretaceous Fagalean Inflorescence preserved in amber from New Jersey, USA.” that it was coauthored by Kevin Nixon and Bill Crepet. She also organized the symposium –“Plants at the Cretaceous Paleogene boundary” together with her former postdoctoral associate Nathan Jud. Her undergraduate student, Colton Poore presented the research poster “A silicified endocarp of Phytocreneae (Icacinaceae) from the early Paleocene of Patagonia, southern South America.”  His poster was one of six selected for submission to the journal of the Canadian Botanical Association.

Fay-Wei Li, a co-author on four abstracts, presented “Isoetes genome and its CAM evolution” at the colloquium “Biology of Isoetales, a colloquium in honor of Dr. W. Carl Taylor”. His co-advised PhD student, Ariana Eily at Duke University won the Edgar T. Wherry Award for the best student paper presented in the Pteridological section.

Gaurav Moghe was invited to present a talk at comparative biochemistry session, however, he could not present at the last minute due to personal reasons. Instead, he contributed slides to an introductory talk by Stacey Smith and Chris Pires, regarding the importance of phylogenetic analysis of plant metabolic diversity. Invitees of the session are currently working on a joint opinion piece on comparative biochemistry, to be published in the “On the Nature of Things” series in American Journal of Botany.

Kevin Nixon, a co-author on three abstracts, presented one paper titled “Character Homology Estimation” and was a coauthor on another in the invited symposium –“Fossil plants at the intersection of evo-devo”.  Gandolfo and Nixon organized the workshop on “Using the Cornell University Plant Anatomy Collection (CUPAC) and the Cornell University Paleobotanical Slide Collection (CUPC-slide Collection) for teaching and research” which was well attended.

Chelsea Specht was the presiding president of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, a position held by Jeff Doyle the previous year.  She was co-author on two papers “Characterizing the evolution of underground morphology and climatic niche in the Liliales” presented by graduate student Carrie Tribble, and “Monocot plastid phylogenomics, evolutionary timeline, and the power of multi-gene analyses” with Cornell co-authors Jerry Davis, Alejandra Gandolfo, and Dennis Stevenson. The poster “Phylogenetic comparative methods illuminate the macroevolutionary origin of the Amaryllidaceae umbel” was presented by Specht’s graduate student Jesús Martinez Gomez.

Dennis Stevenson, a co-author on four abstracts, presented two papers –  “Anatomy and morphology of Huperzia squarrosa” and another in an invited symposium entitled “Cycads Past and Present”.

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