Good bye to our summer volunteers!

Our indentured, I mean interns are leaving! The Rothfels lab was lucky enough to host two fantastic volunteers this summer–Jonathan Qu and Sraavya Sambara. They were awesome! And while it seems like they’ve just arrived, rumor has it that summer is almost over. Very sad for us! I have a suspicion, however, that we haven’t seen the last of these two…

Sraavya and Jonathan demonstrating their fern piracy/pipetting prowess. Also, you never know when there might be something cold around.


Botany 2017 – Fort Worth, Texas!

Rothfels Lab Presented at Botany 2017

The Rothfels Lab met up with their fellow lovers of plants at our annual meeting held jointly by Botanical Society of America, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and The Fern Society (among other groups). This year we travelled to Fort Worth, Texas! We rolled into our swanky digs after spending some days in the Oklahoma heat and dust. The conference, held at the Omni Hotel, was a small and enjoyable experience! Carl presented hot-off-the-server/sequencer data on sequence-capture approach to multi-locus nuclear phylogenetics of ferns. Ingrid presented her phylogeographic and population genetics study on Draba oligosperma from the Greater Rocky Mountain area. Forrest presented his current work on the evolution of corm lobation in Isoetes. All-in-all we were a well rounded group of Berkeley folk!

Forrest eloquently presenting his corm lobation research.

Tours were available to the joint property of BRIT (Botanical Research Institute of Texas) and the Forth Worth Botanic Garden.

Special collections library at BRIT! They prepared a set of beautiful botanical illustration texts for us to drool over!
BRIT Herbarium tour! Look at those shiny new cabinets!
Promoting our fellow plant educators!
Orchid house at Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.
Japanese garden at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden. In the rain!!


Oklahoma Fieldwork

Fieldwork in the Wichitas and Arbuckles

The Botany meeting was in Fort Worth this year (post on that to follow), and in advance of the meeting, James Beck organized fieldwork in the Wichita and Arbuckle Mountains, Oklahoma. Over the course of the week we found 27 species of ferns and lycophytes (I think that was our final tally), which seems quite respectable to me! Our team included James from Wichita State, me (Carl), Forrest, and Ingrid from UC Berkeley, George Yatskievych from UT Austin, and Layne Huiet, Wei-Ting, and Tzu-Tong Kao from Duke. Good times and chiggers were had by all.

Forrest, Layne, Ingrid, James, on top of Elk Mountain, in the Wichita Mountains. Look at that parasol Ingrid’s sporting!
Ingrid being a keener and field-pressing her plants.
Happy Myriopteris gracilis on a limestone “mountain” not far from the Wichitas.
And the highlight of said limestone mountain–Astrolepis integerrima! I think it gave James flashbacks.
Wichita Mountains, special use area: plotting our next steps. The staff biologists were absolutely fantastic, and extremely generous with their time.
An exceptionally lovely Centurea sp. specimen.
Ingrid: a study in the perils of underestimating the muck. But she really wanted that Potamogeton
Quartz Mountain, near the Wichitas. Surprisingly, rather lacking in quartz. But boasting an abundance of Notholaena standleyi and some Myriopteris wootonii!
Quartz Mountain Myriopteris rufa.
And the infamous Desert Star Cloakfern, Notholaena standleyi! Such a cracker. Just look at those farina!
Back in the Wichitas proper, and against all odds, Myriopteris lindheimeri in the “Juniper Plantation.” This is maybe Oklahoma’s only site for this species? (There’s also Myriopteris rufa hiding there–the greener ones).
Wichitas Woodsia (obtusa). Question–is the plant at the top the same as the one on the bottom?
Some visitors came to help with the plant pressing.
James and Ingrid were particularly excited about the Cherry Coke “Tall Boys”.
Took a much needed dip at the Turner Falls Park.
Then off to the Pontotoc Ridge Nature Preserve (thank you Nature Conservancy!), where there were some very cute angiosperms.
The Pontotoc Ridge wet meadows were past their prime, but still gorgeous.
There be Isoetes butleri along that drainage! (At Pontonoc Ridge).


At the fieldhouse we had a very small very fiesty visitor (a Copperhead?).  No botanists or snakes were injured in the recording of this video.


Another great victory of “twitching” for plants–this cliff was full of Cystopteris tennesseensis (Bois D’Arc Creek).
Such swanky digs for our plant pressing!
Couldn’t say it better myself.
Also very true.



A Shocker in Berkeley

A Shocker in Berkeley

The Wichita State Shockers–truly a legend among college mascots.

The Rothfels lab was blessed with a visit from a proud shocker, the legendary Dr. James Beck, of Wichita State. “Shocker” — one who harvests wheat into shocks? Or, in this case, an animated shock itself:






James was here for a labwork blitz, refining a protocol for generating genome-scale data from herbarium specimens using double-digest RAD sequencing (ddRAD). Over the course of a week, he and Ingrid ground through two plates of samples, from beginning to end. Very excited to see how this works out!

This is what labwork looks like in the Rothfels lab. Personally, I think they’re having too much fun.
The delicate work of helping ethanol evaporate. Valuable use of time!!

In between pipetting and bead clean-ups, James squeezed in some spore counting from apomictic Myriopteris gracilis (32 spores/sporangium = apomict; 64 spores/sporangium = sexual). In a flurry of glycerol and microscopy, he was able to count his 600th specimen–look for the results soon in a journal near you.

27, 28, 29, …

James’ visit also provided us with an excuse to get outside and look for some lycophytes! Over the course of some happy tromping in Marin Co. we found both Isoetes howellii and Isoetes nuttallii, as well as a nice smattering of ferns.

Forrest working on his Isoetes nuttallii sampling.