The Power of Movement in Plants

Roger Hangarter. Dept. of Biology, Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN 47405; 812 855-5456; fax: 812 855-6082;

Wendy K. Silk. Dept. of Land, Air, and Water Resources, Univ. of Calif., Davis, CA 95616; 530 752-0686; fax: 530 752-1552; email:

A symposium on Power of Movement in Plants is proposed to accompany and publicize the AJB volume celebrating the work of Charles Darwin. As a group, plants are generally considered to be among the slowest forms of life. But as Darwin showed, plants undergo a wide range of movements. Through his clever experiments and keen observations he described movements from the very slow to those that are too fast for the eye to see. He showed that many plants movements occur in response to specific environmental stimuli. He showed that in some cases, sites of perception were spatially separate from the regions responsible for the movement. He predicted that transmittable substances were involved and, depending on the movement, he proposed the substance to be chemical or electrical. His ideas about the significance of the plant behaviors revealed by the movement responses were important to the development of his ideas about evolution.

This symposium highlights studies of a range of plant movements, including several that Darwin studied in his work. The speakers will present the latest results about the physical and molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the different movements and attempt to place the new findings in the context of what Darwin described. The speakers will cover movements that span many orders of magnitude in their speed (milliseconds to seasons). The movements presented will span size scales from whole parts of plants to subcellular movements. Collectively, the symposium will demonstrate that plants are highly sensitive and responsive to their surroundings and that the movements of plants have important implications for adaptation and evolution.

The Greatest Opportunists of all: Celebrating 40 years of Job Kuijt’s "Biology of Parasitic Flowering Plants"

Christopher P. Randle. Sam Houston State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Huntsville, TX 77341; Phone: (936) 294-1554; Fax: (936) 294-3940;

Jeffery J. Morawetz. University of Michigan Herbarium, 3600 Varsity Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108-2228; Phone: (734) 936-3335; Fax: (734) 763-0544;

David C. Tank. University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Moscow, ID 83844-1133; Phone: (208) 885-7033; Fax: (208) 885-6564;

Parasitic plants have held a particular fascination throughout history, from the mistletoe of Scandinavian myth to the agriculturally devastating witchweeds of Africa, the tiny-flowered medicinal misnomer, the Maltese fungus, to the largest flower in the world, Arnold’s Rafflesia. 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of the great synthetic work "The Biology of Parasitic Flowering Plants" by Job Kuijt. Compiling knowledge of systematics, anatomy, morphology, physiology, and ecology, Kuijt provided an overview of all groups of parasitic plants, initiating research programs in these diverse disciplines of botany. Since 1969, some of the most exciting research in these fields as well as the new fields of molecular evolution, phylogenetics and genomics has centered on this enigmatic group of plants. Through all of this, Kuijt\'s work remains as insightful and relevent as it was in the year of its publication. In this symposium we celebrate Kuijt’s achievement and the many discoveries that his work inspired.

The Challenges Posed by Large Data Sets in Assembling the Plant and Fungal Trees of Life

Michael J. Moore. Oberlin College, Biology Department, Science Center K111, 119 Woodland St., Oberlin, OH 44074-1097; Phone: (440) 775-6876; Fax: (440) 775-8960;

Pam Soltis. University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History, PO Box 117800, Gainesville, FL 32611, Phone: (352) 273-1964;

Doug Soltis

The National Science Foundation’s Assembling the Tree of Life (AToL) program is transforming our understanding of the plant and fungal Trees of Life by allowing systematists to increase the size of phylogenetic data sets dramatically. A number of AToL projects spanning the phylogenetic diversity of plants and fungi have been funded over the past 6 years. This symposium brings together researchers from various AToL projects, including the angiosperm, gymnosperm, liverwort, and fungal projects, in a forum to discuss the analytical and bioinformatics challenges posed by large-scale phylogenetic data matrices. Talks will highlight the problems and progress inherent in acquiring and analyzing large-scale data sets. Specific talks will address such topics as the collection, coding, and phylogenetic use of morphological data for large numbers of taxa; phylogenetic analyses of genome-scale data (particularly the plastid genome); multigenome phylogenetic analyses; database design and information retrieval for the huge amounts of data generated by ToL projects; assessing phylogenetic informativeness in genome-scale data; and using large data matrices in plants and fungi to search for codivergence across these two eukaryotic crown groups. We believe this symposium will be of broad interest to the botanical and fungal communities. In combination with the associated colloquium (see below), this symposium has several additional important benefits: (1) it will showcase the results of these important AToL initiatives to the greater botanical and mycological communities; (2) it will allow researchers from the various AToL projects to interact, and in particular to address issues common to all AToL projects, such as large data set construction and analysis, and the proper databasing and usage of morphological and molecular data; and (3) it will provide experience and exposure to junior researchers of diverse backgrounds.

The topics of the symposium talks progress from (1) morphological data to (2) bioinformatics to (3) phylogenetic analyses of genome-scale data sets to (4) dealing with more specialized synthetic analyses such as phylogenetic informativeness profiling and molecular codivergence analyses.

Phylogenetic and functional patterns of host plants and their associated fungi: implications for symbiotic co-evolution, community interactions, and ecosystem processes

Louise Comas. Intercollege Graduate Program in Ecology Department of Horticulture The Pennsylvania State University, 103 Tyson Bldg, University Park, PA 16902; Phone: 814-865-0697 ; FAX: 814-863-6139;

Amy Tuininga. Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY 10458; Phone: 914-273-3078, ext. 13; Fax: 914-273-2167;

Hilary Callahan. Department of Biological Sciences, Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027; Phone: 212-854-5405;

There is growing appreciation of plant-fungal interactions as important forces structuring communities and affecting ecosystem processes. Nearly all plants form associations with fungi and have since the first plants colonized terrestrial landscapes. Current and impending global climate change has compelled us to better understand the history and nature of these interactions, how they have directed plant-fungal co-evolution, ultimately affecting community interactions and ecosystem function. This line up of speakers will present emerging hypotheses on evolutionary processes governing the co-evolution of symbioses between plants and fungi, and evidence of phylogenetic and biogeographic patterns found among plants and fungi and their implications, facilitation of symbionts in structuring communities, and impacts on ecosystem processes.

Environmental Climate Change : The role of marine and aquatic photosynthetic organisms in the global carbon cycle

Anitra Thorhaug. 1359 SW 22 Terrace, Miami, Fl 33145; phone 305-868-0014; fax 305-858-6697

Our symposium intends to update botanists about interactions between photosynthetic organisms in the sea and inland waters and the global carbon cycle, especially in the context of anthropogenic effects influences such as additional carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. The organisms concerned range from picophytoplankton to macro-algae and to seagrasses, salt marsh plants and mangroves. We have assembled an array of international experts to discuss their recent results and concepts. We hope that synergisms among the speakers with the audience will help to lead the direction of expected progress in the next decade and more.

The oceans contain 95% of the carbon in the atmosphere-biosphere system (38,000 Giga tonnes). Man's activities are adding 8.5 million tonnes of carbon as carbon dioxide each year from fossil fuel burning and cement manufacture and 1.5 million tonnes per year from deforestation. There are two sinks removing this anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: the ocean (removing about 26% of the carbon emitted) and terrestrial vegetation (removing about 29%). The remaining 45% remains in the atmosphere, contributing to an increased greenhouse effect.

The anthropogenic carbon dioxide taken up by the oceans over the last two centuries has decreased the pH by about 0.1 unit, with an increase in dissolved carbon dioxide, a smaller relative increase in bicarbonate, and a decrease in carbonate. A further decrease, by up to 0.5 pH units in total, is predicted by 2100 , limiting the extent of the future capacity for removal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. These changes are expected to have differential effects on photosynthetic primary productivity by the range of phosynthetic organisms, as well as having differential effects on calcification by photosynthetic and other organisms. These predictions of variable effects of environmental change are related to the much greater phylogenetic diversity of aquatic primary producers than of embryophytic plants on land. It is vital that increased knowledge of inorganic carbon assimilation in marine and freshwater systems is used to improve models of global biogechemical cycles, and to inform suggestions about increasing carbon dioxide sequestion in the ocean. The symposium will include a wide array of studies including the problems of the carbonate cycle within the oceans and the process of plant photosynthesis effecting this complex cycle, the freshwater carbonate cycle, the predictions of the role of plankton, as well as benthic photosynthesis, and some solutions for sequestration. International experts will be featured.

Genome, Phenome, Environment, and Evolution of Land Plants

Yin-Long Qiu. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology The University Herbarium 830 North University Avenue University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048; Tel: 734-764-8279; FAX: 734-763-0544; Email:

Recent advancement in genomics, phylogenetics, developmental biology, and paleontology has provided a fresh opportunity to re-investigate the questions related to the origin and evolution of land plants from a broad synthetic perspective. In this symposium, a slate of speakers with specialties that bridge genomics and phenomics (physiology, morphology, ecology, and paleontology) will present new and exciting results that are likely to bring our understanding of land plant evolution to a new level. The symposium will stimulate more research on land plant evolution with genome/phenome scale data at the organism-environment level.

Tropical and Subtropical Lichens: Diversity and Floristics

Thomas H. Nash III. SoLS, Arizona State University, Box 874501, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501; (480) 965-7735 or 965-7133 (phones); (480) 965-7133 (FAX);

Although lichens are well known as dominant organisms in polar regions, they are also abundant in tropical regions, where their diversity and ecological roles are poorly documented. On-going research is in part rectifying this situation and will be featured in this symposium, ranging from modern revisionary investigations, phylogenetic analyses based on molecular and morphometric data, conservation issues involving a rare and endangered species, and dynamics of foliicolous lichen communities, a lichen microhabitat largely restricted to tropical ecosystems. Some of the speakers include people who do not normally interact with North American ABLS members.

Unusual Fungal Niches

Sharon A. Cantrell, School of Science and Technology, Universidad del Turabo, Gurabo,PR 00778

Fungi are ubiquitous in most ecosystems where they usually colonize a wide diversity of substrates. It is not surprising then that fungi can persist in habitats such as the Arctic, Antarctic, desserts and hypersaline environments, among others. The objective of this symposium is to present not only the diversity of fungi in some unusual ecosystems but also what ecological role these fungi are doing. We will explore fungi in the Antarctic, in glaciers in the Arctic, salterns for the production of salt, microbial mats, hydrothermal vents, and the inside of lichens.

Multiplicity of Fungal Form and Function in Arctic-Alpine Ecosystems

Cathy Cripps, Montana State University, Email:

The Arctic-Alpine Biome covers 8% of the earth’s land and indicators suggest these cold-dominated environments are sensitive to global climate change. Integral to the functioning of these ecosystems are a multiplicity of intricate interactions between photosynthetic organisms and fungi. Fungi alter the flow and cycling of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements to proximate vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, and algae via a myriad of pathways, many of which are unknown. This symposium addresses recent findings that reveal the functioning of psychrophilic Zygomycota beneath snow, unique interactions of Ascomycota on bryophytes, response of willows (a dominant AA vegetation type) to warming, along with patterns of associate Basidiomycota in nitrogen cycling and ectomycorrhizal diversity, with a final overview of Arctic-alpine fungi and global warming.

The Evolution of Plant and Fungal Interactions - From Communities to Genomes

Georgiana May, University of Minnesota

Symbiotic interactions between plants and fungi have consequent fitness outcomes which must drive short- and long-term evolutionary processes. Although individual instances of pair-wise symbioses can be characterized as strongly beneficial or antagonistic, and theoretical models provide some testable hypotheses, we yet lack a strongly predictive framework setting expectations for more ecologically realistic, complex multi-species interactions and for genome-level responses. In this symposium, we gather investigators generating empirical and theoretical results for the evolution of plant-fungal interactions in an ecological context.

Teaching with basal fungal lineages

Martha J. Powell Box 870344 Department of Biological Sciences/The University of Alabama/ Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 Email:, Telephone= 205-348-9017

Lower fungi offer outstanding examples of organisms that can illustrate biological processes as well as biodiversity. However, in botany, biology and mycology courses, lower fungi are often given cursory attention because of difficulty in accessing cultures that perform well and experiments that are amenable to a 2-3 hour laboratory period. In 1978, over thirty years ago, MSA held a workshop on lower “fungi” at the University of Georgia resulting in the manual “Zoosporic Fungi in Teaching and Research.” However, we now have a generation of teaching professionals who have not been introduced to lower fungi as excellent teaching tools. With an increased understanding of the importance basal fungi in the evolution of fungi, as well as an increased awareness of their impact on the environment, it is timely to disseminate information about cultures and techniques that work in the teaching laboratory. In this symposium, we present examples of performing lower fungi suitable for undergraduate teaching laboratories. Printed and digital material will be distributed to attendees, and a collection of ten exemplary lower fungal cultures will be available for educational purposes to the community on request from the symposium presenters.

The Conservation Biology of Fungi

Anne Pringle, Dept of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University,16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

Global change, habitat loss and the homogenization of Earth’s biota threaten biodiversity. In North America there may be twice as many fungi (at least 37,800 species) as plants (18,400 species) and yet their conservation has attracted little attention (Wilcove and Master 2005). Only 226 fungal species (0.6%) are classified as imperiled or critically imperiled, in contrast, 2917 plant species (16%) are listed as imperiled or critically imperiled (NatureServe 2008). Either fungi are less likely to be endangered than plants, or we are lacking a great deal of information. The objective of this symposium is to explore the nascent field of fungal conservation biology, draw on the expertise of botanists present at the meeting, and continue a dialogue about whether and how fungal species may be threatened.

Assembling the Plant and Fungal Trees of Life: Progress and Challenges

Michael J. Moore. Oberlin College, Biology Department, Science Center K111, 119 Woodland St., Oberlin, OH 44074-1097; Phone: (440) 775-6876; Fax: (440) 775-8960;

Due to the tremendous positive responses we received from the members of the various plant and fungal ToL projects when organizing this symposium, we are proposing an associated afternoon colloquium which will continue the talks and discussion from the various AToL groups. The colloquium talks cover a broader range of taxa and phylogenetic problems, but all involve the progress and problems posed by large data sets. We believe that these colloquium speakers will bring additional important insight to the challenges of large-scale phylogenetic analyses.


For additional information or questions, please contact:
Johanne Stogran
Botanical Society of America
(740) 927-8501