Department News

2012-02-24

Professor Stephen P. Hubbell, Assistant Researcher Brant Faircloth, and other Collaborators awarded a $1.9 million grant from NSF

Professor Stephen P. Hubbell and Assistant Researcher Brant Faircloth were awarded a $1.9 million grant from NSF entitled: "Dimensions: Testing the Potential of Pathogenic Fungi to Control the Diversity, Distribution, and Abundance of Tree Species in a Neotropical Forest Community".

Senior personnel on the grant are Stephen P. Hubbell, Brant C. Faircloth, Gregory S. Gilbert (UCSC), Travis C. Glenn (Univ. of Georgia), Megan Saunders (UCSC) and this is one of the NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity grants.

This 5-year project integrates taxonomic, genetic, genomic, and functional approaches to test the Enemy Susceptibility Hypothesis (ESH) for tropical tree diversity and rarity. The ESH predicts that rare tree species will have a greater percentage of hollow-trunk trees, harbor more pathogenic fungal species, and also share more of these pathogens with other tree species, than common tree species. The research team will address these predictions using a combination of field sampling, fungal culturing, metagenomics, phylogenetics, pathogenicity testing of fungal cultures, and genome and transcriptome sequencing of fungal pathogens. The broader impact of the research project includes participation of high school and college students, as well as high school science teachers, from California, Georgia, and Panama, in the day to day field work of our project. The participants will travel to Panama and take a two-week field-biology course entitled “Integration of molecular and field approaches to evolutionary ecology” offered by the principal investigators and senior personnel.