My research program addresses many questions involving evolution, ecology and genetics, utilizing lichen symbioses as models. My interests can be categorized into three main areas: lichen systematics, microbiome evolution and genomics.
As models for symbiosis, lichens contain many completely unrelated associates with separate evolutionary histories. Lichen systematics can therefore produce phylogenies that reconstruct the history of the fungal partner, the photosynthetic partner, or from other microorganisms.
Our understanding of microbiome diversity and functionality in organisms and systems has rapidly advanced as new technologies have been developed and have become more accessible. Lichens have been the subject of these studies for over a decade now, however, there is still much left to do.
The study of distinct lineages as part of the lichen symbiosis opens a myriad of interesting and yet to be explored questions. A few that I am interested are regarding Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) among the symbionts and detecting genes responsible for lichenization in Basidiomycota.