Chicago GPPRCG Fern Mini-Workshop

October 6, 1998
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Department of Botany
The Field Museum of Natural History

The Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group (GPPRCG) sponsored a fern mini-workshop in Chicago on October 6, 1998. A small group of participants working primarily on basal tracheophyte and basal fern relationships was invited. This provided an opportunity for discussions and interactions on topics related to the general goals of the GPPRCG as well as to upcoming meetings listed below. Specific topics addressed included:

Dr. Peter Crane (The Field Museum; absent)
Dr. Jean-Yves DuBuisson (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France; present)
Jeffrey Hunt (The Field Museum; present)
Dr. Kathleen Pryer (The Field Museum; present)
Dr. Harald Schneider (Rijksherbarium, The Netherlands; present)
Sedonia Sipes (Utah State University; absent)
Dr. Alan Smith (University of California, Berkeley; present)
Bill Speer (Utah State University; present)
Dr. Paul Wolf (Utah State University; present)
Ankur Vaghani (University of Illinois at Chicago; present)
Harit Bhatt (University of Illinois at Chicago; present)


9:00am ­ A morning field trip to the Fern House at Garfield Park Conservatory in downtown Chicago was organized. The Fern House is a tropical landscape that was built by the Danish landscape architect Jens Jenson in the early 1900's. Maintenance of the fern collection has suffered considerably over the years. The Deputy Director of Conservatories, Adam Lifton-Schwerner, and his staff provided a tour and participants provided updates and corrections to the fern identifications. Some collections were made that were relevant to participants' research projects.

1­3pm - General meeting covered basic goals of the GPPRCG and of this particular fern mini-workshop. Most of the discussion focused on databasing and its importance to coordinating the activities of the fern sub-group in particular, and of the GPPRCG in general. Plans were confirmed for the fern sub-group's approach to databasing issues. Individual updates were presented on progress with morphological and molecular data matrices relevant to the GPPRCG.

3-5pm­ UIC undergraduate, Ankur Vaghani, presented the FileMaker Pro database that he helped to initiate at Field Museum during the summer of 1998,while working as a REU intern for K. Pryer, P. Wolf, and A. Smith¹s NSF collaborative research NSF grant. Jeffrey Hunt, working with K. Pryer in the Field Museum's Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution, demonstrated his creative handiwork in the final and elaborate FileMaker Pro "Fern DNA Database", which he developed and has made accessible to everyone as a read-only database via the internet.

6pm- Discussions continued over dinner at the PrimaVera Restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Chicago.



Databasing and the coordination of Data Availability Matrices (DAM) are critical to the success of the GPPRCG. The fern sub-group has made considerable progress in this area and the "Fern DNA Database" that they have developed will be showcased this summer as a "live poster" at the IBC Congress in St. Louis:
IBC XVI poster presentation: Hunt*, Jeffrey S., Alan R. Smith, Kathleen M. Pryer, and Paul G. Wolf. "Fern DNA Database": using FileMaker Pro to coordinate DNA-availability, DNA-sequence data, and voucher and source information for large-scale and collaborative phylogeny studies.
Our "Fern DNA Database" attempts to put on record DNA-availability, DNA-sequence data, and important voucher and source information for various species of ferns and "fern allies" being used in the labs of Kathleen Pryer, Paul Wolf, Chris Haufler, Tom Ranker, and Alan Smith (labs with current NSF funding to pursue phylogenetic studies of ferns using molecular data). This database enables one to access the 700+ records currently available and in use by these investigators. For each taxon in the GPP project (and other projects) one can track vouchers used for each gene, locate where DNA is available, and view the gene sequence data and alignments pertinent to any relevant studies. The database is updated regularly at the Field Museum, as additional taxa and data become available to us. A link to this OnLine Database is available through the following website: 2. Progress on the morphological and molecular matrices is on target. Morphology progress: Kathleen Pryer and Alan Smith are coordinating efforts with Harald Schneider to incorporate several new root characters in their matrix. Plans to target developmental and anatomical studies that could potentially yield informative new characters about basal fern relationships were discussed. Molecular progress: Kathleen Pryer and Paul Wolf have assembled rbcL, atpB, and 18S alignments for all GPP priority taxa. Work is in progress for 26S. We compiled a list of pteridophyte taxa and genes for which molecular data are still needed, and discussed ways to get the additional material.

3. Comments on the benefits of the GPPRCG to coordinating research efforts in the fern community were noted. Areas of future focus were discussed. Suggestions included: