The Mason Hale Award was given to Philipp Resl for his thesis “The Evolution of Substrate Affinity in Trapelioid Lichen-forming Fungi” on the occasion of the 11th International Mycological Congress in Puerto Rico, July 16-21, 2018. Under the co-supervision of Helmut Mayrhofer and Toby Spribille, Philipp aimed to identify causes and consequences of substrate associations using phylogenetics and genomics. Based on a robust phylogeny, the monophyly of core trapelioids was confirmed; the new genus Parainoa was described, and eleven species of Rimularia were transferred to Lambiella (Resl, P; Schneider, K; Westberg, M; Printzen, C; Palice, Z; Thor, G; Fryday, A; Mayrhofer, H; Spribille, T. 2015.
Diagnostics for a troubled backbone: testing topological hypotheses of trapelioid lichenized fungi in a large-scale phylogeny of Ostropomycetidae (Lecanoromycetes). Fungal Diversity 73: 239-258). Philipp’s work also demonstrated that substrate associations of trapelioid genera exhibit strong phylogenetic signal, and were apparently present before the genera diversified. In addition, a comparative genomic dataset (of eleven lichen-forming fungi) was used to identify functional enrichment of genes under selection, exceptional codon usage, or protein expansions. Finally, Philipp discussed how substrates impact the evolution of lichens. This thesis is a great example of how genomics has propelled lichenology into an exciting new era.
– Martin Grube, Graz