Date of Award:

8-2021

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Biology

Committee Chair(s)

Zachariah Gompert

Committee

Zachariah Gompert

Committee

Paul G. Wolf

Committee

William D. Pearse

Committee

Karen Mock

Committee

Karen Kaphiem

Committee

Michael Sundue

Abstract

The history of life is often viewed as a evenly branching tree; however, in reality it is more like a tangled hedgerow. Many groups of organisms are known to have such a net-like or reticulate evolutionary history, but it is particularly common in ferns and lycophytes (also known as pteridophytes). This dissertation investigates how net-like evolution affects different groups of ferns, with a special emphasis on the model species C-fern (Ceratopteris richardii, also called the antler or water sprite fern). Genomic data are utilized to under-stand hybridization, cryptic species and reticulate evolution in two groups of ferns. The C-fern is shown to be a potential hybrid species, which has important implications for future research using this model organism.

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