Current Research Projects
Vanuatu is a South-Pacific archipelago of more than 80 islands, situated roughly equidistant between New Caledonia, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands, all of which are globally recognized biodiversity hotspots. Vanuatu’s biota is considered an important component of the region’s status as a global center of biodiversity, and the "Vanuatu rain forest" vegetation type is recognized as an endangered terrestrial eco-region. Despite its importance, however, Vanuatu’s flora and mycota remain poorly documented, leaving a significant gap in our knowledge of its biotic and biogeographic relationships with neighboring regions, all of which have active or completed flora projects. No floristic checklists exists for Vanuatu, rendering it a “biodiversity black hole.” This project will complete the first comprehensive botanical, mycological, and associated linguistic survey of Tafea, the southernmost province of Vanuatu, resulting in specimen-based checklists and monographic treatments of the flora and mycota. The project will undertake extensive field studies designed to sample the entire elevational, vegetational, and seasonal floristic and mycological diversity of the province. The role of the Perry lab in this broad project is to document the fleshy macrofungi of Tafea province. [read more]
Diversity and Evolution of endophytic fungi associated with native Hawaiian Plants
Found inside the healthy leaf tissue of every plant species yet examined, foliar fungal endophytes have been shown to play a critical role in mediating how hosts interact with their abiotic environment and with other organisms including pathogens and herbivores. Though invisible to the naked eye, endophytic fungi form ubiquitous and hyperdiverse communities spanning hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary history. It is suspected that these cryptic symbionts comprise a large portion of the estimated 98% of fungal species diversity that remains undocumented.
This project consists of a systematic and comprehensive biological inventory of fungal foliar endophytes of native and endemic Hawaiian plants to accomplish the following goals:
Complete a thorough biodiversity survey of foliar endophytic fungi from native Hawaiian plants.
Develop a phylogenetic hypotheses for Hawaiian endophytic fungi.
Integrate fungal community data and ecological data to predict patterns of diversity and inform future surveys.
Use comparative phylogenetic methods to test for phylogenetic signal in specialization patterns between host species and endophytes.
Combine phylogenetic, ecological and phenotypic data to name and preserve novel fungal species.