My Master’s project is investigating the genetic variation of the lichenised green algae, Diplosphaera chodatii, from the semi-aquatic lichen Dermatocarpon luridum in Payuk Lake, Manitoba. This lichen grows on granitic rocks along lakeshores found within the Boreal Shield of northern Manitoba. Often with genetic variation, the distance between sample populations can have an effect, where those that are closer together are often more related than populations occurring farther apart. In dynamic hydrological systems, with inflows and outflows within a lake, water flow may also influence the distribution of populations, and therefore the genetic variation.
As part of my project, I had the great opportunity to visit the LESA Lab under Dr. Yolanda Wiersma at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. During my visit, we were able to determine various distances between my samples to use in correlation tests with the genetic variation of my algal species.
We calculated the Euclidean distance between my samples, as well as the distance between my samples along the shoreline (which is about 18km around the perimeter and very windy). We also created a stream flow network using Digital Elevation Models of my study area to see if the flow direction may influence the genetic variation of my samples, and calculated the Euclidean and relative distances between my samples within the stream network. With these new techniques and methods in hand, I can now return to the University of Manitoba, finish processing my samples (DNA extraction and sequencing) and do some really amazing analyses to determine the spatial variation of my samples and how it correlates with the genetic variation I hope to undercover.
But that’s not all I did! The LESA lab has been awesome in welcoming me to Newfoundland! We did a lichen tour of Pippy Park and some lichenising (the looking at lichens in their natural habitat) around Salmonier Line with the local lichenologist Mac Pitcher. Newfoundland has some AMAZING lichens! I was taken to Cape Spear and was literally blown away from the beauty of it all! I touched the Atlantic Ocean and saw my first iceberg (also the first of this year’s season). I visited the site where Terry Fox collected ocean water for his dream of connecting Canada in a common cause. I made lots of new friends (thanks LESA lab!) and tried all of the local foods (Cods tongues, Fish n’ brewis, Cod au Gratin, Fish and Chips (with cod of course!), and lobster, along with many local beers and berry preserves). I also visited the GeoCenter and Signal Hill, because who doesn’t like amazing views and really old rocks? And although the weather was less than ideal (I got a real taste of a Newfoundland “Spring”), the experiences, people, and food were the very best!
Thank you to Dr. Yolanda Wiersma and the LESA Lab (Andrew, Matt, Emma, Emilie, and Rachel) for making my visit a memorable one and full of exciting experiences, and for all your help in my project! You all rock!