Dr Jill Kowal

Dr Jill Kowal

Research Assistant, NERC

Department: Life Sciences
Division: LS Algae, Fungi and Plants Division
Phone: +44 (207) 942 5276

Specialisms

plant-fungal interactions; bryophytes; liverworts; plant culture; vegetation ecology; restoration ecology; mycorrhizal symbiosis

Summary

My research focuses on associations and interactions between early land plants (mainly liverworts and early-diverging vascular plants) and fungi (Mucuromycotina and/or Glomeromycotina groups) using in-vitro and natural microcosms. This work supports a NERC-funded research project, ''Shifting symbiotic scenarios at the dawn of land plant-fungus associations”, which aims to better understand the origin and function of plant-fungi mutualisms and their evolutionary innovations. The potential application of these functional and nutritional exchanges for both restoration ecology and agricultural innovations are just beginning to unfold. Exciting questions lay before us to discuss, test and collaborate both in the laboratory and real world settings. Background: My PhD research focused on heathland plants and their mycorrhizal partners. Specifically, I tested indigenous liverworts as an inoculum for heathland vascular plant restoration, as they share the same mycorrhizal fungus as the Ericaceae plants which dominate heathlands. Nursery experiments support the use of liverworts as a 'biological fertilizer' and a tool for restoration, particularly in wet ecological systems where liverworts are prevalent. I am keen to test this further in other habitats and plant-fungus combinations.

Qualifications

Degrees

PhD, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom, 2011 - 2016

MSc, University of Reading, Reading, Reading, 2009 - 2010

MSc, New York University, New York, New York, 1991 - 1992

BBA, University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States, 1984 - 1988

BSc, University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States, 1984 - 1988

Employment history

Non-academic

Ecological Consultancy (part-time), RSK Consulting, 2016 - ongoing

Grants

Shifting Symbiotic Scenarios at the Dawn of Land-Plant-Fungus Associations
Role: Principal investigatorField K
Co-investigator: Pressel S
Funding: NERC
Total value £420,292 (to Museum £138,535.51)
Dates: 2016 - 2019

Committees

Member, Board of Directors, Jerusalem Botanical Garden, Jerusalem Botanical Garden, Israel, 2010 - on going.

Memberships

Member, British Mycological Society, 2017 - on going.

Member, British Bryological Society, 2014 - on going.

British Ecological Society, 2013 - on going.

Publications

Kowal J, Duckett J, Jacob A, Rimington W, Bidartondo M, Field K, Schornack S, Pressel S (2017) Lycopodiella inundata: insights into plant-fungal associations in early vascular plants. Presented at The Rhynie Chert – our earliest terrestrial ecosystem revisited.

Kowal J, Pressel S, Duckett J, Bidartondo M (2016) A new tool for habitat restoration: liverworts and their mycorrhiza-like fungal partners. Presented at British Ecological Society Annual Meeting.

Kowal J, Pressel S, Duckett JG, Bidartondo MI (2016) Liverworts to the rescue: an investigation of their efficacy as mycorrhizal inoculum for vascular plants. Functional Ecology, 30 (6) : 1014 - 1023. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12580

Kowal J (null) Liverworts to the Rescue. British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, 1312 12 - 13 12 12

Kowal J, Pressel , Bidartondo M, Duckett J, Field K (null) From rhizoids to roots? Experimental evidence of mutualism between liverworts and ascomycete fungi. Annals of Botany, in press :

Supervision

Bachelor's equivalent Joint supervisor to Various students
Co supervisor(s): Bidartondo M
BSc Third Year Project - Plant response to ErM fungus
Imperial College London, London, London, United Kingdom

Introduction

Summary

My research focuses on associations and interactions between early land plants (mainly liverworts and early-diverging vascular plants) and fungi (Mucuromycotina and/or Glomeromycotina groups) using in-vitro and natural microcosms. This work supports a NERC-funded research project, ''Shifting symbiotic scenarios at the dawn of land plant-fungus associations”, which aims to better understand the origin and function of plant-fungi mutualisms and their evolutionary innovations. The potential application of these functional and nutritional exchanges for both restoration ecology and agricultural innovations are just beginning to unfold. Exciting questions lay before us to discuss, test and collaborate both in the laboratory and real world settings. Background: My PhD research focused on heathland plants and their mycorrhizal partners. Specifically, I tested indigenous liverworts as an inoculum for heathland vascular plant restoration, as they share the same mycorrhizal fungus as the Ericaceae plants which dominate heathlands. Nursery experiments support the use of liverworts as a 'biological fertilizer' and a tool for restoration, particularly in wet ecological systems where liverworts are prevalent. I am keen to test this further in other habitats and plant-fungus combinations.

Qualifications

Degrees

PhD, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom, 2011 - 2016

MSc, University of Reading, Reading, Reading, 2009 - 2010

MSc, New York University, New York, New York, 1991 - 1992

BBA, University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States, 1984 - 1988

BSc, University of Wisconsin - Madison, United States, 1984 - 1988

Employment history

Non-academic

Ecological Consultancy (part-time), RSK Consulting, 2016 - ongoing

Projects

Grants

Shifting Symbiotic Scenarios at the Dawn of Land-Plant-Fungus Associations
Role: Principal investigatorField K
Co-investigator: Pressel S
Funding: NERC
Total value £420,292 (to Museum £138,535.51)
Dates: 2016 - 2019

Professional activities

Committees

Member, Board of Directors, Jerusalem Botanical Garden, Jerusalem Botanical Garden, Israel, 2010 - on going.

Memberships

Member, British Mycological Society, 2017 - on going.

Member, British Bryological Society, 2014 - on going.

British Ecological Society, 2013 - on going.

Publications

Publications

Kowal J, Duckett J, Jacob A, Rimington W, Bidartondo M, Field K, Schornack S, Pressel S (2017) Lycopodiella inundata: insights into plant-fungal associations in early vascular plants. Presented at The Rhynie Chert – our earliest terrestrial ecosystem revisited.

Kowal J, Pressel S, Duckett J, Bidartondo M (2016) A new tool for habitat restoration: liverworts and their mycorrhiza-like fungal partners. Presented at British Ecological Society Annual Meeting.

Kowal J, Pressel S, Duckett JG, Bidartondo MI (2016) Liverworts to the rescue: an investigation of their efficacy as mycorrhizal inoculum for vascular plants. Functional Ecology, 30 (6) : 1014 - 1023. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12580

Kowal J (null) Liverworts to the Rescue. British Ecological Society Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, 1312 12 - 13 12 12

Kowal J, Pressel , Bidartondo M, Duckett J, Field K (null) From rhizoids to roots? Experimental evidence of mutualism between liverworts and ascomycete fungi. Annals of Botany, in press :

Teaching and students

Supervision

Bachelor's equivalent Joint supervisor to Various students
Co supervisor(s): Bidartondo M
BSc Third Year Project - Plant response to ErM fungus
Imperial College London, London, London, United Kingdom