Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jessica Allen

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-11-2022




Herbaria are references for plant and fungal identification and for determination and comparison of species’ locations, ranges, habitat, abundance, and fruiting as well as flowering periods. The Eastern Washington University herbarium is comprised of a collection of plant and fungal samples with associated data preserved for long-term studies. Recently, two projects in the lichen herbarium have contributed to broadening understanding of lichen diversity in eastern Washington. Jack Massie, an Eastern Washington Alumni, has donated hundreds of lichen specimens that are being integrated into the herbarium. We have databased, curated, and filed 100 new specimens to the herbarium, and at least three were species not previously represented in the herbarium. In the coming weeks, additional specimens will be processed into the herbarium. Jack Massie’s generous donation of lichen samples from all over Washington, Montana, and even British Columbia will add to the scientific understanding of biodiversity hundreds of years from today. Lichens produce many secondary metabolites which influence their interactions with the environment. They are also used by scientists to help identify lichens. Lecidea tessellata is a common, widely distributed, chemically diverse crustose lichen. Many of the EWU herbarium specimens of L. tessellata were collected from the same sites, which has allowed us to demonstrate the chemotypic diversity of this species within the region. We used thin layer chromatography to determine their secondary metabolite content. Our results revealed that our 38 herbarium specimens represent four different chemotypes. The most common chemotype was Confluentic acid and 2’-O-Methylmicrophyllinic acid, which comprised 84% of the specimens, and the remainder of the specimens were one of three other chemotypes. Our results indicate that lichens demonstrate impressive biodiversity, even within a sample population consisting of a single species.