Project ESR2: Phylogeny and phytochemistry of Icelandic club mosses and lichens

PhD-Fellow: Maonian Xu

Supervision: Dr. Sesselja Omarsdottir

Host Institution: Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Iceland

Co-supervisors: Elin Olafsdottir, University of Iceland (P4), Starri Heidmarsson, Icelandic Institute of Natural History (AC3); Margret Thorsteinsdottir, ArcticMass (AC6).

Lower plants are largely unstudied for new leads although they harbor unique chemistry. This project will use phylogeny and chemical profiling to target lead discovery from Icelandic club mosses and lichens.

About the project:

Contrary to higher plants, lower plants are largely unstudied for new drug leads although they harbor unique chemistry. They have provided important leads such as huperzine A, an alkaloid from Chinese Huperzia serrata, which is being considered for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The project focuses on Icelandic club mosses and lichens. The objectives are to use phylogeny and chemical profiling (UPLC-QToF MS/MS and NMR) to: (1) define the subspecies of Huperzia selago, Lycopodium annotinum and Diphasiatrum alpinum (2) find optimal environmental conditions in Iceland for huperzine A production in H. selago (3) compare H. selago from Iceland with H. serrata from China about huperzine A and other lycopodium alkaloids (4) explore the correlation between potential bioactive compounds within Icelandic specimens of Cetraria and the phylogeny of the genus using ITS sequence data (5) use chemical profiles to delimit Cetraria species.

Duration: 3 years – start March 1st 2014.