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Dr. Carla Harper
Assistant Professor, Botany

Biography

Carla is a paleobotanist with a specialization in paleomycology, the study of fossil fungi. She has always been fascinated with all things paleontology and has a strong background in illustration, art, and graphic design. During her undergraduate, she completed a double degree at Purdue University in Botany and Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics; her favorite modules were in plant anatomy and plant pathology. In graduate school, combining all of these interests and adding in a passion for mycology, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Kansas on studying the diversity of Permian and Triassic fungi from Antarctica. After graduate school, she received an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to work in Munich, Germany at the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology (BSPG) to study fungi from late Paleozoic ecosystems, including the world famous Rhynie chert from Scotland. Carla then had three postdoctoral positions with the US National Science Foundation (NSF) ZyGoLife, NSF Office of Polar Research Antarctica, and the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the BSPG, all focused on studying fossil fungi. Her research has permitted her to conduct fieldwork all over the world, including Antarctica.

In March 2020, Carla joined the Trinity College Dublin Botany Department as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science. She continues her research on the biology and ecology of microorganisms and biotas in Permian (~270 Ma), Triassic (~240 Ma), and Jurassic (~180 Ma) ecosystems of Antarctica and late Paleozoic of Europe (~400 Ma and 330 Ma); symbiotic systems through time, as well as the biology, geochemistry, and evolution of fossil microbes (with an emphasis on interactions, interrelatedness, and nutritional modes). She is also excited to expand her research to study the late Palaeozoic floras of Ireland. In addition, she is keen to document the modern biodiversity of fungi, principally mycorrhizal fungi and tree pathogens, to use as modern analogs to compare to ancient fungi.

As co-editor of the book, Transformative Paleobotany, Carla is especially interested in new approaches to studying and visualizing fossil fungi such as analytical techniques, advanced microscopy, and geochemical approaches. She is the most excited at breaking down and understanding complex interactions and pathways between ancient plants and fungi, and how fungi played a role in the early evolution of plants.

Combining her passions for art and paleontology, her microscopy imagery (Triarch botanical image award) and research (IW Bailey Award, Isabell Cookson Award) have received international accolades.

Carla has won several teaching and mentoring awards, and she is the Inclusive Curriculum champion for the School of Natural Science, a member of the TCD Nature+ as an advocate for research on fungal biodiversity, and a co-editor of the 2021 International Journal of Plant Sciences, all-women first-author, special volume Women in Paleobotany - A Tribute to Edith L. Taylor.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Walker, C., Harper, C.J., Brundrett, M., Krings, M., The Early Devonian fungus Mycokidstonia sphaerialoides from the Rhynie chert is a member of the Ambisporaceae (Glomeromycota, Archaeosporales), not an ascomycete., Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 287, 2021, p104384 Journal Article, 2021 DOI URL

Krings, M., Serbet, S., Harper, C.J., Rhizophydites matryoshkae gen. et sp. nov. (fossil Chytridiomycota) on spores of the early land plant Horneophyton lignieri from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert., International Journal of Plant Sciences, 182, (2), 2021, p109 - 122 Journal Article, 2021 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Fungi as parasites: A conspectus of the fossil record in, editor(s)De Baets, K., Huntley, J.W. , The Evolution and Fossil Record of Parasitism: Identification and Macroevolution of Parasites. Topics in Geobiology, vol 49., Charm. Switzerland, Springer, 2021, pp69 - 108, [Harper, C.J., Krings, M.] Book Chapter, 2021 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Harper, C.J., Walker, C., Schwendemann, A.B., Kerp, H., Krings, M., Archaeosporites rhyniensis gen. et sp. nov. (Glomeromycota, Archaeosporaceae), from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert - a fungal lineage morphologically unchanged from more than 400 million years., Annals of Botany, 126, (5), 2020, p915 - 928 Journal Article, 2020 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Harper, C.J., Taylor, E.L., Krings, M., Filamentous cyanobacteria preserved in masses of fungal hyphae from the Triassic of Antarctica, Peer J., 8, 2020, pe8660 Journal Article, 2020 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Morphological diversity of fungal reproductive units in the Lower Devonian Rhynie and Windyfield cherts, Scotland: A new species of the genus Windipila., PalZ, 94, 2020, p619 - 632 Journal Article, 2020 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Decombeix, A.-L., Durieux, T., Harper, C.J., Serbet, R., Taylor, E.L., A Permian nurse log and evidence for facilitation in high-latitude Glossopteris forests., Lethaia, 54, (1), 2020, p96 - 105 Journal Article, 2020 URL DOI

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., A new species of Perexiflasca, enigmatic microfossils with suggested affinities to Chytridiomycota (Fungi) from the Lower Devonian Rhynie and Windyfield cherts, Geobios, 56, 2019, p107 - 114 Journal Article, 2019 URL DOI

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Fungal intruders of enigmatic propagule clusters occurring in microbial mats from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert, PalZ, 93, 2019, p135 - 149 Journal Article, 2019 URL DOI

Harper, C.J., Galtier, J., Taylor, T.N., Taylor, E.L., Rößler, R., Krings, M., Distribution of fungal endophytes in a Triassic fern stem., Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 108, (4), 2019, p387 - 398 Journal Article, 2019 DOI Other URL

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., A microfossil closely resembling Merismopedia (Cyanobacteria) from the 410-million-yr-old Rhynie and Windyfield cherts: Rhyniococcus uniformis revisited., Nova Hedwigia, 108, (1-2), 2019, p17 - 35 Journal Article, 2019 DOI URL

Harper, C.J., Krings, M., Nimbosphaera rothwellii nov. gen. et sp., an enigmatic microfossil enveloped in a prominent sheath from the Lower Devonian Windyfield chert, Scotland, International Journal of Plant Sciences, 180, (6), 2019, p558 - 570 Journal Article, 2019 DOI URL

Harper, C.J., Taylor, E.L., Walker, C., White, J.F., Serbet, R., Krings, M., Fungal sporulation in a Permian plant fragment from Antarctica. Bulletin of Geosciences , Bulletin of Geosciences , 13, (1), 2018, p13 - 26 Journal Article, 2018 TARA - Full Text URL URL

Exceptional preservation of sessile, long-stalked microorganisms in the Lower Devonian Windyfield chert (Scotland). in, editor(s)Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Cúneo, N.R., Rothwell, G.W. , Transformative Paleobotany: Commemorating the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor, London, UK, Elsevier Inc.: Academic Press, 2018, pp519 - 526, [Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Kerp, H., Taylor, E.L.] Book Chapter, 2018

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Deciphering interfungal relationships in the 410-million-yr-old Rhynie chert: Glomoid spores under attack, Geobios, 51, 2018, p151 - 160 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Looking for arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the fossil record - an illustrated guide. in, editor(s)Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Cúneo, N.R., Rothwell, G.W. , Transformative Paleobotany: Commemorating the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor, London, UK, Elsevier Inc.: Academic Press, 2018, pp481 - 518, [Walker, C., Harper, C.J., Brundrett, M.C., Krings, M.] Book Chapter, 2018

Enigmatic, structurally preserved stems from the Triassic of central Europe: A fern or not a fern? in, editor(s)Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Cúneo, N.R., Rothwell, G.W. , Transformative Paleobotany: Commemorating the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor, London, UK, Elsevier Inc.: Academic Press, 2018, pp187 - 212, [Galtier, J., Harper, C.J., Rößler, R., Kustatscher, E., Krings, M.] Book Chapter, 2018

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Additional observations on the fungal reproductive unit Windipila spinifera from the Windyfield chert, and description of a similar form, Windipila pumila nov. sp., from the nearby Rhynie chert (Lower Devonian, Scotland)., Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen, 288, 2018, p235 - 242 Journal Article, 2018 URL URL

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Cúneo, N.R., Rothwell, G.W. , Transformative Paleobotany: Commemorating the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor., 1st, London, UK, Elsevier Inc.: Academic Press, 2018, 732pp Book, 2018 URL

Fossils of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi give insights into the history of a successful partnership with plants. in, editor(s)Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Cúneo, N.R., Rothwell, G.W. , Transformative Paleobotany: Commemorating the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor, London, UK, Elsevier Inc.: Academic Press, 2018, pp461 - 480, [Brundrett, M.C., Walker, C., Harper, C.J., Krings, M.] Book Chapter, 2018

Reactive Oxygen Defense Against Cellular Endoparasites and the Origin of Eukaryotes. in, editor(s)Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Cúneo, N.R., Rothwell, G.W. , Transformative Paleobotany: Commemorating the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor, London, UK, Elsevier Inc.: Academic Press, 2018, pp439 - 460, [White, J.F., Kingsley, K., Harper, C.J., Verma, S.K., Brindisi, L., Chen, Q., Chang, X., Micci, A.,Bergen, M.] Book Chapter, 2018

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Taylor, E.L., Kerp, H., Early Devonian (~410 Ma) microfossils with an astounding resemblance to Characiopsis (Tribophyceae) and Characium (Chlorophyceae)., Journal of Phycology, 53, 2017, p720 - 724 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., White, J.F., Barthel, M., Heinrichs, J., Taylor, E.L., Taylor, T.N., Fungi in a Psaronius root mantle from the Rotliegend (Asselian, lower Permian/Cisuralian) of Thuringia, Germany., Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 239, 2017, p14 - 30 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Harper, C.J., Decombeix, A.-L., Taylor, E.L., Taylor, T.N., Krings, M., Fungal decay in Permian glossopteridalean stem and root wood from Antarctica., IAWA Journal, 38, 2017, p29 - 48 Journal Article, 2017 DOI Other URL

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Taylor, E.L., Fungi and fungal interactions in the Rhynie chert: A review of the evidence, with the description of Perexiflasca tayloriana gen. et sp. nov., Philosophical Transactions B. Royal Society of London, 373, (1739), 2017, p20160500 Journal Article, 2017 DOI URL

Harper, C.J., Krings, M., Dotzler, N., Taylor, E.L., Taylor, T.N., Deciphering interfungal relationships in the 410-million-yr-old Rhynie chert: Morphology and development of vesicle-colonizing microfungi., Geobios, 50, (1-2), 2017, p9 - 22 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Krings, M., Kerp, H., Taylor, E.L., Harper, C.J., Hagenococcus aggregatus nov. gen. et sp., a microscopic, colony-forming alga from the 410-million-yr.-old Rhynie chert., Nova Hedwigia, 105, (1-2), 2017, p205 - 217 Journal Article, 2017 DOI URL

Krings, M., Walker, C., Harper, C.J., Martin, H., Sónyi, S., Kustatscher, E., Taylor, T.N., Unusual fungal reproductive units from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert., Zitteliana A, 89, 2017, p29 - 37 Journal Article, 2017 URL

Krings, M., Harper, C.J., A mantled fungal reproductive unit from the Lower Devonian Windyfield chert, Scotland, with prominent spines and otherwise shaped projections extending out from the mantle., Neues Jahrbuch für Paläontologie und Geologie, 285, 2017, p201 - 211 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Early fungi: Evidence from the fossil record in, editor(s)Dighton, J., White, J.F. , The Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem (Fourth Edition), Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, 2017, pp37 - 52, [Krings, M., Taylor, T.N., Harper, C.J.] Book Chapter, 2017 URL DOI

Krings, M., Taylor, T.N., Dotzler, N., Harper, C.J., Morphology and ontogenetic development of Zwergimyces vestitus, a fungal reproductive unit enveloped in a hyphal mantle from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert., Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 228, 2016, p47 - 56 Journal Article, 2016 DOI URL

Harper, C.J., Krings, M., Galtier, J., Taylor, T.N., A microfossil with suggested affinities to the Peronosporomycetes (Oomycota) from the Carboniferous (c. 330 Ma) of France., Nova Hedwigia, 103, (3-4), 2016, p315 - 326 Journal Article, 2016 DOI URL

Harper, C.J., Taylor, T.N., Krings, M., Taylor, E.L., Structurally preserved fungi from Antarctica: Diversity and interactions in late Paleozoic and Mesozoic polar forest ecosystems., Antarctic Science, 28, (3), 2016, p153 - 173 Journal Article, 2016 TARA - Full Text URL DOI

Harper, C.J., Taylor, T.N., Krings, M., Taylor, E.L., Fungi associated with Glossopteris (Glossopteridales) leaves from the Permian of Antarctica: A preliminary report., Zitteliana A, 55, 2015, p107 - 114 Journal Article, 2015 URL TARA - Full Text

Hieger, T.J., Serbet, R., Harper, C.J., Taylor, T.N., Taylor, E.L., Gulbranson, E.L., Cheirolepidiaceous diversity: an anatomically preserved pollen cone from the Lower Jurassic of southern Victoria Land, Antarctica, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology , 220, 2015, p78 - 87 Journal Article, 2015 TARA - Full Text URL DOI

Harper, C.J., Taylor, T.N., Krings, M., Taylor, E.L., Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a voltzialean conifer from the Triassic of Antarctica, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 215, 2015, p76 - 84 Journal Article, 2015 URL TARA - Full Text DOI

Glauser, A.L., Harper, C.J., Taylor, T.N., Taylor, E.L., Marshall, C.P., Olcott-Marshall, A., Reexamination of cell contents in Pennsylvanian spores and pollen grains using Raman spectroscopy, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 210, 2014, p62 - 68 Journal Article, 2014 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Krings, M., Taylor, T.N., Dotzler, N., Harper, C.J., Frankbaronia velata nov. sp., a putative peronosporomycete oogonium containing multiple oospores from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert, Zitteliana A, 53, 2013, p23 - 30 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text URL

Krings, M., White, J.F., Dotzler, N., Harper, C.J. , A Putative fossil zygomycetous fungus with mantled zygosporangia and apposed gametangia from the lower coal measures (Carboniferous) of Great Britain, International Journal of Plant Sciences, 174, (3), 2013, p269 - 277 Journal Article, 2013 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Klymiuk, A.A., Harper, C.J., Moore, D.S., Taylor, E.L., Taylor, T.N., and Krings, M., Reinvestigating Carboniferous 'actinomycetes': authigenic formation of biomimetic carbonates and implications for microbial paleoecology, PALAIOS, 28, (2), 2013, p80 - 92 Journal Article, 2013 TARA - Full Text URL

Harper, C.J., Taylor, T.N., Krings, M., Taylor, E.L., Mycorrhizal symbiosis in the Paleozoic seed fern Glossopteris from Antarctica., Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 192, 2013, p2 - 31 Journal Article, 2013 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Krings, M., Taylor, T.N., Taylor, E.L., Hass, H., Taylor, E.L., Kerp, H., Dotzler, N. and Harper, C.J., Microfossils from the Lower Devonian Rhynie Chert with suggested affinities to the Peronosporomycetes, Journal of Paleontology, 86, (2), 2012, p358 - 367 Journal Article, 2012 TARA - Full Text DOI

Harper, C.J., Bomfleur, B., Decombeix, A., Taylor, E.L., Taylor, T.N., and Krings, M., Tylosis formation and fungal interactions in an Early Jurassic conifer from northern Victoria Land, Antarctica, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 175, 2012, p25 - 31 Journal Article, 2012 DOI URL TARA - Full Text

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Ryberg, P.E., Harper, C.J., Decombeix, A.L. , Celebrating women in paleobotany: A tribute to Edith L. Taylor, International Journal of Plant Sciences, 186, (6), 2021, p000 - 000 Journal Article, 2021 TARA - Full Text DOI URL

Rothwell, G.W., Krings, M., Harper, C.J., Thomas N. Taylor - Pioneering palaeomycologist (1937-2016), IMA Fungus , 8, 2017, p59 - 60 Journal Article, 2017 URL TARA - Full Text

Harper, C.J., Fossil Fungi, Review of Fossil Fungi, by Taylor, T.N., Krings, M., , Ameghiniana, 53, (2), 2016, p238-240 Review, 2016 TARA - Full Text URL

Research Expertise

Keywords

ANTARCTICA; BIODIVERSITY; Botany; CARBONIFEROUS; CRETACEOUS; DEVONIAN; FOSSIL; Fossil Fungi; Fossil spores; Fossil Wood; Fossils; FUNGI; JURASSIC; LOWER CARBONIFEROUS; MICROFUNGI; Morphology; Mucoromycotina; MUSHROOM; MYCORRHIZA; MYCORRHIZAL; MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI; PERMIAN; PLANT MACROFOSSILS; Rhynie chert; Triassic; VESICULAR-ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZAS; Zygomycota

Recognition

Awards and Honours

Fossil des Monats [Fossil of the month]. Rätselhaftes Farnstämmchen [Enigmatic fern stem]. Study and specimen were selected as fossil of the month exhibit in BSPG, Munich, Germany. 2018

I.W. Bailey Award. Award for best manuscript submitted to the IAWA (International Association for Wood Anatomists) Journal by an early career wood anatomist. 2016

Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers (3.1-USA/1160852 STP) 2015-2017

Isabell Cookson Award. Paleobotany Section Botanical Society of America - Best student oral presentation. 2015

University of Kansas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. (University-wide award). 2015

Kenneth B. Armitage Award for Excellence in Teaching, Principles of Biology Laboratory (Student Nominated Award). 2014

Sally K. Frost Mason and Kenneth A. Mason Award for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Biology Core Laboratory (Student Nominated Award). 2013

Memberships

University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum Research Associate 2016 – present

Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie Museum Research Associate 2017 – present

Botanical Society of America - Paleobotany Section 2010 – present

British Mycological Society 2021 – present