Manuela Dal Forno, Ph.D.

Research Botanist


Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy, George Mason University

M.S. in Botany, Universidade Federal do Paraná

B.S., in Biology, Universidade de Santa Cruz do Sul

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biology, National Science Foundation

Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Botany, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Manuela Dal Forno is originally from Santa Cruz do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where she also went to school for a B.S. in Biology. Later she did her masters in Botany in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil working on the diversity of Graphidaceae (a family of crustose lichen-forming fungi in Ascomycota) in Restinga (a type of coastal vegetation) in Southern Brazil. She moved to the United Stated in 2009 to become a land management intern at the Audubon Center of the North Woods, Sandstone, MN. While there, she applied and was selected for a PhD at George Mason University to work with the systematics of the Dictyonema clade (a group of lichen-forming fungi in Basidiomycota). She completed her degree in 2015 and in 2016 was awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology to work on the microbiome of lichen specimens.  Before joining BRIT in late 2019, Manu was a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Botany Department at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) working with whole genome sequencing of both symbionts of the lichen symbiosis Cora-Rhizonema.

Her work focuses on multiple aspects of the evolution, diversity, genome and microbiome of lichens. She has carried out fieldwork in Brazil (South, Southeast, Northeast); Colombia (Central Andes); Costa Rica; Ecuador (Continental and Galapagos Islands); Jamaica; Puerto Rico; United States; the Philippines; and Thailand.

Selected Publications:

Dal Forno M, Lawrey JD, Moncada B, Bungartz F, Grube M, Schuettpelz E, Lücking R. 2022. DNA barcoding of fresh and historical collections of lichen-forming basidiomycetes in the genera Cora and Corella (Agaricales: Hygrophoraceae): a success story? Diversity 14 (4): 284.

Dal Forno M, Lawrey JD, Sikaroodi M, Gillevet PM, Schuettpelz E, Lücking R. 2021. Extensive photobiont sharing in a rapidly-radiating cyanolichen clade. Molecular Ecology (from the cover) 30: 1755–1776. First published: 20 Oct 2020.

Dal Forno M, Bungartz F, Lücking R, Yánez-Ayabaca A, Lawrey JD. 2017. High levels of endemism in Galapagos basidiolichens. Fungal Diversity 85: 45–73.

Lücking R, Dal Forno M, Sikaroodi M, Gillevet PM, Bungartz F, Moncada B, Yánez-Ayabaca A, Coca LF, Chaves JD, Lawrey JD 2014. A single macrolichen constitutes hundreds of unrecognized species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (30): 11091–11096.

Dal Forno M, Lawrey JD, Sikaroodi M, Bhattarai S, Gillevet PM, Sulzbacher M, Lucking R. 2013. Starting from scratch: evolution and diversification of the lichen thallus in the basidiolichen Dictyonema (Agaricales: Hygrophoraceae). Fungal Biology 117 (9): 584-598.


Lab Members

Manuela Dal Forno


Fort Worth Botanic Garden


Maddie Rzucidlo

Herbarium and Lab Assistant

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Alice Gerlach

Research Associate | Postdoctoral Researcher

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Graduate Students

Ana Fávaro

Ph.D. Student

University of Minnesota

Ermalene Catipan Taer

MSc Student

Central Mindanao University

Franchesca Claire Vega

MSc Student

Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology

Julia Adams

PhD Student

University of California – Riverside

Undergraduate Students

Qweenie Pie Abaya

Undergraduate Student

Central Mindanao University



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