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Michele Piercey-Normore

School of Science and the Environment

Michele Piercey-Normore, B. Sc. (Hons), M. Sc., Ph. D. (Memorial University of NL), Post doctoral research (Smithsonian Institution; Duke University); Assistant, Associate and Full Professor (University of Manitoba)


Professor – Dean, School of Science and Environment


Office: AS 3024

Phone: (709) 637-7166




Research interests

Why does the mutualistic interaction in lichens makes them successful in almost every ecosystem in the world? I see this mutualism as a controlled parasitic interaction, which may have characteristics similar to those of fungal pathogens that infect plants giving them the capacity to be widespread. My research focuses on questions around coevolution of the algal and fungal partners; environmental effects on expression of pathogenesis-related genes and natural products during the interaction; and understanding biodiversity. These areas underpin the study of fungal pathogens in agriculture and forestry, as well as conservation biology.

Since environmental conditions may affect expression of recognition and defense related genes (and natural products), gene expression can be examined in the lab by resynthesis experiments under different culture conditions. My research recently suggested that an imbalance in symbiont growth may result in parasitism rather than mutualism, providing a temporary survival mechanism for the fungus in nature until a compatible alga becomes available to form the lichen. The model species chosen for my research is an ecologically important species in the food web and in maintaining balance in northern ecosystems with implications for climate change. Floristic study of lichen communities places ecology and evolution into a broader context and identifies rare species and potentially new natural products, many of which are known to be bioactive such as having UV-protection, antiherbivory or antibacterial properties. This research is reflected by my publications below.

Students interested in working on any of these topics should feel free to contact me for potential projects.


Teaching interests 

In the past, I taught courses on introductory biology of fungi and lichens; higher level courses on the ecology of lichens and bryophytes, advanced mycology, molecular biology techniques; and special fourth year topics courses for students who wish to gain research experience in a topic that falls within my research expertise. Currently as Dean of the School of Science and Environment, my administrative duties are too extensive to teach many courses but I hope to continue teaching in the future. Students have been volunteers, summer students, or Honours students with me to gain experience and explore their interests. Many graduate students pursuing longer-term research projects and a higher education in some aspect of my research program have committed to completing a MSc or PhD.

I believe that teaching and research complement and reinforce one another, which gives students a strong foundation for pursuing a successful career.



Recent publications (since 2011)

Piercey-Normore MD, Brodo IM, Deduke C. 2016. Lichens from the Hudson Bay Lowlands: a long-term survey in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba. Lichenologist (In Press).

Athukorala SNP, Pino-Bodas R, Stenroos S, Ahti T and Piercey-Normore MD. 2016. Phylogenetic relationships among reindeer lichens of North America. Lichenologist 48(3): 209-227

Abdel-Hameed M, Bertrand R, Piercey-Normore MD and Sorensen J. 2016. Identification of 6-Hydroxymellein Synthase and accessory genes in the lichen Cladonia uncialis. Journal of Natural Products. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.6b00257

Elshobary ME, Osman ME, Abo-Shady AM, Komatsu E, Perreault H, Sorensen J and Piercey-Normore MD. 2016. Effect of algal carbohydrates on polyketide synthesis of the lichen-forming fungus, Cladonia rangiferina. Mycologia doi:10.3852/15-263.

Abdel-Hameed M, Bertrand R, Piercey-Normore MD and Sorensen J. 2016. Putative identification of the usnic acid biosynthetic gene cluster by de novo whole-genome sequencing of a lichen-forming fungus. Fungal Biology 120:306-316.

Deduke C, Halden N and Piercey-Normore MD. 2016. Comparing element composition of rock substratum with lichen communities and fecundity of Arctoparmelia and Xanthoparmelia species. Botany 94(1):41-51.

Doering J, Deduke C and Piercey-Normore MD. 2016. Variation in lichen species assemblages and secondary metabolites surrounding Stereocaulon species in the boreal forest of northwestern Manitoba. Evansia. 33(3) Accepted.

Yazıcı K, Aptroot A, Aslan A, Sıpman H and Piercey- Normore MD. 2015. The lichen biota of Burdur province (Turkey). Mycotaxon. 130(3). In Press

Athukorala SNP, Doering J, Piercey-Normore MD. 2015. Morphological and genetic polymorphism in two North American reindeer lichens: Cladonia arbuscula s. l. and C. rangiferina. Ceylon Journal of Science (Bio. Sci.) 44(2):55-65.

Maltman C, Piercey-Normore MD and Yurkov V. 2015. Tellurite-, Tellurate-, and Selenite-based Anaerobic Respiration by Strain CM-3 Isolated from Gold Mine Tailings. Extremophiles. 19(5): 1013-1019.

Deduke C and Piercey-Normore MD. 2015. Substratum preference of two species of Xanthoparmelia. Fungal Biology. 119(9):812-822.  

Elshobary M, Mohamed EH, Osman A, Abushady M and Piercey-Normore MD. 2015. Comparison of cyanobacterial and green algal photobionts associated with taxonomically diverse lichen-forming ascomycetes. Cryptogamie, Algologie. 36:81-100.

Athukorala SNP and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Effect of temperature and pH on the resynthesis of compatible partners of the lichen, C. rangiferina. Symbiosis. 64:87-93.

Ismaiel MMS, El-Ayouty YM, Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Role of pH value for antioxidants production of Spirulina platensis. (In press) Brazilian Journal of Microbiology. 2016(2).

Athukorala SNP, Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Recognition and defense-related gene expression at three resynthesis stages in lichen symbionts. Canadian Journal of Microbiology. 61:1-12. DOI: 10.1139/cjm-2014-0470

Deduke C, Booth T and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Lichen fecundity on the Precambrian Shield: an alternative approach to life history strategies. Botany. 92:723-735.

Timsina B, Hausner G, and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Multiple origins of non-reducing polyketide synthase genes in the Cladonia chlorophaea species complex (Cladoniaceae). Fungal Biology: 118:896-909.

Deduke C and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. A trade-off with stictic acid improves ascospore viability in Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia. The Bryologist 117:290-296.

Ismaiel MMS, El-Ayouty YM, Loewen, P., Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Characterization of the iron-containing superoxide dismutase and its response to stress in cyanobacterium Spirulina (Arthrospira) platensis. Journal of Applied Phycology. 26:1649-1658. DOI 10.1007/s10811-013-0233-y.

Fontaine KM, Booth T, Deduke C and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Notes on the species assemblage of the lichen Dermatocarpon luridum in northwestern Manitoba, Canada. Evansia 31:69-74.

Doering JA, Miao V and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Determining the best rehydration conditions for isolation of RNA from Lobaria pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm. BMC Research Notes 7:442-448.

Athukarola SNP, Huebner E and Piercey-Normore MD. 2014. Identification and comparison of the three early stages of resynthesis for the lichen, Cladonia rangiferina. Canadian Journal of Microbiology. 60:41-52.

Ismaiel MMS, El-Ayouty Y and Piercey-Normore MD. 2013. Antioxidant characterization of selected cyanobacteria. Annals of Microbiology. DOI 10.1007/s13213-013-0763-1.

Fontaine KM, Stocker-Wörgötter E, Booth T and Piercey-Normore MD. 2013. Genetic diversity of the lichen-forming alga, Diplosphaera chodatii, in North America and Europe. Lichenologist. 45:799-813.

Timsina BA, Sorensen JL, Weihrauch D and Piercey-Normore MD. 2013. Effect of aposymbiotic conditions on colony growth and secondary metabolite production in the lichen-forming fungus Ramalina dilacerata. Fungal Biology. 117:731-743.

Toni SA and Piercey-Normore MD. 2013. Chemical ecology of lichens and species composition of cryptogams among three boreal hanitats in eastern Manitoba. Botany 91:53-61.

Fontaine K, Beck A, Stocker-Worgotter E and Piercey-Normore MD. 2012. Photobiont relationships and phylogenetic history of Dermatocarpon luridum var. luridum and related Dermatocarpon species. Plants 1:39-60.

Timsina BT, Stocker-Wörgötter E and Piercey-Normore MD. 2012. Monophyly of some North American species of Ramalina and inferred polyketide synthase gene function. Botany. 90:1295-1307.

Francisco de Oliveira PM, Timsina B and Piercey-Normore MD. 2012. Ramalina sinensis selects two closely related photobionts in local populations. Lichenologist. 44:649-660.

Malihipour A, Gilbert J, Piercey-Normore M and Cloutier S. 2012. Molecular phylogenetic analysis, trichothecene chemotype patterns, and variation in aggressiveness of Fusarium isolates causing Head Blight in Wheat. Plant Disease. 96:1016-1025.

Yazıcı K, Aptroot A, Aslan A, Vitikainen O and Piercey-Normore MD. 2011. Lichen biota of Ardahan province (Turkey). Mycotaxon. 116:480.

Piercey-Normore MD and Deduke C. 2011. Fungal farmers or algal escorts: lichen adaptation from the algal perspective. Molecular Ecology Perspectives (Invited) 20:3708-3710.

Kowalski M, Hausner G, Piercey-Normore MD. 2011. Bioactivity of secondary metabolites and thallus extracts from lichen fungi. Mycoscience. 52:413-418. DOI 10.1007/s10267-011-0118-3

Inch S, Walker D, Gilbert J, Daayf F, Fernando D and Piercey-Normore MD. 2011. The development of a model to predict the potential efficacy of Trichoderma harzianum isolates on perithecial production of Gibberella zeae based on secondary metabolite production. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 33:337-346.



School of Science and the Environment

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: AS3025
Phone: (709) 637-6215