Ester Gaya

Research Leader, Comparative Fungal Biology


Job title: 
Research Leader, Comparative Fungal Biology
Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Foreign languages: 
Catalan, Spanish, English, Esperanto


I conduct research on the diversity and evolution of fungi, especially Ascomycota, and I focus on processes of speciation and phenotypic evolution using lichenised fungi as a case study. I am currently co-Principal Investigator of a project that explores the hyperdiversity of extremotolerant fungal symbioses, in partnership with the Institute of Plant Sciences, at University of Graz (Austria). My other main interests are methods testing using an empirical approach: phylogenetics, phylogenomics, dating events, ancestral character state reconstructions. My specialties include taxonomy and systematics of Teloschistales (Ascomycota).

I am currently coordinating the fungal module of the new MSc course in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation, in partnership with Queen Mary University of London.


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • B. Sc., Univ. Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 1997
  • MS, Univ. Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2000
  • DEA, Univ. Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2001
  • PhD, Univ. Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, 2006
  • Associate Editor, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society


Selected publications: 

Miadlikowska, J., Kauff, F., Högnabba, F., Oliver, J. C., Molnár, K., Fraker, E.,Gaya, E., Hafellner, J., Hofstetter, V., Gueidan, C., Otálora, M. A. G., Hodkinson, B., Kukwa, M., Lücking, R., Björk, C., Sipman, H. J. M., Burgaz, A. R., Thell, A., Passo, A., Myllys, L., Goward, T., Fernández-Brime, S., Hestmark, G., Lendemer, J., Lumbsch, H. T., Schmull, M., Schoch, C. L., Sérusiaux, E., Maddison, D. R., Arnold, A. E., Stenroos, S. & Lutzoni, F. (2014). Multigene phylogenetic synthesis for the class Lecanoromycetes (Ascomycota): 1307 fungi representing 1139 infrageneric taxa, 312 genera and 66 families. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 79:132-168. (journal cover).

McDonald, T. R. *, Gaya, E.* & Lutzoni, F. (2013). Twenty-five cultures of lichenizing fungi available for experimental studies on symbiotic systems. Symbiosis 59:165-171. *Equally contributing authors.

Fernández-Brime, S., Llimona, X., Lutzoni, F. & Gaya, E. (2013). Phylogenetic study of Diploschistes (Graphidaceae, Ostropales, lichen-forming Ascomycota), based on morphological, chemical, and molecular data. Taxon 62: 267-280.

Gaya, E., Högnabba, F., Holguin, A., Molnar, K., Fernández-Brime, S., Stenroos, S., Arup, U., Søchting, U., Van den Boom, P., Lücking, R., Sipman, H.J.M. & Lutzoni, F. (2012). Implementing a cumulative supermatrix approach for a comprehensive phylogenetic study of the Teloschistales (Pezizomycotina, Ascomycota). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63: 374-387.

Gaya, E., Redelings, B.D., Navarro-Rosinés, P., Llimona, X, De Cáceres, M. & Lutzoni, F. (2011). Align, or not to align? Resolving species complexes within the Caloplaca saxicola group as a case study. Mycologia 103(2): 361-378.