Myco-Consortium talk May 13: Sigrid Jakob

As part of the MST's membership in the Myco-Consortium series of Zoom talks, MST members are invited to join the presentation on Friday, May 13th at 7pm ET:

An Introduction to DNA Sequencing 

A talk by Sigrid Jakob
Friday May 13th, 7pm ET

DNA sequencing has become an integral part of modern mycology. It's not only helping with the classification of fungi but has revolutionized our understanding of the fungal tree of life. This talks will take us through the many uses (and abuses) of DNA sequencing, explain how DNA sequencing works, what it takes to set up a lab and how to integrate molecular methods with the documenting and collecting clubs are already doing. She'll also showcase some of the more interesting discoveries from her and the club's collecting that DNA sequencing has helped uncover.

About Sigrid Jakob

Sigrid Jakob is a community scientist based in Brooklyn, New York. She currently serves as the president of the New York Mycological Society and as board member of the Fungal Diversity Survey (FunDiS), where she's also active as a sequence validator. She co-founded the FunDiS Rare 20 conservation challenge as well as a fungi-focused community program for Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, a first for a public green space in the US. Sigrid has been extracting fungal DNA in her home lab since 2019 and has led many workshops in DNA sequencing. Her favorite fungi are Inocybe and fungi growing on dung.  She is also the current president of the NYMS.

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Myco-Consortium talk May 6: Cathie Aime

As part of the MST's membership in the Myco-Consortium series of Zoom talks, MST members are invited to join the presentation on Friday, May 6th at 7pm ET:

Illuminating the Dark Fungi

A talk by Cathie Aime
Friday May 6th, 7pm ET

Conservative estimates put the number of extant fungal species at 1.5 – 5.1 million, of which < 10% have been described. One of the many questions that has been generated from these estimates is where are the “missing”, or dark, fungi. The majority of fungal data, including species estimates, are based on studies of macrofungal diversity in temperate regions. The main focus of work in my lab is to discover and characterize biodiversity (species, genetic, and functional) of fungi from un- and underexplored habitats and lineages—especially the early diverging microfungi of the Basidiomycota from tropical regions. We combine exploratory field research with traditional and modern tools (ranging from physiological profiling to comparative genomics) to accomplish this. This has included, for example, the establishment of two long-term (20+ years) field studies in remote regions of the Guiana Shield and the Congo River Basin; development of tools for utilizing herbarium specimens for phylogenomic studies and for working with fastidious microfungi; and providing the first available genomic resources for nine classes of fungi. Results of this work have improved understanding at all levels of fungal biodiversity including the discovery and description of new higher rank lineages; discovery of new niches and ecological roles; and characterization of specific adaptive traits that appear to have driven success, in terms of species richness of lineages, and in terms of epidemic potential in phytopathogens. Finally, we have shown that the most widely used culture-dependent and culture-independent methods may fail to detect some fungal lineages, which will require development of novel approaches before illumination of global diversity in toto is achieved.

About Cathie Aime

Cathie Aime is Professor of Mycology at Purdue University and Director of the Purdue Herbaria. Her lab conducts research on the systematics, biodiversity, and evolution of Fungi focusing on: 1) the earliest diverging lineages of Basidiomycota (Pucciniomycotina, Ustilaginomycotina, and Wallemiomycetes); 2) rust fungi; 3) fungi in tropical ecosystems; and 4) fungal diseases of tropical tree crops. Dr. Aime has won numerous awards including the departmental awards for Outstanding Graduate Advisor/Mentor and for Outstanding Teacher, as well as having been a Favorite Faculty Nominee. On the research side, she’s won The GMA Food Safety Award from the International Association for Food Protection, and is a Fellow of the Mycological Society of America and the Linnean Society of London. Her publications are too numerous to list (or count).

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Myco-Consortium talk May 3: Kurt Miller

As part of the MST's membership in the Myco-Consortium series of Zoom talks, MST members are invited to join the presentation on Tuesday, May 3rd at 7pm ET:

Diversity of Tropical Fungi in Puerto Rico

A talk by Kurt Miller
Tuesday May 3rd, 7pm ET

Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean with a unique culture, history, and biological diversity. Citizen scientist Kurt Miller has lived here for several years in which he has documented hundreds of species of tropical macrofungi. He will be discussing the taxonomy and species diversity of these beautiful mushrooms together with high quality photos from different habitats all over the island.

About Kurt Miller

Kurt Miller is a community scientist from Kirkland, Washington. He lives in Puerto Rico where he has interned with Forest Service mycologist Dr. Jean Lodge and served as a field biologist during the 11th annual International Mycology Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His main interests are tropical fungal ecology and taxonomy, environmental education, and documenting rare mushroom species, especially those which form mycorrhizae with sea grape (Coccoloba spp), a native tree. He administers the local group ‘Fungi of Puerto Rico’ and leads several fungal identification walks annually on the island. He is a FunDiS Biodiversity Database Identifier specializing in fungi of the Caribbean Islands.

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Myco-Consortium talk Apr. 29: João Araújo

As part of the MST's membership in the Myco-Consortium series of Zoom talks, MST members are invited to join the presentation on Friday, April 29th at 7pm ET:

The Biology Behind the Zombie-Ant Fungi

A talk by João Araújo
Friday April 29th, 7pm ET

The ability to infect insects arose multiple times along the evolution of Fungi. However, none has shown such broad and sophisticated strategies to infect, persist and transmit spores than the so-called “Zombie-Ant Fungi”. These fungi evolved the ability to make their hosts leave the colony, climb up to a summit position on plant parts and bite onto the substrate. The infected ant remains attached by locking its mandibles into the plant tissue, which is often further reinforced by fungal structures. A few days after the host’s death, the fungus erupts from their bodies to grow structures that will shower spores on the forest floor, eventually infecting new workers that forage on the ground. They have also developed a broad range of morphologies, adapted likely in response to the host ecology and morphology. In this talk, João will present how these behavior manipulators arose and which strategies they have developed in order to thrive and spread through several species, becoming a diverse fungal group.

About João Araújo

João Araújo is a mycologist specializing in systematics and evolutionary ecology of insect-associated fungi, particularly entomopathogenic fungi and their mycoparasites in the Neotropics and Amazonia. João’s research interest is related to insect-associated fungi. He is interested in taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary ecology. Currently, he is working on the diversity and evolution of Japanese, Amazonian and African entomopathogenic fungi. His typical approach is to combine fundamental taxonomic science with natural history, field work, evolutionary biology, microscopy and photography. João is also interested in Scientific Illustration and Science communication through the arts. He is Assistant Curator of Mycology, Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

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