Just back from another fantastic Fungal Genetics Conference at Asilomar. An amazing number of helpful tweets under the #Fungal17 hashtag. Sarah Unruh (@sau916) and I are talking about how to best archive or building a storify this so it is easier to read. Always a fun meeting to see friends and nosh at the smorgasbord of fungal genetics, epigenetics, genomics, ecology, evolution, and chemistry that is going on. Jason got to give a Plenary talk and express the utility of sequencing fungal genomes in studying their evolution. Lab Alumnus Steven Ahrendt won a poster award on his work on Cryptomycota fungi and also gave a talk.
Also got some good news that our paper on structural analyses of a rhodopsin-like protein in the chytrid fungi has been accepted at PeerJ after some helpful revisions – (see the preprint).
Another great meeting of Fungal Genetics at Asilomar Conference center. Much exciting science, fungal genetics as a field is being driven by genomics and technology but there are nice cycles of experiments coming back to test and validate hypotheses generated from these data. A few pictures of the UCR group all together at dinner.
Steven and Jason attended the Mycological Society of America’s 2014 conference in East Lansing, MI. This included coming in a day early enough for some of us to go on the foray on Sunday after we attended the Microbiology of the Built Environment conference in Boulder, CO.
MSA2104 was a great chance to catch up with friends and colleagues and hear some excellent talks on the current state of research in the fields of systematics & taxonomy; ecology & pathology; genetics & molecular biology. Genomics pervades a lot of the research where it was not quite part of the picture when I first started attending so it was great to see how many people taking advantage of the amazing resources produced by the JGI sequencing programs. I also really enjoyed the Karling lecture from Bruce McDonald on domestication in fungi and plants and the “dark side” of this domestication (meaning mostly that there are unintended consequences).
There was some tweeting going on at the meeting – I tried to capture some with a storify available here.
Jason presented research on the evolution of the fungal cell wall examining early diverging lineages of fungi which is the work of former graduate student Divya Sain.
Steven presented his poster on the inhibitory properties of a Chytridiomycota fungus we work on that affects growth of some filamentous fungi and won the award for best graduate student poster!
Jason was also honored with the 2014 Alexopoulos Prize to honor a young Mycologist. The prize is in memory of C. J. Alexopoulos who among other things authored the great Introductory Mycology textbook. I have not yet decided how I will spend the prize money but I intend to support a project in the lab or to support travel for collecting more strains tied to chytrid work.
A photo of Steven and Jason at the banquet.
Congrats to the lab for a great Fungal Genetics meeting. Everyone was participating in the meeting, presenting their work, and hearing about the new things coming out in other research laboratories. Was exhausting pace with 8AM to 10 PM (or later) every day but I think the fun and science excitement overshadowed the tiredness. Congratulations to Steven who won a poster prize and to Jason for his election to the Fungal Genetics Policy Committee. FungiDB was demoed in a workshop and poster sessions and we seemed to get a lot of interest and feedback along with the excellent presentation by Omar Harb from the EuPathDB team to lead the workshop.
We will post some pictures and upload our poster PDFs in the coming weeks I expect, still catching up on sleep and reengaging in our research after that.
Thanks to all who came by to talk with us at our posters and it was great fun to make new friends and reconnected with long-time ones.
Talks from the Sloan Foundation sponsored session at Lake Arrowhead meeting on Microbiology of the Built Environment are now posted on Microbe.net (which was jokingly pronounced as micro-beignet by some) including my talk on fungi in the Built environment. Go take a look if you want to see an overview of some of the ways researchers are studying microbes in the built environment. The Microbe.net team also recorded an interview with me about our work on the MicroBE data coordinating center and work to make identifying fungi from metagenomic sequencing easier.
A wonderful symposium reunion of alumni and current Duke and the RTP area Mycology and pathogenesis labs is being held April 5 & 6 at Duke University. The talks have so far been an interesting collection of model pathogen systems, drug development, and host-pathogen interactions. Tomorrow myself, Tim James, and others will hit the evolutionary biology of fungi a bit focusing on chytrid pathogens. Feeling a lot of pride in the training program here at Duke and some nostalgia for days past when many of us were together in the same institution. The gathering is also a celebration of great mentoring and so it is great to see so many of those who taught and mentored us here – in particular Joe Heitman was also awarded a mentoring honor by Duke for his leadership and mentoring.
I can safely say everyone had a good time at Fungal Genetics at the Asilomar Conference Grounds earlier this month. So much fun it too us a week to catch up on sleep and dig out from work left undone.
Here are a few pictures from poster presentations. We didn’t get everyone’s picture captured in the chaotic swirl of the poster session unfortunately. I’m really proud of how well everyone did and the apparent interest in our projects.
I also launched our fungidb.org database website at the meeting and got chance to tell more people about our ambitions and hopes for it.
It was also a real treat to see longtime friends and mentors and have the chance to swap stories.
Spring is flying along. We’ve been presenting some of our work at conferences and getting ready for a full summer of meetings and Divya preparing for her qualifying exam.
A few papers have come out or are now accepted. One I’ll highlight here is the publication of the Sordaria macrospora genome. This was a fun collaboration with groups in Germany, France, Oregon State, and Edinburgh where we sequenced Sordaria with 454 and Illumina sequence and assembled the genome using de novo assembler and comparative scaffolding to the available Neurospora genomes. Sordaria is an important model system for sexual development and provides a great evolutionary not-too-distant outgroup to the Neurospora clade for evolutionary genomic analyses we are trying to finish off.
Also have had a chance to interact with colleagues at the JGI User meeting, the Neurospora conference, and a special treat of speaking at the PBoFF symposium at Texas A&M.
Everyone is getting their projects underway in the lab and we’ve had two visitors come to work on Neurospora and Chytrid genome project analyses so a busy but exciting time for us.
Several more weeks left in the quarter where I’m teaching introductory biology and then the Gordon Conference, MSA, and IMC9 will be conferences to finish preparing for. The lab will also be represented at Evolution meetings in Portland as John attending.
Although I’m not going to be at PAG this year, I’ll be in San Diego for the BioPerl and part of the GMOD meeting on Wed and Thursday.
Back from an excellent meeting in St Feliu du Guixols for the EMBO Comparative Genomics of Eukaryotic Microorganisms. Not a strictly fungi focused meeting, but lots of genome comparisons of yeasts and molds were presented. It will be held again in 2 years so mark your calendars as it is a great scientific exchange and a beautiful location. Sophien posted the group photo.