Category Archives: outings

Desert Adventures, 2018

Nat and Jason headed out to the Mojave National Preserve to meet up with Erik Hom and his StudyUSA class from Univ of Mississippi. We started at the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center which is one of 39 Natural Reserves in the University of California.  We were there to teach a bit about cryptogamic crusts, show the Kelso dunes off, and explore some more of the desert crust sampling sites that our collaborator Nicole Pietrasiak (@drylandalgae) and Paul De Ley have collected from. Nothing like seeing sites that previously I only knew from pictures or tubes of soil!

A few pictures from our visit.

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Kelso Dunes
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Crusts symbioses of algae and cyanobacteria with fungi, bacteria, and many uncounted single celled organisms.

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Lichen Crusts galore across from the Kelso dunes
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Moss Crusts are also rich symbioses with a predominant moss.
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Old volcanic flow in the Cima area also has cacti and crusts
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Colorful lichens found on the granite faces. On closer looks, these are often 3 or more species competing for space on the same surface.

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The Joshua Tree Album

Our lab trip to Joshua Tree NP and photo session before the start of the quarter resulted in our 2017 album cover lab photo.

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We also visited one of Julia’s field sites where she is working on a lichen biodiversity inventory and some comparison of the genetic diversity of the fungi and algae symbiont along an elevation gradient in the park.
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Derreck is excited to collect some dung samples that may recover some zygomycete isolates for the Zygolife project. StajichLab-1-31

The rest of pictures from the day are in this flickr album.

MSA 2016

Some us from the lab took a trip up to Berkeley, CA for the MSA 2016 meeting. We road tripped by car from Riverside through the central valley up to Berkeley.

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At the conference we had a great chance to meet with other mycologists, ecologists, and fungal enthusiasts. The meeting was fantastic from the Clark Kerr campus at UC Berkeley we had dorm life living so everyone was close by and could eat meals together. The talks and posters were really outstanding and such fun to talk about interesting research in fungi. Clearly genomics, next generation sequencing are at the forefront of tools used by the community but new approaches to visualizing communities and exploring the interactions between fungi and partners like bacteria and plants were very well explored in the meeting. Some great work on microbiomes and mycobiomes of insects and amphibians also made for some fascinating new results.  There was a MSA session dedicated to some results from the ZyGoLife project and our team also had a one day meeting earlier in the week at the Joint Genome Institute to catch up on all the different team projects (a long post on this will appear on the zygolife project page soon). It was also fun to catch up with former lab member Steven Ahrendt who now works at JGI on early diverging fungi genome projects.

The meeting also featured Arturo Casadevall as the Karling lecture – an honor to bring in a scientist who is likely an outside member of the MSA community to speak about fungi. Dr Casadevall gave a lecture that covered the importance of collaboration, the impact of the pressure to publish in ‘one word journals’, and reviewed his provocative hypothesis about the link in the success of fungi, dinofall of dinosaurs, and rise of mammals. He also paid tribute to Thomas Taylor, a Zygolife collaborator who sadly passed away this Spring but who would have been the Karling lecturer this year.

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Jason spoke on new population genomics work on Candida and Fusarium, while Sawyer presented a poster on Rhizopus stolonifer resequencing and population genomics; Derreck presented a poster on Bacteria-Fungi interactions on Serratia and zygomycete fungi; Nat presented his poster on data from first environmental sequencing of desert biological soil crusts from Joshua Tree National Park. On the way back we stopped for an overnight in Pinnacles National Park. Much fun, science, and discussions were had throughout the week.

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We also stopped to take our first lab album cover photo while in Pinnacles. More to come!

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Desert Crust collecting, Summer edition

On August 4th, 2016, Nat, Derreck, Sawyer, and Jericho went to Joshua Tree National Park to collect more Biological Soil Crusts samples. They were lucky to find some Lichen crusts which we could not find in our last sampling trip. Here are some pictures of our sampling team.

Stajich lab sampling team: Derreck, Nat, Sawyer, and Jericho
Stajich lab sampling team: Derreck, Nat, Sawyer, and Jericho
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Our first collection of Lichen crust from Joshua Tree National Park
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Derreck measured crust surface temperature, while Jericho was getting ready for sampling

A desert foray

We started some explorations on fungi in desert crusts this week with a project in Joshua Tree National Park. Nuttapom received a Robert Lee Graduate Student research grant to explore impacts of visitor disturbance on biodiversity of desert crusts in JTNP.  Nat with the help of Claudia, Derreck, and Prof Mike Allen did a first exploration of a few sites.  We are happy to see some rain falling this week so there should be some changes to the crusts in some subsequent visits this week and weekend and coinciding with a workshop on desert crusts in the park this weekend. Here’s a few pictures of the team out in the field last week.

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Mike and Derreck ahead in Hidden Valley
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Nat, getting his first taste of sampling in the desert.
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Dereck and Claudia helping to look for crusts. Claudia is researching sandstone associated fungi from a variety of habitats.
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Cyanobacteria dominated crust
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Soil crust site

Recent lab news

The past few months have passed quickly but wanted to share a few updates.

Jason presented at the EMBO Eukaryotes meeting in Spain, Mexican Mycology Congress, Univ of Arizona, attended the Kavli Frontiers meeting, co-organized the Southern California Eukaryotic Pathogens meeting held again at UCR and taught graduate course on Programming and Data analyses.

The past few months we hosted Yinka Odebode from University of Lagos from August to November. He was supported by the West African Research Association. Yinka learned about ITS sequencing of fungi to identify his isolates in his work in Africa. He also explored properties of dust associated fungi in Nigeria before he returned home in November.

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We also welcomed Marco Marconi from Madrid for a few months and is working on comparative genomics of fungi using the 1KFG datasets.

Starting in  September we welcomed new graduate student in Plant Pathology, Nuttapon Pombubpa (right). Here he is (right) enjoying lunch along with visiting student Claudia Coleine and graduate student Sawyer.

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We gathered to say goodbye to project scientist Peng Liu who returned to China in December. Here she is with postdoc Jinfeng and visiting student Zhinquan.
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Undergraduates Dillon and Jericho joined us for lunch as well. They have both worked closely with Peng this Summer and Fall.lablunch4

Most of the lab together for a farewell lunch for Peng including Deane on the far right.lablunch5