Tag Archives: Mycology

Fungi: The Rotten World About Us

Here’s another video I like to show students and I find it quite entertaining — although from 1980 it’s a little dated.  This version was recorded from VHS, so the image quality isn’t so great.  This video was put together by wildlife producer Barry Paine working with the BBC for its renowned “The World About Us” series and made it’s way to the US and appeared on the PBS show Nature in the early 80’s.

Meetings in Massachusetts, October 2012

Two upcoming meetings in the state of Massachusetts may be of interest to you, one of which I have already told you about.

UMass Plant Biology Graduate Program

The Plant Biology Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will be holding their 10th Annual Symposium in Plant Biology on Saturday October 6th, 2012.  This year’s focus is pertinent to readers of Cyme & Cystidium — it’s titled “War or Peace? Interactions Between Plants and Microbes“.  The symposium is free but you have to register to attend.


MassMyco, the first regional meeting of mycologists from the state of Massachusetts, will be held on October 27th, 2012.  Registration is now open.

Upcoming Mycological & Mycorrhizal Meetings 2012

Here’s three upcoming mycological meetings which may be of interest to you:

european nitrogen fixation conference 2012

As part of the 10th European Conference on Nitrogen Fixation held in Munich a satellite meeting called the 1st Molecular Mycorrhiza Meeting will be held over two days: Thursday, September 6th to Friday, September 7th.  The list of speakers is pretty amazing if (like me), mycorrhizae is your thing.  See here for registration and see here for abstract submission.

above & below-ground interactions meeting

The British Mycological Society will be having a meeting for Fungal Interactions on September 3rd to 6th, 2012, in Alicante, Spain.  The sessions look to be diversely balanced and focused on fungal interactions with all types of organisms.  See here for the preliminary meeting program and to register see here.

Finally, if you live in the New England area of North America (or don’t mind the travel) the first regional meeting of mycologists from the state of Massachusetts and the surround area will be held on October, 27th 2012.  It will be aptly named MassMyco.  The meeting will be held at Clark University and hosted by the Hibbett Lab.  I love these small regional meetings, so perhaps I’ll try to make the trek for this one.  Registration is not open yet, but check back soon.

Book Review: Cryptococcus – From Human Pathogen To Model Yeast

I wrote the following book review for the Mycological Society of America‘s Inoculum newsletter and I think the book is a great resource if you study Cryptococcus — so I am reproducing my review here.  You can also find a copy of the review here.

cryptococcus book cover for web

Cryptococcus: From Human Pathogen To Model Yeast. 2010.  Joseph Heitman, Thomas R. Kozel, Kyung J. Kwon-Chung, John R Perfect, and Arturo Casadevall (Eds.).  ASM Press, Washington, DC.

The yeast-forming basidiomycete genus, Cryptococcus, has emerged as a significant model for both fungal genetics and pathogenicity.  A long history of research compounded with numerous laboratory resources, as well as two sequenced genomes, have yielded a great deal of information on this enigmatic fungus.  The new book Cryptococcus: From Human Pathogen To Model Yeast, edited by Heitman, Kozel, Kwon-Chung, Perfect, and Casadevall, features contributions from 123 authors and summarizes a vast amount of data as well as synthesizes disparate concepts on the biology of Cryptococcus.  If you consider Casadevall & Perfect’s 1998 tome Cryptococcus neoformans as the groundwork for this book, then these 646 pages are evidence for the explosive advance of knowledge on Cryptococcus that has accrued over the last 12 years.

Cryptococcus species, arguably the most important fungal pathogen of mammals, are common in immuno-compromised hosts; HIV-associated cryptococcosis alone infects more than 1 million people per year.  For example, Cryptococcus has been laboratory confirmed in Sub-Saharan African countries to be responsible for anywhere from 10 to 70% of fatal meningitis cases over the last two decades.  A well-publicized outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of C. gattii was determined to be the causative agent of more than 200 cases of human meningitis in non-immuno compromised individuals within the Pacific Northwest over the last decade.  A concerted global consortium of medical mycology researchers ­ the majority of whom are authors of chapters in this book ­have provided the foundation for establishing Cryptococcus as the model system for understanding fungal pathogenesis in both a medical and veterinary setting.

Species of Cryptococcus entered my personal radar when they kept turning up in plant-associated environmental samples.  Wanting to get up to speed with natural history, population genetics, and methods for typing Cryptococcal diversity, this book was an obvious entry point for me.  Chapters here are dedicated to identification from environmental niches – such as the description of avian- or plant-associated vectors – as well as population biology to phylogeography, and species complexes to hybridization.

Copiously illustrated throughout, notable figures include those documenting Cryptococcus morphology, cell and molecular biological networks, secondary metabolite chemistry, and gene and genome structure.  Chapters devoted to phylogeography and species complexes have detailed phylogenetic trees and distribution maps.  Additionally, this wouldn’t be a clinical textbook if it didn’t include a series of color and monochrome plates of human and animal infections that remind you why you have – or haven’t – studied medical mycology.

Mycologists aren’t the only ones who will find this resource useful.  Geared toward a wide array of specialists, this book is equally applicable to the interests of clinicians and physicians, microbiologists and immunologists, disease ecologists and epidemiologists, and, to a lesser extent, public health and policy administrators.  The book succeeds in connecting and interpreting basic research science and applying this knowledge in a clinical context.

The book consists of a whopping 44 chapters separated into seven sections.  These sections are devoted to general biology; genetics and genomics; virulence; environmental interactions and population biology; immune host responses; pathogenesis; and diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.  Each of the sections consist of five to eight chapters and each informative chapter stands on its own – concise enough to allow for discrete chunks of reading without overwhelming the reader.  In fact, I would argue that the book’s greatest strength is cohesive breadth blended with factual depth.  My only criticism ­ and this is an extremely minor one ­ is that the book as a whole is slightly overwhelming in scope.  This by no means indicates a lack of vision from the authors or editors, but reflects their desire to take into consideration the complete state of knowledge relating to Cryptococcus and its biology.  As a result, the contributors have not only provided a truly fascinating and utterly comprehensive collection of everything Cryptococcus, but have set the bar high for the best treatise on fungal biology at the genus level.  I would consider this book essential for anyone working directly with Cryptococcus ­ or wanting to get up to speed ­ and for mycologists looking for a framework to fully grasp the biology of an important model fungus.

ICOM7 – The 7th International Conference on Mycorrhiza, January 2013


Perhaps because I study mycorrhizae the ICOM meetings have a special place in my heart, so I’m excited to tell you that the next ICOM — the 7th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM7) — is open for registration.  The meeting will be held in New Dehli in January of 2013.  Here is the call for abstracts.  Here’s some more information from the meeting website:

The Organizing Committee cordially invites you to the 7th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM7) to be held from 6th to 11th January’ 2013 in New Delhi, the capital Republic of India. Organized by TERI under the auspices of the International Mycorrhiza Society and in collaboration with the Mycorrhiza Network, this 6 day gala event would bring the ICOM legacy to Asia for the first time.

The theme of this conference, “Mycorrhiza for all – An Under Earth Revolution” is wisely chosen so that it may prove to be the epicenter of a new revolution that our planet is in dire need of. A change that would help minimise the usage of chemical fertilizer on soil and hence leave the least environmental footprint.

International Society for Human & Animal Mycology Meeting 2012

The 18th Congress of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM 2012) will be held in Berlin, Germany, from June 11th to 15th, 2012.

The conference organizers have prepared a great selection of speakers in their program.  Check on their website for more information on the meeting.