Wrapped up! The 2022 AMS Symposium
Thanks to everyone who joined us at the 2022 Australasian Mycological Society Symposium on 25th November in Wellington, New Zealand at Victoria University.
Highlights of the 2022 NZMS / AMS Joint Conference
Dr Bevan Weir, AMS Vice President
This year the AMS scientific meeting was held in conjunction with the New Zealand Microbiological Society as a one-day symposium in Wellington, New Zealand. The capital city is known for its throngs of government civil servants, cafe culture, and blustery winds. Conference attendees were certainly treated to the latter on arrival at the airport.
The conference had seven fantastic plenary speakers: Petra Louis, Teresa Bergholz, Naresh Magan, Marcus Claesson, Madeleine van Oppen, Michael Travisano, and Ryan Wick. They spoke on topics such as human health and our microbiome, food pathogens and the pending threat of climate change, microbial evolution, and obtaining the ‘perfect’ genome. An important first for the conference this year was an excellent presentation by Charles Royal explaining Mātauranga Māori, and its interaction with science. The science sessions covered the breadth of microbiological research, from the latest advances in ‘omics and molecular biology to food microbiology and antimicrobials.
The NZMS conference has always been well attended by university postgraduate students. This year was important as the first chance in several years to get back into in-person networking, generating novel science ideas, and seeking new opportunities.
The field trip to Zealandia was a major highlight for delegates of both NZMS and AMS. We had guided tours of the incredible site and saw unique birds, reptiles and vegetation with guides who were knowledgeable about the ecology, conservation, indigenous and colonial history of the region, as well as the long term future plans for regenerating the native landscape.
Overall, the conference was a great success, and for many a welcome return to normality
AMS Symposium snapshot: mycological madness in Wellington
By Eloise Martin: student and conference presenter
For the fungi fanatic, the experts and novices alike, the Australasian Mycological Society Symposium held last November in Wellington, New Zealand, was a rewarding, invigorating and enthralling experience. After a busy few day at the New Zealand Microbiology Conference, learning about our bacterial, viral and other microbial friends, we were treated to the grand fungal finale, a chance to delve into the world of mycology; from phylogeny to molecular work, plant pathology to animal diseases and even into fungal folklore, culture and history!
The opening address was enthusiastically delivered by Allison Pouliot, a travelling fungal photographer who offered a fresh perspective into the allure of fungi, articulating the presence and emergence of the fungal ‘aesthetic’ and how it converges with science. Alison is author of The Allure of Fungi, co-author (with Tom May) of Wild Mushrooming, and her new book on fungi will be published in March 2023. Her background in science satisfyingly complements her fungal fanaticism, which has led her to the furthest reaches of our planet, in an effort to understand how cultures perceive, understand and treat fungi, and to capture the diverse beauty and overall allure of fungi. She offered an in-depth exploration of the nexus between aesthetic and science, the role of popular science and where scientists such as ourselves fit into the picture. The 2022 AMS Symposium was a fully in-person event, but we were able to record Dr Alison Pouliot’s Plenary talk. You can access this recording on our YouTube Channel via this link: https://youtu.be/k3-HmhetWKY and you can find out more about Alison's adventures at www.alisonpouliot.com.
Following this we heard from a selection of keen mycologists, each with unique insights and specialities. The molecular session walked us through concepts of parallel evolution, non-coding RNA genes, quantitative systems and fungal diseases in New Zealand’s beloved kakapo, followed by a discussion on plant-fungi associations, including allelopathy, biocontrol and the role of fungi in improving soil carbon availability. Following this we learnt about various plant pathogens and the phylogeny of ectomycorrhizal species, as well as soil fungi in tussock grasses during the poster session.
Running throughout the day was also the ‘silent auction’ which successfully raised substantial funds for our society whilst also supporting local creators and writers who donated prizes. The student prizes were then awarded, where I was extremely lucky to earn the Jack Warcup memorial prize, with Charlotte Pedly being awarded the American Society of Microbiology Prize, which includes a 2023 membership to the society!
To cap of a wonderful day the team enjoyed a dinner at Wellington’s Thistle Inn, where we shared in many more enthusiastic discussions, accompanied by some delicious bites and some cheeky drinks (courtesy of our fungal friends).
As a student preparing to embark on my future in mycology, research and science, I found the symposium to be incredibly valuable, both for learning, associating with experts and likeminded thinkers and gaining a passion for the field and my work. The symposium provided an opportunity to delve into the diversity, breadth, and depth of mycology. I eagerly await the field’s future and am utterly inspired by our community and our fascinating work in all aspects, crevices and niches of mycology. I also extend sincere thanks to the society for supporting my attendance at the conference, through the student travel grant, which was also awarded to students Aindreeya Alcova and Weixia Wang from the University of Melbourne. Encouraging enthusiasm and participation from students early-on is integral to building the future of science and research, and it is fantastic to receive such support from the society.
Final note from the President
Dr Tracey Steinrucken
Thank-you to everyone who contributed to the silent auction, and those who bid on items. We raised $260.00 to go towards the society’s activities in 2023. Thanks also to all our delegates, to the NZMS to the Conference Organisers our AMS organising committee and our incredible speakers.
Please enjoy the photos below, taken by student Eloise Martin
Wellington Harbour. Photo by B Steinrucken