2018 AMS Scientific Meeting

The 2018 scientific meeting of the Australasian Mycological Society was held in Brisbane, Australia in conjunction with the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM)

2018 Joint ASM/AMS Scientific Conference Report

 

Summary

The 2018 joint ASM/AMS scientific conference in Brisbane was another great combined meeting between our Society and our friends and colleagues in the Australian Society for Microbiology, which attracted both local and international attendees.

On Day 1 of the conference attendees had the opportunity to attend either the inaugural ASM Special Interest Group, Eukaryotic Microbes workshop “Cool Tools” or the fungal foray at Mt Coo-tha Botanic Gardens. Thank to Dianne Leemon for finding a great foray site despite the dry conditions that prevailed leading up to the meeting. These events were followed up by our AMS conference dinner at Alchemy Restaurant.

 

Many thanks to the conference committee of Tracey Steinrucken, John Dearnaley, Dee Carter and James Fraser for their assistance in running an excellent meeting. Thanks to the conference chairs Ana Traven, James Fraser, Julie Djordjevic, Laszlo Irinyi, Roger Shivas, Dee Carter, Richard Cannon and Ben Schultz. Finally, thanks the all the presenters for their diverse, interesting and high quality presentations and posters.

 

A full report on the conference is below.

Leona Campbell (Conference Chair, AMS President)

Full Report

This year the society held a joint ASM/AMS Scientific Meeting in Brisbane on the 4th & 5th of July. It was an excellent meeting with a great range of high quality presentations that spanned all areas of mycology.

 

Day 1 of the meeting was held concurrently with the ASM meeting at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The first symposium of the day was “Medical Mycology” chaired by Ana Traven (Monash) and James Fraser (UQ). This symposium included talks by Julie Djordjevic (USydney), Ana Traven (Monash), Lazslo Irinyi (USydney) and Brianna Steed (UMelbourne), as well as Karl Kuchler (University of Vienna) and Kumar Selvarajoo (A*STAR, Singapore). The topics ranged from mechanisms driving hypervirulence in Candida albicans, and looking at virulence promoting non-protein kinases as antifungal drug targets, through to fungal DNA barcoding.  

 

The second symposium of Day 1, “Fungal Ecology and Taxonomy” was chaired by Julianne Djordjevic and Lazslo Irinyi. Speakers included Michael McDonald (Monash), Joanne Connolly (CSU), Linda Hendersen (USydney), Edward Kerr (UQ), Stephanie Owen (Swinburne) and Kaylene Bransgrove (QDAF) and covered topics such as the effect of geographic topography on tropical fungal endophytes, experimental co-evolution of yeasts, a long term survey of mucormycosis in platypus and amphibians and the isolation and use of wild yeast in brewing.

 

The morning symposiums were followed by the ASM’s final, and our first, Plenary speaker Karl Kuchler from the University of Vienna. Karl gave a fantastic talk about fungal pathogen and host interactions and that in final the outcome of these interactions the winner takes it all!

 

The afternoon of Day 1 provided conference attendees with the opportunity to attend either a foray to the Mt Coo-tha Botanic Gardens or alternatively a “Cool Tools” workshop followed by the inaugural meeting of the ASM Eukaryotic Microbe Special Interest Group. 

 

The foray to the Mt Coo-tha Botanic Gardens was hosted by our immediate past president John Dearnaley (USQ) and the Queensland Mycological Society. John has provided the following report on the foray:

Thirteen participants (including several international visitors) attended the 2018 AMS conference fungal foray at Mt Coo-tha Botanic Gardens in Brisbane. Given the lateness and dryness of the fungal-collecting season, we had thought we were pushing our luck to find a good site for macrofungi, but the rainforest garden proved a success in this regard. There were a number of colonies of the striking red-brown capped Leratiomyces ceres growing on the woodchips in the garden. The delightful funnel shaped Microporus xanthopus was very common on fallen timber throughout the site. A cluster of fans of Pleurotus djamour was sampled by Rytas Vilgalys (Duke University, USA/WSU) who was keen to get an ITS-DNA signature of the taxon. It was great to be able to show attendees both partially and fully opened Aseroe rubra (starfish fungus). A lone Leucocoprinus birnbaumii fruiting body had a few attendees in disagreement about identification. Thanks must go to Diana Leemon (QDAF) for finding the only site within 50 kilometres of Brisbane still with any moisture. Thanks also to Wayne (“Fun-guy”) Boatwright (President, QMS) for the images shown here.

John Dearnaley

Leratiomyces ceres growing on woodchips

Meghann Thai (University of Sydney) with specimens of Microporus xanthopus

The ASM Eukaryotic Microbes SIG “Cool Tools” workshop saw talks focussing on a range of techniques currently being applied to the study of fungi. The talks were followed by the inaugural meeting of the SIG, chaired by Ana Traven, during which Megan Lenardon (UNSW), and AMS member, was nominated and elected as the Chair of the SIG. Attendees then discussed strategies to raise the profile of eukaryotic microbes in the ASM generally.

The evening of July 4th was the AMS conference dinner at Alchemy Restaurant on the river. The dinner was well attended and was a great opportunity for conversation and connecting with old and new friends and colleagues.

Day 2 of the conference was hosted at the University of Queensland. Special thanks to James Fraser for arranging the venue and catering and to his students for managing the poster boards.

The day started with our second plenary speaker Rytas Vigaylis (Duke University, USA/WSU) and was followed by three symposia. Rytas entertained the audience with a fantastic talk entitled “Metagenomic study of soil fungal communities associated with Australian and New Zealand exotic pine plantations”. He described how ectomycorrhizal fungi are less diverse in introduced pine forests, typically less than 20 species / site in comparison to northern hemisphere forests that can have 100’s of species. Soil metagenomics showed that while fungal diversity is less in introduced pine forests, the pines essentially harbour the same fungi as native forests and the pine mycobiome is overlayed on the native forest mycobiome.  

The first symposium of Day 2, “Systematics”, chaired by Roger Shivas (USQ), was a energetic line up of 7 speakers; Julia Kruse (USQ), Beau Picking (UMelbourne), Genevieve Gates (UTAS), Peter Buchanan (Landcare Research NZ), Nigel Fechner (DES, Qld), Levente Kiss (USQ) and Roger Shivas himself. Each speaker gave a focussed 12-minute talk with Roger giving a great wrap up at the end. The pace was fast, the topics were varied, and each speaker made the most of their time to deliver their message. From Beau describing the application of high-throughput Targeted Amplicon Sequencing to the taxonomy of the macro fungi Cortinarius, to Peter telling us about a very successful set of initiatives to educate Aotearoa New Zealand school students about native fungi and have them involved in developing a student and teacher guide on fungi. This symposium was followed by lunch and the opportunity for attendees to look at the posters and speak to the presenters.

Aidan Kane presenting during Day 2 at the University of Queensland

 

The next symposium “Fungicides, Antifungals & Resistance” was co-chaired by Dee Carter (USydney) and Richard Cannon (UOtago). The speakers in this symposium were Aidan Kane (USydney), Mario Garcia Solis (UQ), Fran Lopez (Curtin), Amanda McColl (La Trobe), and Erwin Lamping (UOtago).  This symposium gave us a great overview of antifungal resistance including how development of resistance to antimicrobial peptides, in comparison to small molecule antifungals, is slow in Saccharomyces cerevisae, and how understanding the structure and function of pleiomorphic drug transporters may help in avoiding resistance in fungi. Fran told us about new mobile methods for detection and monitoring of antifungal resistance in crops, and Mario and Aidan discussed their work around the re-purposing and development of new antifungal drugs.

Aidan Kane presenting during Day 2 at the University of Queensland

Finishing up the day, our final symposium, chaired by Ben Schultz, was “New Horizons in Fungal Research”. In this symposium our final four speakers were Claudia Vickers (CSIRO), Dariusz Kutyna (AWRI), Tracey Steinrucken (CSIRO) and the AMS 2017 Research Award recipient Amelia-Grace Boxshall. We learned about new tools available for yeast research via the CSIRO Future Science Platform in Synthetic Biology and the ongoing construction of a S. cerevisae pan-genome neo-chromosome to encompass the environmentally and industrially useful genes not found in the S. cerevisae type strain S228c, the subject of the International Synthetic Yeast Genome Project (Sc2.0). Our Society treasurer Tracey Steinrucken discussed the value of using both culture-dependent and culture–independent techniques (MiSeq Next-Generation Sequencing) to analyse fungal endophytes of diseased trees and prioritise them for pathogenicity screening. Finally, Amelia-Grace Boxshall (UMelbourne) presented work partly supported by her AMS Research Award looking into the evolutionary relationships and toxicities of yellow-staining Agaricus lineages.

 

 

 

 

At the end of the meeting, Jemima Wixted (QDAF) and John Dearnaley presented the Jack Warcup Memorial Prize for best student presentations. Best student talk went to Aidan Kane for his seminar “The effect of fluconazole and isoprenoid inhibitors on yeast pathogens”. Best student poster was awarded to Hellem Carneiro (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais/USydney) for her poster “The Agrochemical Benomyl Decreases the Susceptibility of Cryptococcus gattii to Fluconazole”.

Leona Campbell

Relevant Abstract #’s from ASM Conference Booklet

(Day 1; ASM/AMS) & Day 2 (AMS only) abstracts 

Left: Aidan Kane (left) receiving his award from John Dearnaley.

Right: Hellem Carneiro (left) receiving her award from Jemima Wixted.