Part of the aim of AMS is to make Mycological Research more accessible and to amplify the efforts of mycologists in Australasia and around the world. Join us for some of the latest and most exciting mycology-focused seminars, in the comfort of your home or office! You'll be able to learn from experts in medical mycology, biotechnology, environmental microbiology, plant and animal pathology, taxonomy and systematics, and phylogenetics. Seminars normally occur on the last Wednesday of each month at 12:00pm AEST (Sydney time) with any exceptions highlighted. Talks are 30 minutes long and are followed by 15 minutes of questions from the audience. Zoom links are provided prior to the date where you can register to attend.
Seminars are free for AMS members and the public, but we encourage non-members to make a AU$5 donation to our society via PayPal. You can do that by clicking on the PayPal button:
If you are interested in presenting your mycological research, please get in touch with the AMS council.
Upcoming Virtual Seminars
September 21, 12:00 PM AEST: Professor Roger Shivas
Professor of Mycology, University of Southern Queensland
TOPIC: Saving planet Earth - re-evaluating taxonomic best practices
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
And you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
(Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin' lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)
Times are changing, and not in a good way. Consider climate change, habitat destruction, species extinction. Add in declining resources for science in general, and less funds for taxonomy and taxonomists specifically. A potent mix which threatens the sustainability of humankind on this planet. What can taxonomists do about any of this?
It was in 1952 that James Watson and Francis Crick (with the help of Rosalind Francis) discovered the structure of DNA and thereby had found the secret code of life. Deciphering this code is what makes taxonomy possible. It’s been nice to stick around long enough to see taxonomy move from morphological descriptions to DNA barcodes.
So how do we save planet Earth? Find faster and better ways to collect, preserve, and classify the undiscovered life, especially fungi, on this planet. It’s now or never, pedal to the metal.
Roger's talk will immediately precede the AGM which will start at 1:00 PM AEST. You'll need to register separately to attend the AGM at this link:
October 26, 12:00 PM AEST: Dr Jessie Uehling
Assistant Professor of Fungal Biology in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University
TOPIC: Bacterial endosymbionts in the Mucoromycota fungi, lessons from comparative genomics
Summary: Mucoromycota fungi, including both human fungal pathogens and environmental isolates, have ancient and intimate associations with bacterial endosymbionts. In particular, Burkholderia related bacteria have been studied in plant associated Mucoromycota fungi including Mortierella, Rhizopus and relatives. Comparative and evolutionary genomics show that these symbioses impact genome evolution, physiology and functioning of both partners and rely on trade of primary and secondary metabolites and use of secretion systems. Endosymbiont presence in Mucoromycota fungi strongly impacts fungal transcriptional regulation, metabolism, cell wall composition, and the expression of transmembrane sensors. In this presentation, I will discuss ubiquity, diversity, and functioning of fungal endosymbionts and recent key findings from our lab.
Websites and contacts:
Past Virtual Seminars (2022)
August 31, 12:00 PM AEST: Dr Anthony Young
University of Queensland
TOPIC: A Streak Through History: Cracking the Sugarcane Chlorotic Streak Disease Riddle
Summary: Chlorotic Streak Disease (CSD) can be a devastating disease of sugarcane. It emerged in the late 1920s, but the causal agent was not discovered for another 90 years. In that time sugarcane pathologists learned many things about the epidemiology of CSD, including its vegetative and water-borne transmission, some information on varietal susceptibilities and the efficacy of hot water treatment to treat it in propagation material. With the La Niña cycle in full force in 2011, CSD exerted its destructive forces once more, but did so at a time when next generation DNA sequencing platforms had been developed that would ultimately identify the pathogen. This seminar re-introduces a hero of early 20th Century sugarcane science, Dr. Gerharda Wilbrink, and tells the full story of the solving of the CSD riddle
July 27, 12:00 PM AEST: Drs Krista Plett and Sophia Callaghan
NSW Department of Primary Industries, Biosecurity and Food Safety
TOPIC: Biosecurity Behind the Scenes
Summary: When many people hear the word “biosecurity” in Australia, images of airport checkpoints and customs clearance forms flash before their eyes. This represents only a tiny portion, however, of the effort being made on a daily basis to keep Australia free of exotic and potentially devastating pathogens. In this talk, Drs Plett and Callaghan will present a glimpse into the inner workings of the diagnostic and research laboratories supporting biosecurity in New South Wales. With an emphasis on fungal plant pathogens, they will consider the process and challenges of monitoring and diagnosing plant diseases, what happens when a pathogen is found that should not be present in Australia, and how research in diagnostics and surveillance is preparing us for the future by considering new high throughput and environmental screening techniques.
Krista is the Leader of Plant Pathology Research at NSW DPI's Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. Her group supports disease prevention and preparedness through research into diagnostics, surveillance and early detection of plant diseases in NSW, as well as management strategies to minimise their impacts. In addition to working with pathogenic fungi, Krista also has a strong background in beneficial microbes and their role in maintaining plant health and disease resistance.
Sophia is a diagnostic plant pathologist at the NSW DPI Plant Health Diagnostic Service at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. She has 9 years' experience in research and diagnostic capacities. Her research background is in soil-borne pathogens focusing particularly on Fusarium, Phytophthora and Pythium species.
June 29, 12:00 PM AEST: Dr Camille Truong
Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Australia.
TOPIC: Ectomycorrhizal fungi and the nitrogen economy of Nothofagus
Summary: Nitrogen (N) is a primary factor limiting the productivity of temperate forests. Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi provide essential N to their host plants, but research on plant symbioses and C/N pools is disproportionately focused on northern hemisphere regions. For example, conifer vegetation is the main plant functional type in boreal forests, while southern temperate forests are dominated by ECM angiosperms in the families Myrtaceae and Nothofagaceae. In this talk, I will discuss the role of ECM fungi for N availability is subantarctic forests of Patagonia and how diverse soil fungi contribute to shape the highly structured forests of Tierra del Fuego (Chile and Argentina).
May 25, 12:00 PM AEST: Dr Kar-Chun Tan (KC)
The Centre for Crop Disease Management at Curtin University
TOPIC: Untangling the ‘Gordian knot’ – How to unravel a complex fungal disease of wheat by understanding its game of effector hide-and-seek
Summary: Breeding for durable resistance to fungal diseases in crops is a continual challenge for crop breeders. Association studies on mapping populations infected by isolate mixtures are often used by researchers to seek out novel sources of genetic resistance. Often, disease resistance quantitative trait loci (QTL) detected are often minor and inconsistent. This is a problem with septoria nodorum blotch (SNB) of wheat caused by Parastagonospora nodorum. The fungus uses a suite of necrotrophic effectors (NEs) to cause SNB. Interactions between these NEs are complex during infection, where they masked each other’s contribution to SNB through epistasis and impedes progress in breeding for SNB resistance in wheat. We characterised a genetic element, called PE401, in the promoter of the major NE gene Tox1. PE401 functions as a transcriptional repressor of Tox1 and exerts epistatic control on another major SNB resistance QTL in the host. Implications of this finding in crop protection will be discussed.
April 26, 12:00 PM AEST: Dr Alistair McTaggart
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland
TOPIC: Sex and Drugs
Summary: Psilocybin is a psychoactive compound produced by over 200 species of Fungi (magic mushrooms), and has clinical potential to treat anxiety, depression and addiction. Psilocybin is a controlled substance and the biodiversity, taxonomy and distribution of magic mushrooms is poorly understood. Alistair hopes to (i) establish a living biological collection with the first permit granted in Australia to study magic mushrooms, (ii) resolve the taxonomy of Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and (iii) test hypotheses that P. subaeruginosa is native and P. cubensis is introduced to Australia. The project will provide a suite of biological, taxonomic, genomic, and chemical resources for future researchers. The project has potential impact for the international use and biopiracy of putative Australian species of psychoactive mushroom, the importation of living biological resources to produce psilocybin, and ongoing research into potential uses of psilocybin for human health and animal welfare.
March 30, 12:00 PM AEST: Dr Peri Tobias
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney
TOPIC: A chromosome-level genome sheds new light on the mating strategy for Austropuccinia psidii (myrtle rust)
Summary: Environmental plant pathogens pose major challenges for containment. Austropuccinia psidii is a plant fungal pathogen causing rust disease on plants in the Myrtaceae family. Originating in Brazil, the pandemic strain was first found in Australia in 2010 and in New Zealand in 2017. Myrtle rust is a rapidly spreading plant disease and a serious biosecurity threat to Australia’s natural environment. In 2021 we showed that A. psidii had the largest assembled fungal genome at 1 Gbp (haploid), largely due to a massive expansion of transposable elements. The data from the genome permitted the development of molecular markers currently being used for biosecurity testing. Recently we were able to make a more comprehensive chromosome-level genome for this rust fungus. By correctly assigning chromosomes we were able to scrutinise the mating loci in both sets of chromosomes of this dikaryotic organism. This new di-haploid genome provided novel evidence on the mating gene structure and arrangement, only possible from sequence data that has not been collapsed. These findings are useful for determining the biosecurity risks and for understanding potential population structure of the pathogen.
Feb 23, 12:00 PM AEST: Wayne Boatwright
President of the Queensland Mycological Society
Topic: Collecting and Describing Fungi - Citizen Science in Action
Summary: Ever wondered how to find out more about collecting and identifying fungi? Each year the Queensland Mycological Society mentors its members about citizen science by encouraging them to become specimen collectors for and on behalf of Herbaria. Fungal specimens are under-collected but a much needed resource for future mycological work. Our workshop covers everything you need to know about being a specimen collector, from safety in the field, legal and ethical collecting, through to identifying, processing and describing your specimen before lodging this valuable resource at a Herbarium.
If you're interested in learning how to find, ID, collect and describe fungi, join us to hear Wayne give an introduction to his much-sought-after workshop. This seminar is a perfect taster for a broad audience of fungal-enthusiasts including researchers, collectors, farmers, gardeners, citizen scientists, even hikers and students with an eye for natural details.
We'll also be using this seminar to launch the 2022 AMS Research Grants and two new grants offered by our friends at FungiMap which are aimed at funding Citizen Science
27 January 2022, 12 pm: Dr Jonathan Plett
Senior lecturer in plant-microbe interactions at Western Sydney University
Topic: Ecological Mergers: exploring how ectomycorrhizal fungi use secreted signals to negotiate host colonization
Summary: The merger that occurs between plants and mutualistic fungi is negotiated by a complex series of communications, where the vocabulary of the exchange is populated by a range of chemicals and proteins. In the interaction between plants and microbes we can identify hundreds of communication signals using multi-omic approaches. What these lists do not tell us, however, is the function or specificity of these signals within a specific symbiotic interaction. This gap in our knowledge can be addressed by studying the mechanistic activity of these molecules and the context within which they operate. In this talk, I will cover our work into identifying the proteomic, nucleic acid, and metabolomic signals used by mutualistic fungi during the interaction with their host plant. I will specifically focus on one of our main model systems: the mutualistic symbiosis between Pisolithus and Eucalyptus and will discuss some of our current theories upon how minor changes in this molecular dialogue impacts the ultimate fate of the interaction.
Past Virtual Seminars (2021)
January 2021: Dr Stephanie Watts-Fawkes , Watch on YouTube
Research Officer, Crop Nutrition, NSW Department of Primary Industries
Identifying and characterising a zinc transporter involved in the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis
February 2021: Matthias Johannes Salomon, Watch on YouTube
PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide
Global analysis of microbial inoculants containing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi: 84% of the tested products contained no active propagules
March 2021: A/Prof Amanda Black,
Bioprotection Research Centre, Lincoln University
Genomes to Giants: kauri die back and the fight to save these ancient trees
April 2021: Professor Ana Traven,
Infection and Immunity Research Program at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University
Metabolic drives of host-pathogen interactions in fungal infections
May 2021: Dr Sarah Sapsford, Watch on YouTube
Fungal and Disease Ecology, University of Canterbury
How fungi can change ecosystems
June 2021: Professor Treena Burgess, Watch on YouTube
Research and Innovation, Murdoch University
Urban forests; bridge-heads and sentinels for Phytophthora introductions
July 2021: A/Prof Jeff Powell Watch on YouTube
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University
Switching partners - the roles and relationships of dual mycorrhizal systems for eucalypts
August 2021: Dr Kentaro Hosaka Watch on YouTube
National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan
Natural history of blue entolomas, from Japan and the world
September 2021: Dr Yu Pei Tan
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Looking in the cupboard: the hidden diversity of microfungi in Australia.
October 2021: Prof. Levente Kiss Watch on YouTube
University of Southern Queensland
Mycoparasitic fungi in action
December 2021: AMS Research Grant Awardees Watch on YouTube
Dr Elaine Davison, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University; Research Associate of the Western Australian Herbarium
Relationships in Amanita, with particular reference to local species
Rebecca Jane Webb, PhD candidate, James Cook University
Glutathione biosynthesis in the amphibian chytrid fungus