The Alaskan Goo demystified

Another delightful well written piece by Jennifer Frazer in her SciAm blog. She presents a solution to a unknown fungus that showed up as a blanket of orange spores in the water near the town of Kivalina, Alaska. “Mystery of Alaskan “Goo” Rust Solved at Last”. Jennifer writes that the rust spores are from:

Spruce-Labrador Tea Needle RustChrysomyxa ledicola, a parasite of both spruce trees and arhododendron — a flowering woody shrub common to conifer understories the world over — called Labrador Tea.


Postdoc position in Fungal biodiversity at Max Planck-Marburg

Post doc position in the Max Planck Research Group in Fungal Biodiversity

A one-­?year (renewable depending on results) postdoctoral position is available in the field of molecular evolution and computational biology in the newly established Max Planck Research Group in Fungal Biodiversity headed by Dr. Eva H. Stukenbrock. Our team is part of the Max Planck Institute of Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany.


We study speciation and host specialization processes in fungal plant pathogens in an evolutionary and ecological context. A main goal of our research is to understand the underlying molecular mechanism of species divergence and adaptive processes in host-­?pathogen systems. We integrate functional and experimental approaches with high throughput sequence data and bioinformatics to study the functional and evolutionary biology of closely related pathogen species, which have evolved and specialized to different hosts and environments. Our model system is a group of closely related grass pathogens including the prominent wheat pathogen Mycosphaerella graminicola. To contrast evolutionary processes in different ecosystems we have compared population genomic data from M. graminicola and closely related species infecting non-­cultivated hosts in natural grasslands. In the lab, we validate and characterize candidate genes emerging from our evolutionary predictions. For this we have developed genetic tools and functional assays to study the role of candidate genes in host specialization or speciation.


This post doctoral project focuses on the evolution of gene regulation, and its implication in host specialization and speciation. The selected post doc candidate will be in charge of analyzing a large transcriptome dataset including RNAseq data from different combinations of host and pathogen species. Research perspectives are open, and the post doc candidate will be largely involved in the design of all experiments and analyses, providing they relate to host specialization and speciation.


The post doctoral candidate will ideally:

  •  Have a PhD in evolutionary biology with expertise in bioinformatics and genomics.
  •  Be proficient in statistical computing, including experience with R and analysis of large data sets in a linux environment.
  •  Have basic programming / scripting skills (Bash, Perl, Python, or similar).


Application should be sent to Eva H. Stukenbrock (eva.stukenbrock@mpi-­ before May 1st. The position will however remain open until filled. The application should include a short CV with statement of research interests, together with a cover letter including names and contact information of two references.

Relevant papers

Stukenbrock EH et al. Genome Res. 2011 Dec;21(12):2157-­?66.
Stukenbrock EH et al. PLoS Genet. 2010 Dec 23;6(12):e1001189
Stukenbrock EH et al. Mol Biol Evol. 2007 Feb;24(2):398-­?411.

Postdoctoral position in tropical mycorrhizal diversity

The Peay Lab ( has a potential opening for a postdoctoral research scientist to work on an NSF funded project investigating the diversity and ecology of ectomycorrhizal fungi in Dipterocarp rainforests in Malaysia. The project will build a molecular database of mycorrhizal fungi in Dipterocarp forests to facilitate fungal ecology research in southeast Asia.

Major duties of the position would include working with collaborators from the US and Malaysia to help coordinate field surveys and local taxonomic workshops, as well as implementation of molecular ecology studies of ectomycorrhizal & fungal diversity on plant roots and soils. There will also be opportunities to develop independent research questions working in this system. The position would involve substantial field time at the Pasoh & Lambir Hills National Parks.

The ideal candidate would
(1) be a Malaysian national or have experience working in SE Asia,
(2) have a demonstrated ability to work in tropical rainforest field conditions,
(3) have experience with molecular techniques for studying microbial diversity,
(4) have a background in fungal biology or taxonomy,
(5) have experience sampling ectomycorrhizal roots.

Interested candidates should email a SINGLE PDF to containing (1) a short (<1 page) statement of interest, (2) contact information for 3 potential references, and (3) a CV.  The position will begin in the summer of 2012.  Review of applications will begin immediately and the position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found. Initial hire is for 1 year with potential for 1 year extension based on satisfactory performance.

Kabir G. Peay, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Plant Pathology
University of Minnesota