I recently returned from a successful ECFG12 in Seville, Spain held at the end of March. Some of us flew into Madrid first and took the high speed train to Seville (about 2 1/2 hours) which was a great way to relax and get out of planes after a transatlantic flight. We boarded the train in Madrid and stepped off in Seville.
The satellite meetings held before the conference include organism-specific conferences including Neurospora, Fusarium, Dothiedeomycetes, and Colleotrichum and AsperFest
The conference content was excellent – I am reminded whenever I go to a fungal genetics meeting how fast paced the field has become with the application of genomics and genetics driving studies of cell biology, evolution, and industrial uses of fungi.
It was quite fun to see many of my long term collaborators and colleagues who work in this field. I am also especially interested to see many “non model” systems becoming more tractable with the tools that can be developed based on genome sequencing, transformation techniques, and a growing research community. The separation of “model system” work from applied or medically less clear to me .
This included symbiosis and fungal “communication” or interactions with other organisms such as Hypocreales fungi that are insect associated, as well Dan Vanderpool and his project working on Ophistoma fungi associated with beetles, some interesting Lichen genomics from environmentally sampled thalli from work from Toby Spribille. Work presented by Jessie Uehling from work by collaboration with the Labbé (ORNL) and Vilgalys (Duke) labs included a description of endohyphal symbiotic bacteria associated with Mortierella elongata fungus (a “zygomycete” early diverging lineage) which is associated with tree roots.
I unfortunately missed some of the concurrent session that was happening at the same time but some interesting talks in “Unconventional gene regulation” that I would have liked to hear more about.
I also got to hear good work presented in the session on Fungal development and genomics where Minou Nowrousian spoke on Pyronema genome and developmental biology, Francis Trail‘s talk on Fusarium fruiting body development.
I also enjoyed the session I spoke in, organize by Hanna Johannesson and Toni Gabaldón which included great overviews on application of phylogenomics and genomes to fungal biology. This ranged from Hanna on evolution of sex chromosomes in Neurospora tetrasperma, Saccharomyces and the (amazing) power of yeast genetics and molecular biology (Maitreya Dunham, @dunhamlab) to mycorrhizal fungal genomics (Francis Martin, @fmartin1954), Toni (@gabaldonlab) and the PhylomeDB project but also the analysis of the WGD in Saccharomyces which suggests an alternative scenario for the duplication that may have arisen through allopolyploidization (hybridization between two species) rather than autopolyploidization. Several other great talks in our session including Jaqueline Hess on variation in Amanita genomes, Sarah Schmidt on identifying AVR2 gene in Fusarium oxysporum.
The plenary sessions were plentiful with highlights across the fungal genetics spectrum. From Phycomyces biology (which has had much of its main origins and efforts in Spain) to Magnaporthe (@talbotlabexeter). Many more interesting work highlighted in the program and links to the abstract book are available. I expect a published report on the meeting will come in the future. Overall I really enjoyed the chance to mix more European and international colleagues and talk about the virtues of football and tapas!
Some of us spent a few more days after the meeting to enjoy Spain or meet with friends. For example Zack and I planned some great Neurospora experiments over tapas and sightseeing. Hope to be back to Madrid and Spain again soon.