Tag Archives: symbiosis

Grad Student postion: Hynson lab for Fungal Ecology, U Hawaii

Thinking about graduate school for 2016 and interested in Fungal ecology and evolution?

Graduate Student Opportunities in Fungal Ecology

The Hynson lab at the University of Hawaii Manoa, Department of Botany is currently recruiting highly motivated, enthusiastic, and well-qualified graduate students for Fall 2016 enrollment. In particular, I am seeking students interested in the ecology and evolution of terrestrial orchid mycorrhizae. However, students with strong backgrounds in fungal biology, ecology and/or evolution that are interested in systems other than orchid mycorrhizae will also be considered. I am primarily seeking graduate student applicants at the PhD level, but will consider MSc applicants as well. Interested parties should send by email me a copy of their current academic resume or CV, their unofficial transcripts and a brief statement of their research interests for grad school.

For more information on the Hynson Lab and how to apply see: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~nhynson/Hynson_Lab/Welcome.html or contact Nicole Hynson at nhynson@hawaii.edu

Postdoc: genome evolution of mycoheterotrophic plants.

 Naturalis has a position for a Postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Vincent Merckx

 We seek a postdoctoral fellow for a 12-month project on the genome evolution of mycoheterotrophic plants. The project will employ next-generation sequencing techniques for de novo  genome and transcriptome assembly of achlorophyllous mycoheterotrophic flowering plants. There will be a strong focus on genome assembly and genome comparison to dectect common genetic patterns in the evolution of mycoheterotrophy.

Full advert is here: Postdoc_Merckx

More information: mycoheterotrophy.com
Twitter: @VMerckx
YouTube: youtube.com/vincentmerckx

Postdoc: Insect-Fungus Symbiosis (University of Florida)

Postdoc: Insect-Fungus Symbiosis

Do you have experience with any of the following:

  • diversity and genetics of fungi
  • high-throughput marker-based community surveys
  • next-gen sequencing library preparation

Do you want to work in one of the best-to-live-in towns in America?

Join our growing Symbiology team at the University of Florida to study the Ambrosia Symbiosis: beetles that farm fungus gardens to kill and digest trees. www.ambrosiasymbiosis.org

Please send your CV to Jiri Hulcr, hulcr@ufl.edu
Application deadline: December 10, 2013

Jiri Hulcr, Assistant Professor
University of Florida | School of Forest Resources and Conservation www.ambrosiasymbiosis.org

The superpowers of endophytes

New Scientist has an article entitled “Fungus-powered superplants may beat the heat” on how endophytic fungi from thermotollerant grass – Dichanthelium lanuginosum – can be used to improved drought-, salt-, and cold- tolerance of many other plants including rice. This symbiosis of the endophyte and grass also has additional player in the form of a mycovirus that infects the fungus which we’ve talked about before. The article doesn’t seem to reference any recently published papers but mainly the ongoing work for field trials and the application of these endophytes to speed the adaptations of the plants.

This complicated partnership is a fascinating example of the complex strategies that have evolved among these organisms as part of colonization of new niches. It is also quite likely, they are along for the ride in most plant systems and we are just now beginning to see their diversity and function.

Ectomycorrhizal fungus Laccaria bicolor genome

Today, I would like to share the news about the publication of the Laccaria bicolor genome. This is the first mycorrhizal symbiotic genome published in the Nature journal. The title is “The genome of Laccaria bicolor provides insights into mycorrhizal symbiosis”.

The team consisteing of more than 60 researchers from 16 institutions have revealed the interaction between plant and fungi.

For complete publication and additional news.

Would a Beetle by another name smell as sweet?

I read this blurb in the New Scientist about a PNAS paper (subscription required for next 6 months) on how hive beetles (Aethina tumida) are able to infest bee hives by throwing off the bees because they are producing isopentyl acetate which is thought to be produced and used by bees to signal an alarm. So the increased levels of the pheromone disorients the bees allowing beetles to continue infecting. European bees appear to be susceptible to this attack while the African bees have apparently evolved to better handle the beetle infestation. I’m not clear if the African bees have a different behavior or if they have different biochemical pathways/receptors to not be fooled by the cheap perfume of the invaders.

Beetles + isopentyl acetate = Unstoppable!

The fungus part here is that the beetles are carrying a hemiascomycete yeast, Kodamaea ohmeri in the Saccharomyces clade (see Suh and Blackwell 2005 for more details), which produces the isopentyl acetate pheromone. So it is a sort of auto-immune hive reaction where the defense mechanism is being short-circuited and harming the host.

Continue reading Would a Beetle by another name smell as sweet?

Experimental cooperative evolution

Blogging about Peer-Reviewed ResearchA paper in Nature this week describes how a few mutations can alter the interactions between species in a biofilm from competitive to cooperative system. This is a great study that goes from start to finish on studying community interactions, looking at an evolved phenotype, and understanding the genetic and physiological basis for the adaptation.

Acinetobacter sp. and Pseudomonas putida were raised in a carbon-limited environment with only benzyl alcohol as the carbon source. Acinetobacter can processes the benzyl alcohol, while P. putida is unable to. Acinetobacter takes up the bezyl alcohol and secretes benzoate that P. putida can then use as a carbon source. The research group propagated these in chemostats and looked at different starting concentrations of the organisms. They found that evolved P. putida had a different morphology and did several experiments to determine the relative fitness of the derived and ancestral genotype.

They went on to also map the mutations in P. putida and found two independent mutations in wapH (I think this is the right gene)—a gene involved in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis. They then engineered the ancestral strain to have a mutation in P. putida and found the rough colony phenotype morphology indistinguishable from the strain derived from experimental evolution.

There are various evolutionary and niche adaptation implications arising from this study. One application to mycology is to how lichens evolved in that an algael cell and a fungal cell must communicate and cooperate.

Tripartate symbioses with fungi

Ants, fungi, and bacteria

I have to admit that I am fascinated by co-evolution of symbiotic and mutalistic systems. A review by Richard Robinson gives an overview. A great example is the mutalism between ants and fungi where the ants cultivate the fungi for food. There are more layers to the relationship as a fungal parasite (Escovopsis) attacks the cultivated fungi, and a bacteria. Several researchers have studied the coevolution of these studies including Ulrich Mueller and Cameron Currie. Currie and Mueller have published several great studies describing the patterns of coevolution and the nature of the cooperation.
Continue reading Tripartate symbioses with fungi