Tag Archives: truffle

Postdoc: Mycology And/or Fungal Ecology of New Zealand’s truffle-like fungi

We are looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated researcher with
a strong interest in mycology and or fungal ecology.

Applications close on Thursday 28 May 2020 at 5pm NZT
https://careers.sciencenewzealand.org/jobdetails/ajid/NGk29/Post-Doctoral-Researcher-Ecology-,38246.html

About The Opportunity

The purpose of this role is to lead and undertake research as part of
a Marsden Fund project aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the
evolutionary history and dispersal ecology of New Zealand’s trufflelike
fungi

Specifically the role will require the successful candidate to plan
and undertake fieldwork collect and analyse field-based evidence
of animal-fungi interactions measure and analyse adaptive traits
scent spectral reflectance in trufflelike fungi and perform spatial
trait-mapping of trufflelike fungi

This position is fixed-term three years and may be based at our Auckland
or Lincoln sites

About You

You will possess a PhD in ecology or a similar field a strong interest
in mycology and or fungal ecology and a research background relevant to
one or more of the following topics ecological interactions coevolution
fungi adaptation and dispersal sensory ecology animal behaviour

You will be enthusiastic and willing to learn new techniques and have
experience organising and leading fieldwork in remote places

The ideal candidate will have excellent communication skills and a solid
publishing record relative to opportunity

Why Manaaki Whenua

Our land our future this is the essence of why Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research exists

At Manaaki Whenua we undertake research that focuses on preserving
New Zealand s rich biodiversity improving biosecurity and protecting
the health of the land fresh water and soil resources we need for a
prosperous future.

We recognise the importance of partnerships the special role of Màori
and the need to ensure that all New Zealanders have the knowledge
understanding and tools to truly live in harmony with our precious
environment.

We are recognised nationally and internationally for the quality of our
research and work with a wide range of organisations within New Zealand and globally

Manaaki Whenua embraces diversity and is committed to an inclusive
and respectful workplace where everyone is valued for their unique
contribution

What we offer

As an employee of Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research you will work with passionate and talented people in a caring and family friendly environment enjoy good staff benefits and the opportunity for personal growth and career development

How to apply

Enquiries about the position may be directed to Jamie Wood
<woodj@landcareresearch.co.nz>

For further details about Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research visit our
website www.landcareresearch.co.nz

Applications close on Thursday 28 May 2020 at 5pm NZT
https://careers.sciencenewzealand.org/jobdetails/ajid/NGk29/Post-Doctoral-Researcher-Ecology-,38246.html

Industry
Non-profit Organization Management  Research  Government Administration

Employment Type-Full-time

Woodj@landcareresearch.co.nz

I’ll have the truffles and huitlacoche

Black TruffleA couple of papers should have captured your attention lately in the realm of fungal genomics.

One is the publication of the genome of the black truffle Tuber melanosporum. This appears as an advanced publication at Nature (OA by virtue of Nature’s agreement on genome papers) along with a NYT writeup and is a tasty exploration of the genome of an ascomycete ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungus. There are several gems in there including the differences in transposable element content, content of gene families related to carbohydrate metabolism. This genome helps open the doorway for exploring the several independent origins of ECM in both ascomycete and basidiomycete fungi.

I’ll also point out there is some work on the analysis of mating type locus found in this genome has applied aspects suggesting that inoculation of roots with both mating types may increase truffle yields in truffle farms. Evidence for sexual reproduction is also discovered from this genome analysis based on the sexual cycle genes present and the structure of the MAT locus.  Much like what was revealed in the genome analysis of the previously ‘asexual’ species Aspergillus fumigatus (and later reconstitution of a sexual cycle), the Tuber genome has the potential for mating and is a heterothallic (outcrossing) fungus based on its mating type locus -just like many other filamentous Ascomycete species.

A second paper I encourage you take a look at (those with a Science subscription) is from Virginia Walbot’s lab on the formation of tumors by U. maydis in Maize. These tumors end up destroying the corn but can produce a delicious (to some) dish that is huitlacooche. The idea that the fungus is co-opting the host system by secreting proteins that acted in the same way as native proteins and that it has a tissue or organ specific repertoire was one that her lab has been pursuing. U. maydis can grow inside corn without detection and  the formation of tumors seems to be a manipulation of the plant as much as it is the pathogen directly taking resources from the plant.  It reminds me a bit of the production of secondary metabolites that can control plant growth like gibberellins produced by fungi.  This kind of manipulation and also ability to evade detection suggests a pretty specific set of controls that prevent the fungus from doing the wrong thing at the wrong time (to avoid detection). So they set out to see if there are a set of organ specific genes that the fungus uses during infection that would suggest a very host-specific strategy by this corn smut.

In this paper the authors evaluate the role of fungal genes specifically expressed in infection of different organs and also the role of secreted proteins in colonization of the organs.  In what is impressive and elegant work, the authors show through the use of microarrays and genetics that there is plant tissue specific gene expression of U. maydis – so infections in leaves express a different set of genes than those in seedlings.  Genetic and phenotypic evaluation of fungal strains with knockouts of sets of the predicted secreted proteins was able to confirm a role for specific secreted proteins that previously may have not had any discernible phenotype. They infect strains with knockouts of sets of genes that encode secreted proteins and compare the virulence when these strains infect individual organs of the maize host.  They showed there is significantly different virulence in the various tissues for a some of the mutants suggesting an organ-specific role for virulence of secreted proteins. They also go on to show that some of this organ specific infection requires organ-specific gene expression by evaluating maize mutants and the ability of the fungus to infect different organs.

Future work will hopefully followup to see what these secreted proteins are manipulating in the host and how they either enable virulence by protecting the pathogen, avoiding detection by turning of host responses, or co-opting host gene networks in some other way.

Martin F, Kohler A, Murat C, Balestrini R, Coutinho PM, Jaillon O, Montanini B, Morin E, Noel B, Percudani R, Porcel B, Rubini A, Amicucci A, Amselem J, Anthouard V, Arcioni S, Artiguenave F, Aury JM, Ballario P, Bolchi A, Brenna A, Brun A, Buée M, Cantarel B, Chevalier G, Couloux A, Da Silva C, Denoeud F, Duplessis S, Ghignone S, Hilselberger B, Iotti M, Marçais B, Mello A, Miranda M, Pacioni G, Quesneville H, Riccioni C, Ruotolo R, Splivallo R, Stocchi V, Tisserant E, Viscomi AR, Zambonelli A, Zampieri E, Henrissat B, Lebrun MH, Paolocci F, Bonfante P, Ottonello S, & Wincker P (2010). Périgord black truffle genome uncovers evolutionary origins and mechanisms of symbiosis. Nature PMID: 20348908

Skibbe DS, Doehlemann G, Fernandes J, & Walbot V (2010). Maize tumors caused by Ustilago maydis require organ-specific genes in host and pathogen. Science (New York, N.Y.), 328 (5974), 89-92 PMID: 20360107

Invasion of not so tasty truffles.

(Truffle picture from BBC.com)

The BBC (link) has an interesting article about a  Chinese Black truffle being found as an invasive species in Italy. The Italian’s and European truffle aficionados are worried that the Chinese Black Truffle will outcompete the Perigord Black truffle, which is supposed to be very tasty and the second most expensive truffle by weight, behind only the Piedmont White Truffle.

The scientific journal article (link) the BBC cites is present in the new phytologist and was authored by a lab from the “Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell’Università di Torino. Looks like the Chinese truffle species could be a good invasive species model and also economically important.

Truffles are interesting its amazing people would pay so much for a mushroom, sadly I can’t say if one tastes better than the other since I have not had the chance to try of the truffles mentioned above.