Tag Archives: zygomycete

Postdoc: UMichigan Fungal Genomics

The lab of Tim James in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan is looking to hire a postdoctoral fellow in the area of single cell and comparative genomics. The research is centered on understanding the phylogeny and molecular evolution of uncultured and poorly known fungi, including the Cryptomycetes, Zygomycetes, and Chytridiomycetes through genomic analyses. The ultimate goals of the project are to produce a well-resolved phylogeny of the basal branches of the fungal kingdom, to identify key evolutionary events associated with diversification and reproduction, and to use genomics to predict ecological roles of uncultured lineages. A major component of the work will be to develop or improve methods for sequencing fungal genomes and transcriptomes using single or few cells or genome assembly using metagenomic approaches. This work will involve collaborations with the ZyGOLife research network (zygolife.org) and the Joint Genome Institute (JGI). The projects are supported by NSF and two JGI Community Sequencing Projects.

The ideal candidate will be skilled in bioinformatics, molecular biology, and microbiology with an interest in fungi. Preference will be given to candidates with proficiency in both bioinformatics and molecular biology. Possible duties include environmental sampling, cell sorting (FACS, micromanipulation), microscopy, genome assembly and annotation, and comparative analyses of genome evolution. Opportunities for mentoring undergraduates or research associates will be provided. The initial appointment is for one year with a possibility of extension to a second year pending performance review.

Our lab (www.umich.edu/~mycology) pursues diverse projects in mycology, and the environment is conducive to development of a pathway to independence in academic research. The lab is in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (http://www.eeb.lsa.umich.edu/eeb/index.html), which has strengths in phylogenetics, evolutionary genomics, and disease ecology.

Interested applicants should email Tim James (tyjames@umich.edu) with a CV, cover letter, and the names and contact information of three references.

Anticipated Start Date: Between Oct. 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017.

The University of Michigan is a non-discriminatory/affirmative action employer. The Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan harbors multiple labs with a focus on evolutionary genetics (http://www.lsa.umich.edu/eeb).

Timothy Y. James
Associate Professor
Associate Curator of Fungi
Department of Ecology and Evolution
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
734-615-7753
tyjames@umich.edu
http://www.umich.edu/~mycology/

Postdoc: Early diverging fungi in the James lab at U. Michigan

The James Lab at the University of Michigan is looking to hire a postdoctoral fellow in the area of single cell and comparative genomics. The research is centered on understanding the phylogeny, life cycles, and nutrition of early diverging fungi, including the Zygomycetes, Cryptomycetes, and Chytridiomycetes through genomic analyses. The ultimate goals of the project are to produce a well-resolved phylogeny of the basal branches of the fungal kingdom, to identify key evolutionary events associated with diversification and reproduction, and to use genomics to predict ecological roles of uncultured lineages. A major component of the work will be to develop or improve methods for sequencing genomes and transcriptomes using single or few cells or genome assembly using metagenomic approaches. This work will involve collaborations with the ZyGOLife research network (zygolife.org) and the Joint Genome Institute (JGI). The projects are supported by NSF and two JGI Community Sequencing Projects.

The ideal candidate will be skilled in bioinformatics, molecular biology, and cultivation/microscopy of fungi. Preference will be given to candidates with proficiency in both bioinformatics and molecular biology. Possible duties include environmental sampling, cell sorting (FACS, micromanipulation), microscopy, genome assembly and annotation, and comparative analyses of genome evolution. Opportunities for mentoring undergraduates or research associates will be provided. The initial appointment is for one year with a possibility of extension to a second year pending performance review.

Our lab (www.umich.edu/~mycology) pursues diverse projects in mycology, and the environment is conducive to development of a pathway to independence in academic research. The lab is in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (http://www.eeb.lsa.umich.edu/eeb/index.html), which has strengths in phylogenetics, evolutionary genomics, and disease ecology.

Interested applicants should email Tim James (tyjames@umich.edu) with a CV, cover letter, and the names and contact information of three references.

Papers on our desk

A quick post of some recent comparative genomics papers on our desk that are worth a look.

  • Khaldi N, Wolfe KH (2008) Elusive Origins of the Extra Genes in Aspergillus oryzae. PLoS ONE 3(8): e3036. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003036. This was a cool but somewhat controversal finding presented at Fungal Genetics last year.
  • Casselton, LA. Fungal sex genes – searching for the ancestors. doi: 10.1002/bies.20782. A review of recent findings about the Zygomycete MAT locus.
  • Soanes DM, Alam I, Cornell M, Wong HM, Hedeler C, et al. (2008) Comparative Genome Analysis of Filamentous Fungi Reveals Gene Family Expansions Associated with Fungal Pathogenesis. PLoS ONE 3(6): e2300. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002300
  • Lee DW, Freitag M, Selker EU, Aramayo R (2008) A Cytosine Methyltransferase Homologue Is Essential for Sexual Development in Aspergillus nidulans. PLoS ONE 3(6): e2531. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002531

Will a zygomycete help solve our energy woes?

I found the headline today, “Biofuels: Fungus Use Improves Corn-to-ethanol Process” and I was curious to find out what fungus they were talking about in the article. It turns out that researchers at Iowa State University found that Rhizopus microsporus is able to grow off part of the leftovers of ethanol production called thin stillage. The reason this is so exciting is explained below:


(Rhizopus sporangium, picture taking during PMB 110L @ UC Berkeley)

The fuel is recovered by distillation, but there are about six gallons of leftovers for every gallon of fuel that’s produced. Those leftovers, known as stillage, contain solids and other organic material. Most of the solids are removed by centrifugation and dried into distillers dried grains that are sold as livestock feed, primarily for cattle.
The remaining liquid, known as thin stillage, still contains some solids, a variety of organic compounds from corn and fermentation as well as enzymes. Because the compounds and solids can interfere with ethanol production, only about 50 percent of thin stillage can be recycled back into ethanol production. The rest is evaporated and blended with distillers dried grains to produce distillers dried grains with solubles.
The researchers added a fungus, Rhizopus microsporus, to the thin stillage and found it would feed and grow. The fungus removes about 80 percent of the organic material and all of the solids in the thin stillage, allowing the water and enzymes in the thin stillage to be recycled back into production.
The fungus can also be harvested. It’s a food-grade organism that’s rich in protein, certain essential amino acids and other nutrients. It can be dried and sold as a livestock feed supplement. Or it can be blended with distillers dried grains to boost its value as a livestock feed and make it more suitable for feeding hogs and chickens.

The idea of being more efficient by saving water and producing nutritious animal feed that can produce healthier animals that produce more meat is very interesting and worthwhile. But the article never mentions that many Rhizopus species are considered pathogens and R. microsporus when paired with Burkholderia rhizoxinia, a endosymbiont that produces rhizoxin, essentially becomes the pathogen responsible for rice seedling blight. Rhizopus also can cause serious mycoses in humans (The non squeamish can search for rhizopus mycoses on google).

I am curious if this Rhizopus has any endosymbionts that could be helping it grow on stillage or what other fungi that may not be potential pathogens might be out there that could also grow on the thin stillage.

Fungal tree of life papers

Lots of papers in Mycologia (subscription required) this month of different groups analyzing the fine-scale relationships of many different fungal clades using the loads of sequences that were generated as part of the Fungal Tree of Life project.

Some highlights – there are just too many papers in the issue to cover them all. As usual with more detailed studies of clades with molecular sequences we find that morphologically defined groupings aren’t always truly monophyletic and some species even end up being reclassified. Not that molecular sequence approaches are infallable, but for many fungi the morphological characters are not always stable and can revert (See Hibbet 2004 for a nice treatment of this in mushrooms; subscription required).

  • Meredith Blackwell and others describe the Deep Hypha research coordination network that helped coordinate all the Fungal Tree of Life-rs.
  • John Taylor and Mary Berbee update their previous dating work with new divergence dates for the fungi using as much of the fossil evidence as we have.
  • The early diverging Chytridiomycota, Glomeromycota, and Zygomycota are each described. Tim James and others present updated Chytridiomycota relationships so of which were only briefly introducted in the kingdom-wide analysis paper published last year.
  • There is a nice overview paper of the major Agaricales clades (mushrooms for the non-initiated) from Brandon Matheny as well as as individual treatment of many of the sub-clades like the cantharelloid clade (mmm chanterelles…) .
  • Relationships of the Puccinia clade are also presented – we blogged about the wheat pathogen P. graminis before.
  • A new Saccharomycetales phylogeny is presented by Sung-Oui Suh and others.
  • The validity of the Archiascomycete group is also tested (containing the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the mammalian pathogen Pneumocystis) and they confirm that it is basal to the two sister clades the euascomycete (containing Neurospora) and hemiascomycete (containing Saccharomyces) clades. However it doesn’t appear there are enough sampled species/genes to confirm monophyly of the group. There are/will be soon three genome sequences of Schizosaccharomyces plus one or two Pneumocystis genomes – it will be interesting to see how this story turns out if more species can be identified.

This was a monster effort by a lot of people who it is really nice to see it all have come together in what looks like some really nice papers.

Fungal Genetics 2007 details

I’m including a recapping as many of the talks as I remember. There were 6 concurrent sessions each afternoon so you have to miss a lot of talks. The conference was bursting at the seams as it was- at least 140 people had to be turned away beyond the 750 who attended.

If there was any theme in the conference it was “Hey we are all using these genome sequences we’ve been talking about getting”. I only found the overview talks that solely describe the genome solely a little dry as compared to those more focused on particular questions. I guess my genome palate is becoming refined.

Continue reading Fungal Genetics 2007 details

Phycomyces Genome Release 1

phycomycesThe JGI has released the Phycomyces blakesleeanus genome. This represents the second Zygomycete genome sequence that has been released in addition to Rhizopus oryzae that was released by the Broad Institute last year. We are now getting a better look at the basal fungal genomes including the Chytrids and Zygomycetes. Much more on specifics of Phycomyces biology and history are on this site run by the group organizing the genome analysis.

I find one of the most interesting things about P. blakesleeanus is its phototropism. We know light sensing is controlled, in part, by the gene white-collar 1. A homolog of this gene in Neurospora crassa is involved as an oscillator circadian rhythm. Of course many more genes are involve in pathways for light sensing including some really old proteins like phytochromes.

There will be a lot of cool analyses to do with this genome beyond phototropism. I am looking forward to seeing what gene families are unique and expanded in this species relative to the other zygomycete. It also looks like it is quite intron rich much like the Basidiomycetes, further supporting the idea that fungi had intron rich ancestors.