April: visitors, morels, and MASMC

April is a beautiful time of year in North Carolina and a great time to visit Duke University. This month we hosted several visitors to our lab, and also attended MASMC

Neolecta irregularis

Neolecta irregularis

Apr 14: Alija Mujic (Ph.D., Oregon State University, currently in the Matt Smith lab at Univ. of Florida)
“Out of Western North America: systematics and phylogeography of Rhizopogon subgenus Villosuli based on genome-scale sequence typing”

Alija was one of this semester’s Systematics Discussion Group speakers, presented a research seminar on genome evolution in truffles.  During his visit, Alija joined the microbial ecology class for a field trip to Duke Forest to hunt morels (we found one, also some nice specimens of Neolecta).

IMG_9357Apr 21: Tracey Steinrucken (Fulbright Fellow, Ph.D. student at Hawkesbury Ecological Institute, West Sydney University, Australia).
“Endophytes, Dieback and Invasive Plants”.
Tracey just finished a 9 month Fulbright fellowship in the Mateo Garbelloto lab at UC-Berkeley,  afterward visited our lab for one week before joining our lab group on a road trip to this year’s MASMC conference at Penn State Univ. (see below)

IMG_9364April 21: Dan Jacobson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
“Discovery of Plant Functions Involved in Microbial Interactions: Pleiotropic and Epistatic Networks for Populus trichocarpa”

Dan is a computational biologist and central coPI for the Plant-Microbial Interfaces (PMI) Genomics SFA (that also supports our lab) through the U.S. Dept. of Energy.  He presented a seminar on the application of network analysis for integrating metagenomic data for the Populus microbiome.


April 24-26:  MASMC – Middle Atlantic States Mycology Conference, Penn State Univ.
We had perfect weather for a roadtrip back into early spring at State College, PA hosted by David Geiser & Co.  MASMC has been the premier mycological reunion held every spring, now 35 years running.  This year’s keynote speaker was Prof. M. Cathie Aime, who presented a knuckle-gripping presentation on fungal diversity of Guyana.  As always, great opportunity to hear what new students are working on, and catching up with the greater family of fungal biologists from all over eastern USA (and much further abroad).  I have to admit, every MASMC is better than the one before it.

IMG_9431April 28: Alejandro Rojas, Ph.D. candidate, Michigan State University
“Oomycete community diversity: the soybean root rot complex”
Alejandro presented his PhD research to the SDG group about nextgen barcoding of oomycete diversity and its application for plant disease surveillance.  He will be joining our lab later this summer as a postdoc.


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