Happy trails!

A quick note to say congrats and good luck to postdocs and students who finished up the summer.

Graduate student Steven Ahrendt who graduated from the GGB program and is now a postdoc at the JGI / UC Berkeley.

Postdoc Ousmane Cissé finished his fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation and moved on to the NIH on a fellowship to work on Pneumocystis.

Postdoc Rod Olarte moved to the University of Minnesota on a NSF postdoctoral fellowship.

Undergraduates Dillon McDonald and Christina Uriarte also finished their summer projects in the HSI-STEM and MARCU programs.

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Congratulations Dr Yizhou Wang

The end of the quarter was a blur but I wanted to properly congratulate Yizhou Wang. Dr Wang successfully defended his PhD in December and submitted his dissertation “Discovery and Properties of Small RNAs from Meiotic Silencing by Unpaired DNA in Neurospora crassa”  in the Plant Biology graduate program. He is our newest graduate from the lab and we couldn’t be happier and proud for him. He was able to complete a concentration MS in Statistics at the same time and was able to master bioinformatics and data analysis of next generation sequencing and comparative genomics along with small RNA Northerns, Southern Blots, and Neurospora culturing and care. He has been a great asset to the lab and I am delighted that he has finished this part of his education and training and excited for his next steps.

Yizhou_Asilomar_1He is serious about his cooking, treating us to some great meals from BBQ to a Chinese seafood extravaganza.

New Zygomycete evolution project in lab

A new NSF funded project on Zygomycete fungi was recently funded. The press release from UCR and NSF provide some more information on the scope of the project and the goals of the new Genealogy of Life initiative at the NSF.

We’ll be sharing news, data and protocols, and progress on the project website ZyGoLife.org and @zygolife  and looking to recruit one graduate student and some undergraduates to work on the projects in our lab focused on genomics and phylogenomic studies of these diverse lineages.

IMC10 – Bangkok, Thailand

I had the great opportunity to attend the International Mycological Congress 10 in Bangkok, Thailand during this summer. It was filled with talks from mycologists studying cell biology, genetics, evolution, symbioses, ecology, production of secondary metabolites, and many other aspects of mycology from across the world. It was a great chance to hear about new work in many different experimental systems.  I chaired a session on Population Genomics and GWAS in Fungi and got to hear some great perspectives and approaches on model and non-model systems. I presented my talk on data analysis tools in metagenomics. I got to catch up with many friends/collaborators/colleagues and meet some new folks.

I’m jealous of the folks who got to take some of the post-conference excursions through Thailand or ventured even further to Laos and Cambodia. Hopefully next trip to this area I’ll have the chance to explore more.

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Mucormycotina cell wall paper published

Congrats to Divya and Jason as our paper with collaborators Hugo Melida and Vincent BuloneDeciphering the uniqueness of Mucoromycotina cell walls by combining biochemical and phylogenomic approaches is now available at Environmental Microbiology. We discovered in this work that two Mucormycotina species have novel fucose sugar composition in their cell walls which is not found in other Fungi. We also identify expansions and unique subfamilies of Chitin synthase genes.