Speakers and Programme
Erute Magdalene Adongbede
Associate Professor of Mycology and Plant Pathology at the Department of Botany, University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Bioprocessing of pharmacologically important compounds from edible mushrooms in Nigeria.
Mushrooms are superfoods with potential industrial applications in the pharmaceutical and agro-industrial companies. The major challenges facing a developing economy like Nigeria are food insecurity, malnutrition, and environmental pollution. Domestication of indigenous mushrooms for food, drugs, biofuel, and economic benefits is a solution. Biomass production by submerged and solid-state fermentation of lignocellulosic wastes is simple and achievable in a developing economy like Nigeria. Sawdust of Mansonia altissima and Nauclea didderichii are currently being investigated for pharmaceutical production by edible and medicinal mushrooms. The compounds oleic acid, palmitoleic acid, linoleate, thymol, oxazepam, lidocaine, E-15-heptadecenal, hentriacontane, pyridine-3-carboxamide (Vitamin B3), linalool, globulol, sesamin and beta-sitosterol have been biosynthesized from the submerged fermentation of the sawdust of two medicinally important plants in Nigeria by Pleurotus ostreatus. Emphasis is placed on production of pharmaceuticals from bioprocessing of mycelia biomass for bioactive compounds.
Associate Professor at Bioprotection Aotearoa, Centre of Research Excellence/Lincoln University, New Zealand.
Genomes to Giants: kauri dieback and the battle to save New Zealand's ancient trees.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s native and long lived (2000 years) kauri (Agathis australis) forest are under threat from the spread of dieback disease, caused by the invasive soil-borne pathogen Phytophthora agathidicida. P. agathidicida is an oomycete pathogen with several life cycle stages, including environmentally resistant oospores, which play a key role in the long- term survival of Phytophthora in soils. Treating infected soil presents a huge challenge; current management practices are focused on preventing spread of infected soil through strict forest hygiene measures, pig and livestock control, walking track upgrades and closures, and public awareness campaigns. In this presentation, I will outline the history and current measures to try and save these iconic tree species.
Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota.
Poles Apart: fungi attacking the historic wooden expedition huts of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Our research on polar fungi began with studies to determine the fungi responsible for degradation in the historic wooden huts of Antarctica built during Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions. This work revealed extraordinary fungi that can survive extreme conditions were responsible for causing degradation in the huts. Although poles apart, similar types of fungi can be found in the Arctic. Our investigations on historic wooden huts from the Greely Expedition and Peary Expeditions in northern Ellesmere Island, archaeological wood from Indigenous and Norse settlements in Greenland, and Arctic driftwood report a diverse assemblage of remarkable fungi. Climate change is affecting the Polar Regions and fungi, often the first organisms to respond to environmental changes, appear to be also affected with increased periods of growth and decomposition rates. This is having detrimental effects on archaeological wood and historic structures in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Assistant Professor at Tohoku University, Japan.
Intelligence of fungi.
Does a fungus have intelligence? If we define intelligence as a corrective behaviour of organisms to improve their performance in changing environment, yes it does. By using microcosm experiments, I found that foraging fungal mycelia can make decision and memory, depending on resource amount and quality. People may think that such behaviour is just an ‘environmental response’ of organisms and is not an intelligence. But imagine that intelligence of human emerges from accumulation and networking of ‘environmental response’ of numerous neurons. Yes, a fungus is not thinking in the sense that we, a brained animal, thinks, but some of the underlying cellular processes of signal transduction may be bound to be homologous, and which is sufficient for fungi to solve complex issues they encounter in the environment.
Foundress and Executive Director of the Fungi Foundation.
Funga: the F word we all need to say.
Fungi have long been neglected from conservation and education frameworks worldwide. The term "fauna & flora" is obsolete, and incorporating the third F word - funga - is now up to us. It brings us closer to acknowledging Kingdom Fungi when referring to macroscopic life on earth.
Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Plant Pathology at the University of California, Riverside.
A Tale of Two Megafires: fire effects on fungi.
Mega-fires are increasing in frequency, size, and severity across the globe. They have far reaching impacts on human health, property, and ecosystems. Fungi are important for soil and plant recovery after wildfires, and how they are impacted by mega-fires is still largely unknown. Here, I take advantage of two catastrophic mega-fires burning down my plots to examine fire impacts on fungi and to identify fungi that appear to be adapted to wildfires.
Professor at the University of Exeter and the University of Utrecht.
Fungi and food security.
Over the past centuries crop diseases have led to the starvation of the people, the ruination of economies and the downfall of governments. Of the various challenges, the threat to plants of fungal infection outstrips that posed by any other microbe. Indeed, fungal diseases have been increasing in severity and scale since the mid 20th Century and now pose a serious threat to global food security and ecosystem health. We face a future blighted by known adversaries, by new variants of old foes and by new diseases, with this threat being heightened by the impact of climate change. This talk will highlight some current notable and persistent fungal diseases of both calorie and commodity crops and discuss tree diseases. I shall conclude with some thoughts on future threats and challenges, on disease mitigation and of ways of enhancing global food security.
Associate Professor at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.
Occupants of the ocean from the deepest abyss to seaweed beds.
This presentation gives an overview of what marine fungi are, how many there are and what they are doing in the Ocean. Examples are given of marine fungi that could be utilized for the good of human society.
Professor at Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris), and at Universities of Kunming (China) and Gdansk (Poland).
The interactive life of truffles.
Truffles are not only gastronomic delicacies for the table: their ecology is a delicacy of interactions with other life forms. They associate with tree roots, where they find their food, but also with small herbs growing under these trees that help their growth. They rely on animals for dispersion of their spores that disseminate the fungus, including humans, and we now discover that slugs (and possibly other invertebrates) may even have a broader role in dissemination than rodents and wild boars… Finally, truffles also interact between themselves: two underground individuals interact together to form the edible truffle body. One (the mother) is connected to surrounding trees and feeds the truffle body, filled of spores. The other one, only giving genes to the spores, is currently absent from the environment… and scientists fight to know where the father is. I hardly can write here the solution we found to this problem! Come to listen to the strange family story we discovered…
Professor of Forest Ecology and Leader of The Mother Tree Project at the University of British Columbia.
Mother trees and mycorrhizal networks.
Adaptability in forest practices can help us keep pace with the pressures climate change are placing on regeneration, biodiversity and carbon storage in the future. This will require a paradigm shift in how we view and treat forest ecosystems, from commodities to exploit through clearcutting to life support systems that we care for. Retention of old trees while harvesting protects the belowground fungal networks that connect the forest and facilitates forest recovery, and can replace the standard practice of clearcutting. In the Mother Tree project, we are applying basic research on mycorrhizal networks to examine how retention of old trees in different patterns and density, as well of migration of tree genotypes to keep pace with the velocity of climate change, interact with climate to affect seedling regeneration, mycorrhizal fungal networks, carbon storage, plant species diversity, and tree productivity across a 900 km gradient of Douglas fir forests. Early effects on forest recovery will be discussed regarding potential application of partial cutting as a strategy to cope with climate change in the forests of western Canada.
Director of the Vivekananda Institute of Tropical Mycology (VINSTROM) RKM Vidyapith, Chennai, India.
Mangroves and their fungi.
Mangroves are unique in their biodiversity and are highly productive; they provide many valuable ecosystem services including nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, bioremediation of waste and contribution to food security. They afford protection against shoreline erosion and natural calamities like floods and tsunamis. As a blue carbon reservoir, the mangroves account for 10 to 15% of global carbon storage. Like other plants, mangroves are also associated with different microbes including fungi. The lecture will highlight the need to know about the types these fungi and their contributions to the development, performance and stability of mangroves – an essential step in restoring the lost mangrove covers and to protect the existing ones.
Michael J. Wingfield
Professor at the University of Pretoria.
The biology and beauty of unusual arthropod-associated fungi inhabiting ancient flowers at the tip of Africa.
The Ophiostomatoid fungi are amongst the most fascinating of all insect-associated fungi. Most of these fungi are vectored by bark beetles and were first discovered causing 'blue-stain' in conifer timber in 1907. They include species in the well-known genera Ceratocystis and Ophiostoma and famously, the causal agents of important plant diseases such as Dutch elm disease. By pure chance, in the early 1980’s, Ophiostomatoid fungi were discovered in the floral structures (infructescences) of Protea species growing in the southern tip of Africa. These iconic plants are native to the Cape Floral Region, the smallest yet relatively most biodiverse of the world’s six Floral Kingdom, sometimes described as the “hottest” of all biodiversity hotspots. This talk will focus on the discovery of the Ophiostomatoid fungi in Protea infructescences and the many studies, often as hobby projects, which have considered their taxonomy, ecology and sheer beauty.