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Plant and Microbial Biology Seminar: Taylor-White Lecture: Genetics of fungal colonization associated with global exotic forestry: insights from pines and their symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi

December 2, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Rytas Vilgalys, Professor of Biology, Duke University
Vilgalys is a pioneer in the use of DNA to study evolution and ecology of fungi. His publications are listed here. His recent research is focused on the obligately symbiotic, ectomycorrhizal association of the mushroom, Suillus, with Pine and the fungal endophyte system of Poplar. His recent publications also address questions concerning the effect of climate change on pine and spruce forests in North America; how fungal endophytes alter host tree phenotype, gene expression, and interactions with the root microbiome; and how microfluidics and metabolomics can be used to study fungal-bacterial interactions.
Vilgalys’ current, translational research addresses questions about the effect on benthic microbes of alkaline coal mine drainages, how ecotmycorrhizae affect the alkaloid profile of roots of their pine symbionts, how ectomycorrhizal fungi affect invasions of pines from plantations to native vegetation in exotic locations, and how fungal communities correlate with the level of recovery at mine sites in the Southeastern USA.
Vilgalys has made major, seminal contributions to our understanding of fungal systematics and the molecular evolution of fungi that underpins the taxonomy. His research has had a particularly strong impact both at the kingdom level and in the order embracing mushrooms, the Agaricales. Vilgalys has also made fundamental contributions to the use of DNA metabarcoding to characterize fungal communities. Recently, in collaboration with mycologists at Berkeley and Stanford, he has used the approach to show that fungal communities associated with pine show taxonomic variation but functional similarity throughout North America.
Vilgalys has also applied these approaches to fungi that cause human disease, including Cryptococcus spp., which account for tragic levels of mortality among African AIDS patients, and the fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, that is extirpating amphibians, world-wide.


December 2, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Remote via Zoom