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OMS General Meeting, Burn morels and golden oysters, Todd Osmundson, 2019-06-10
June 10 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
7:15 pm OMS General Meeting
7:30 pm Program. Todd Osmundson. Burn morels and golden oysters: exploring the biology of two edible mushrooms through genomes and collaboration. Fungi are masters of disguise. Since much of their life is spent underground, many aspects of their biology are difficult to discern, including where they are, with whom they associate, and even what constitutes a distinct individual. Even when they emerge to reproduce, their identities are often concealed by characteristics that vary within and between individuals due to age and environment, and can overlap between different species. Understanding their biology requires amassing large amounts of data, but in two very different spatial directions: scaling up geographically in order to understand species diversity, distributions, and rarity, and scaling down to the nucleotide level to understand relatedness, evolution, and ecology. Recent projects in Todd’s lab have focused on two edible mushrooms with very different biology: burn morels are North American native species that produce large numbers of sporocarps in the year following a forest fire, and golden oyster mushrooms are a non-native cultivated species that appears to be invading rapidly into natural habitats. In this presentation, Todd will discuss how he is using genomic approaches similar to those used for human ancestry prediction (by Ancestry.com, 23 and Me, etc.) to understand why burn morels produce such large flushes of mushrooms and how the golden oyster is spreading, and how collaboration with a network of collectors and students is essential to these studies. Todd will also discuss the rich history of contributions to mycology by non-academics, and discuss the power and challenges of scaling up based on experience with the early stages of the North American Mycoflora Project.
Speaker info: Todd Osmundson is a member of the biology faculty at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse who studies fungal diversity using field and laboratory approaches. Some of the topics currently studied in his lab include fungal diversity of the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, genomic features of fire-associated morel mushrooms, tracking the invasion history of the golden oyster mushroom, taxonomy/classification of Tylopilus and other boletes, and using DNA sequencing to understand mushroom diversity in the Driftless Region. His lab is one of three labs conducting DNA sequencing for the initial phase of the North American Mycoflora Project. Prior to coming to UW-L, Todd earned a Masters degree studying alpine Laccaria with Dr. Cathy Cripps at Montana State University and a Ph.D. studying bolete taxonomy and evolution with Dr. Roy Halling at Columbia University / New York Botanical Garden, and worked on fungal diversity and forest pathology as a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Matteo Garbelotto at the University of California – Berkeley.