Westerdijk Institute 2020 Spring Symposium
Symposium "Rise of the Fungi"
Changing climate patterns have severe
impact on quality of life. Global change also affects fungal ecology and
pathology, with new diseases emerging of plants, humans and animals. To
highlight the importance of human, animal and plant health in a global perspective,
a special symposium with leading scientists is planned to address how global
and climate change impact on fungi, specifically those involved with plant and
human diseases, as well as food and forest security. Special sessions address
plant health and climate change, food security, human health, fungal
applications in industry, fungal ecology and genomics. This meeting also
addresses new developments on fungal taxonomy, such as the inclusion of Digital
Sequence Information (DSI) under the Nagoya Protocol, and the naming of
environmental sequences (dark taxa). Furthermore, to create more public
awareness and engagement for these new challenges, a special public engagement
meeting on fungal catastrophes has been organized, which precedes the Rise
of the Fungi symposium.
Venue: Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Uppsalalaan 8, 3584CT Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Registration: € 180.- Registration includes coffee/tea breaks and lunches.
It also includes drinks and dinner following the Elevator poster pitches on 23 April
Toby Kiers, keynote speaker in session 6 “Fungal
evolution and ecology”. Title: Underground
fungal trade markets in nature
VU professor (Vrije
Universiteit Amsterdam) Toby Kiers will be one of the keynote speakers at the
Westerdijk Institute 2020 Spring Symposium “Rise of the Fungi”. Toby
Kiers investigates how cooperation between species evolves and
persists. Her recent work focuses on resource trading between plants and
fungi and how complex ‘biological markets’ dominate the underground. She
is interested in when and why organisms defect from cooperation, and
how cheating strategies emerge in nature. More information: tobykiers.com
Francis Martin, keynote speaker in session 7 “Fungal
genomes and taxonomy”. Title: Unearthing
the evolution of nutrition modes in forest mushrooms.
Francis Martin, Distinguished Research Director at the French
National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Head of the Cluster of
excellence ARBRE and Distinguished Professor at the Beijing Forestry
University, China, will be one of the keynote speakers at the Westerdijk
Institute 2020 Spring Symposium ‘Rise of the Fungi’. His research focuses on
understanding how fungi drive forest ecosystems through their roles in
important soil processes including decomposition and nutrient turnover as well
as carbon sequestration. As a general overarching goal he mentions:
‘determining whether the lifestyle of a plant-interacting fungal species can be
predicted from the patterns exhibited in its genome’.
In his talk at ‘Rise of the Fungi’ Martin will address
mutualistic symbioses between certain trees and ectomycorrhizal fungi. He will
highlight recent large scale genomic studies that have revealed the convergent
evolution of ectomycorrhizal fungi, which led for example to the loss of the
lignocellulose decay apparatus and the acquisition of mycorrhiza-induced small
secreted proteins that facilitate interactions with plant hosts. You win some,
you lose some seems to be the pattern. These adaptations suggest that
ectomycorrhizal symbiosis provides a useful model to study the evolution of
nutritional modes in fungi with.
Public evening "Fungal Catastrophes"
Venue: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie der Wetenschappen / Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, Tinbergen zaal, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Time : 18.30 – 21.30
Language : English
Registration : Compulsory. Number of seats available : 175. Free access
“We are losing
biodiversity on a massive scale due to emerging fungal infections”, Professor
Matthew Fisher states. He is one of three speakers at the public evening
‘Fungal Catastrophes’ taking place at the opening of a three days international
mycological symposium ‘Rise of the Fungi’. The public evening coincides with
the 50th International Earth Day focusing on the protection of our
The speakers at this public event with the dark title ‘Fungal
Catastrophes’ will talk about fungal threats and possible solutions. Amphibians
are under severe threat by fungal diseases caused by human intervention. White-nose
syndrome, affecting bats, is ‘burning across North America’, and at a global
scale also plants, trees and crops perish due to fungal infections. The number
of fungal infections in humans is rising too, together with the worrisome
emergence of antifungal resistance.
The massive death in amphibians is mainly caused by humans
dispersing fungi and by fungal resistance against fungicides. An additional
factor is the scarcity of effective fungicides that can be safely used and,
related to that, the widespread use of antifungals in agriculture and industry.
Furthermore, fungi and humans are more related than one would think, which
often hinders the development of new antifungal drugs.
Atlas of Clinical Fungi
Foliar pathogens of eucalypts
A new, completely
revised, full-color version of the Atlas of Clinical Fungi, the
world’s most famous handbook on fungi of medical and veterinary relevance, is
now being edited for hard copy.
Authors: P.W. Crous, M.J. Wingfield, R. Cheewangkoon, A.J.
Carnegie, T. Burgess, B.A. Summerell, J. Edwards, P.W.J. Taylor, and
Details: softcover, 261 pp, full colour
NEW - Lab Manual 1 & 2 at APS
Our lab manuals are now also
available through the American PhytopathologicalSociety via the APS bookstore . And of course, you can also still buy your copy of the book in the
Westerdijk Institute web shop
Westerdijk Laboratory Manual Series 1: Fungal Biodiversity
Westerdijk Laboratory Manual Series 2: Food and Indoor Fungi –
Crous, G.J.M. Verkleij, J.Z. Groenewald, and J. Houbraken
Details: hardcover, bound, 425 pp, full colour
Samson, J. Houbraken, U. Thrane, J.C. Frisvad, and B. Andersen
Details: hardcover, bound, 481 pp, full colour
Course Food & Indoor
fungi 2019 – in retrospect
Ann Dorte Pörneki, owner of the
Danish company House Test ApS was one of the participants of the course “Food
and Indoor Fungi” taught in October by Jos Houbraken and his group. Her company
tests air if there is a suspicion of molds. She never cultures the molds, she
looks at their DNA. In this course she is actually sitting behind the
microscope looking at the real stuff. “I was used to looking at mammal cells,
but these growing fungi, they are so beautiful. Sometimes I only sit and enjoy
Course Fungal Biodiversity 2020 – looking forward
Venue: Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Utrecht, Uppsalalaan 8, The Netherlands.
Price: € 1700,-
This yearly course has
now been transformed into a 1-week course. The course provides a concise
overview of the biodiversity of organisms representing the Kingdom Fungi. The
course focuses on systematics and general ecology of fungi, as well as related
topics such as soil mycology and diagnostics of plant pathogens. Both visual
and molecular recognition methods will be discussed and practical hands-on
experience will be gained in the morphological recognition and cultivation of
fungi. The course is intended for (micro)biology students, PhD students,
technicians and scientists/students who would like to obtain a fundamental
understanding of fungi. The course uses the new Laboratory Manual 1: Fungal
Biodiversity by Crous et al.
student in the Yeast Research group of Teun Boekhout, will defend his thesis “Development
of Fungal Identification Tools and Evaluation of Microbiological and Clinical
Profiles of Candida Species from
Iran” on 9 December @11.00am at the Singelkerk, Singel 452, 1017 AW Amsterdam,
How to build a huge Penicillium
A huge Penicillium eyecatcher grows on the
stairs of the Westerdijk Institute. The Institute thanks the University Museum
Utrecht for donating their Penicillium artwork that “grew” out of their building in the past two years. The object was
installed two weeks ago.
Westerdijk in the news
On 24 October 2019
(NPO3) the Westerdijk Institute featured in an episode of the
critical consumer television program
"Keuringsdienst van Waarde" about kefir. Teun Boekhout analysed
supermarket kefir, with some surprising results.
Citizen Science project “Fungi for Future” goes International!
The DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB) outreach
team of the Forestry & Agricultural Biotechnology
Institute (FABI) in South
Africa, is an active new partner in the ‘Fungi
for the Future’ initiative which forms part of their citizen science
project. This initiative was first launched by the Westerdijk Fungal
Biodiversity Institute (WI) and the University Museum Utrecht in the
Netherlands, but has now gone international. The project kicked off in South Africa last week, with
Prof. Kupe, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria (right), pictured
here together with FABI postdoc Neriman Yilmaz Visagie (left), collecting the
first soil sample on the Future Africa campus in Pretoria. https://www.fabinet.up.ac.za/index.php/news-item?id=913. Several sampling kits have also been distributed to
schools in the region. Students will collect soil samples from their home
gardens, which will be processed at FABI (University of Pretoria), in
collaboration with the Westerdijk Institute in the Netherlands. New species
will be named after the various collectors or schools, while the fungi
themselves will also be incorporated into diverse research projects running at
the University of Pretoria.
Read more about the Fungi for Future
School Outreach launch: https://www.fabinet.up.ac.za/index.php/news-item?id=908
Fungal Natural Products - Collemare Group
European Fungal Secondary Metabolism
Collemare was one of the three organisers of the European Fungal Secondary Metabolism symposium which took place in
Hannover, Germany on September 30th and October 1st. The
other two organisers being Prof. Soizic Prado from the Muséum National
d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, and Prof. Russell Cox from Leibniz University of
Hannover. The symposium was a success; the outlines of new collaborations were already
taking shape during the meeting.
Yeast - Boekhout Group
trends in molecular diagnostics of yeast infections: from PCR to NGS.
OPATHY, Gabaldón T
Microbiology Reviews 43(5): 517-547.
incidence of opportunistic yeast infections in humans has been increasing over
recent years. These infections are difficult to treat and diagnose, in part due
to the large number and broad diversity of species that can underlie the
infection. In addition, resistance to one or several antifungal drugs in
infecting strains is increasingly being reported, severely limiting therapeutic
options and showcasing the need for rapid detection of the infecting agent and
its drug susceptibility profile. Current methods for species and resistance
identification lack satisfactory sensitivity and specificity, and often require
prior culturing of the infecting agent, which delays diagnosis. Recently
developed high-throughput technologies such as next generation sequencing or
proteomics are opening completely new avenues for more sensitive, accurate and
fast diagnosis of yeast pathogens. These approaches are the focus of intensive
research, but translation into the clinics requires overcoming important
challenges. In this review, we provide an overview of existing and recently
emerged approaches that can be used in the identification of yeast pathogens
and their drug resistance profiles. Throughout the text we highlight the
advantages and disadvantages of each methodology and discuss the most promising
developments in their path from bench to bedside.
Applied and Industrial Mycology - Houbraken group
The most heat-resistant conidia observed to date are formed by distinct strains
of Paecilomyces variotii
Authors: van den Brule T et
colonize habitats by means of spores. These cells are stress-resistant compared
with growing fungal cells. Fungal conidia, asexual spores, formed by cosmopolitan
fungal genera like Penicillium, Aspergillus and Paecilomyces are dispersed by air. They are present in places where
food products are stored and as a result, they cause food spoilage. Here, we determined
the heterogeneity of heat resistance of conidia between and within strains of Paecilomyces variotii, a spoiler of
foods such as margarine, fruit juices, canned fruits and non-carbonized sodas.
Out of 108 strains, 31 isolates showed a conidial survival >10% after a
10-min-heat treatment at 59°C. Three strains with different
conidial heat resistance were selected for further phenotyping. Conidia of DTO
212-C5 and DTO 032-I3 showed 0.3% and 2.6% survival in the screening
respectively, while survival of DTO 217-A2 conidia was >10%. The decimal
reduction times of these strains at 60°C (D60 value) were 3.7 ±0.08,
5.5 ±0.35 and 22.9 ±2.00 min respectively. Further
in-depth analysis revealed that the three strains showed differences in morphology,
spore size distributions, compatible solute compositions and growth under salt
stress. Conidia of DTO 217-A2 are the most heat-resistant reported so far. The
ecological consequences of this heterogeneity of resistance, including food
spoilage, are discussed.
Fungal Physiology - de Vries Group
acid and sorbic acid conversion are mediated by the same transcriptional
regulator in Aspergillus niger
Authors: Lubbers RJM et al.
Journal: Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 7: 149.
Abstract: Cinnamic acid is
an aromatic compound commonly found in plants and functions as a central
intermediate in lignin synthesis. Filamentous fungi are able to degrade
cinnamic acid through multiple metabolic pathways. One of the best studied
pathways is the non-oxidative decarboxylation of cinnamic acid to styrene. In Aspergillus niger, the enzymes
cinnamic acid decarboxylase (CdcA, formally ferulic acid decarboxylase) and the
flavin prenyltransferase (PadA) catalyze together the non-oxidative
decarboxylation of cinnamic acid and sorbic acid. The corresponding genes, cdcA and padA, are clustered in
the genome together with a putative transcription factor previously named
sorbic acid decarboxylase regulator (SdrA). While SdrA was predicted to be
involved in the regulation of the non-oxidative decarboxylation of cinnamic
acid and sorbic acid, this was never functionally analyzed. In this study, A. niger deletion mutants of sdrA, cdcA, and padA were made to further investigate the
role of SdrA in cinnamic acid metabolism. Phenotypic analysis revealed that cdcA, sdrA and padA are exclusively involved in the
degradation of cinnamic acid and sorbic acid and not required for other related
aromatic compounds. Whole genome transcriptome analysis of sdrA grown on different cinnamic acid
related compounds, revealed additional target genes, which were also clustered
with cdcA, sdrA, and padA in the A. niger genome. Synteny analysis using 30 Aspergillus genomes demonstrated a conserved
cinnamic acid decarboxylation gene cluster in most Aspergilli of the Nigri
clade. Aspergilli lacking certain genes in the cluster were unable to grow on
cinnamic acid, but could still grow on related aromatic compounds, confirming
the specific role of these three genes for cinnamic acid metabolism of A. niger.
Phytopathology - Crous Group
Article: Back to the roots: a reappraisal of Neocosmospora
Authors: Sandoval-Denis M et al.
Abstract: There are several fusarium-like
genera in the Nectriaceae.
Just because a conidium has a foot cell, does not by default mean it's a
species of Fusarium s.str., and researchers will
have to consult the DNA phylogeny, morphology of the sexual morph, or
conidiophore morphology to determine to which genus their isolates belong.
These facts and implications are presented in the monograph of Neocosmospora by Sandoval-Denis and co-workers.
The genus Neocosmospora (Fusarium solani species complex) contains saprobes,
plant endophytes and pathogens of major economic signiﬁcance as well as
opportunistic animal pathogens. Advances in biological and phylogenetic species
recognition revealed a rich species diversity which has largely remained
understudied. Most of the currently recognised species lack formal descriptions
and Latin names, while the taxonomic utility of old names is hampered by the
lack of nomenclatural type specimens. Therefore, to stabilise the taxonomy and
nomenclature of these important taxa, we examined type specimens and
representative cultures of several old names by means of morphology and
phylogenetic analyses based on rDNA (ITS and LSU), rpb2 and tef1 sequences.
Sixty-eight species are accepted in Neocosmospora,
29 of them described herein as new; while 13 new combinations are made. Eleven
additional phylogenetic species are recognized, but remain as yet undescribed.
Lectotypes are proposed for eight species, seven species are epitypiﬁed and two
species are neotypiﬁed. Notes on an additional 17 doubtful or excluded taxa are
Medical Mycology - Hagen Group
The research group Medical Mycology has implemented the use of
long-read nanopore sequencing which paves the way for applications like
comparative genomics in outbreak settings and de novo genome assemblies for
clinically relevant fungal species for which no (high quality) genome is
available. This has resulted in the publication of the high-quality complete
genome sequence of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida vulturna,
recently accepted for publication in Mycopathologia (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11046-019-00404-0). As next generation sequencing is becoming the standard in
medical mycology we actively participate in hands-on training, like the Data
Carpentry Genomics workshop in Utrecht (November 25th & 26th,
2019). For this training only few places are available via this link (https://www.knvm.org/events/6457-calendar/28970-data-carpentry-genomics-workshop).
Fungal Collection - Verkleij Group
On November 1st 2019, the CBS Collection acquired its
fifth 3-year IS0 certificate for its ISO 9001:2015 quality management system.
The scope of the certificate includes the accession, preservation, storage and
supply of microbial cultures and related information, and includes the public
CBS and NCCB Collections and the secured collections for Budapest Treaty
deposits and safe deposits. Staff of the CBS Collection department has
succeeded in maintaining high quality standards and continuously improve its
performance, with the invaluable support from the service departments of the
Westerdijk Institute and Hubrecht Institute. In the photo the CBS Collection
team proudly shows the new certificate.
Bioinformatics, Software Developments and Databasing - Robert Group
A paper recently published in mBio by Arturo Casadevall, Dimitrios P Kontoyiannis, Vincent Robert and entitled "on the emergence of Candida auris: climate change, azoles, swamps and birds" has recently caught the attention of news media worldwide during the last few days with articles in the Washington post, Time, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Daily Mail, and other journals as well as on TV networks like CNN, NBC, CBS, 9NEWS or RT. The authors have also been interviewed on several radios in the BNR in the Netherlands and CBC in Canada. Here are short movies or TV programs illustrating the problem and a poem was even written by a British researcher. More news here and or here.