What is Fungal Biology?

Fungi range from microscopic, single-celled yeasts to vast underground mycelial colonies covering hundreds of acres. They are heterotrophs that play major roles in recycling environmental carbon, cause diseases of plants and animals, and make many industrial products. Because they are more closely related to animals than to plants and because their biology and genetics are easily manipulated, fungi are great models organisms. With 17 labs dedicated to the study of yeasts and filamentous fungi, the University of Georgia is an international hot spot for fungal biology. Fungal researchers at UGA study ecologically diverse organisms to investigate topics ranging from plant pathology to population genetics to developmental biology. The combination of courses focused on fungi and related research methodologies provides a strong curriculum for graduate students and a productive training environment for postdocs interested in the fungi.


Who Researches Fungal Biology?

Fungal Biology Group Photo

  • Arnold Lab - Fungal genomes, systems biology of clocks
  • Bensasson Lab - Genome bioinformatics, ecological and evolutionary genomics of yeast
  • Brewer Lab - Evolution and genetics of plant pathogenic fungi
  • Covert Lab - Molecular genetics of plant-fungal interactions, Fusarium circinatum, Cronartium quercuum f.sp. fusiforme and Ustilago maydis
  • Garfinkel Lab - Retrotransposition in yeast
  • Glenn Lab - Endophytic fungi and their interactions with hosts, Fusarium verticilliodes, Neotyphodium coenophialum
  • Glover Lab - Role and mechanism of Casein Kinase II, Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Gold Lab - Molecular biology of plant-fungal pathogen interactions, Ustilago maydis
  • Hall Lab - Mathematical models of evolution and experimental evolution in yeast
  • Khang Lab - Cellular and molecular biology of plant-fungal interactions, fungal effectors and nutrient uptake, rice and Magnaporthe oryzae
  • Lewis Lab - Chromatin Structure and Function in Neurospora crassa
  • Kozubowski Lab (Clemson University) - Cell/developmental biology and microbial pathogenesis of Cryptococcus neoformans
  • McEachern Lab - Telomeres in yeast
  • Momany Lab - Polarity, cell wall and cell cycle in Aspergillus nidulans and A. fumigatus
  • Scherm Lab - Diseases of fruit crops
  • Schmidt Lab - Biosynthesis of isoprenylated signaling molecules in S. cerevisiae
  • Shefferson Lab - Evolutionary history of mycorrhizae and other plant-microbe interactions
  • Starai Lab - Membrane fusion in yeast


Fungi in the News


frogs Cure for bats' white-nose syndrome may be found in bacteria A seasonal fungal disease has been decimating bat populations throughout the eastern states. The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which naturally lines the damp walls of caves infects and infiltrates the noses, mouthparts and wings of bats hibernating over winter. Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have found bacteria (Pseudomonas spp.) which inhibits the spores of P. destructans in live culture, and have applied the bacteria to bats' skin in the lab. Data from the in vitro trial was published in PLOS ONE. Official publication of analyzed results is pending.


moose Snakes may have a similar fungal syndrome While studying timber rattlesnake movement patterns and habitat use in Vermont, researchers discovered snakes covered in lesions, particularly around their faces. Called snake fungal disease, it's showing up with increasing frequency in snakes around the eastern and midwestern United States. Conservationists fear it could pose a similar threat to snakes as white-nose syndrome in bats. Read more at The Nature Conservancy.




moose The spores that won the war go to auction A specimen thought to be part of the original Penicillium fungus which produces penicillin is expected to sell for up to £6,000 at auction (~US$9400). The sample, mounted on paper, is signed on the back by the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Sir Alexander Fleming, and dated 1955. Fleming gave the mold to neighbors living across the road from him after they had frightened away burglars who had been attempting to break into the scientist's London home. This specimen and other artifacts go to auction July 8th in the UK. Read more at The Daily Mail.






Recent Publications

ME Evolutionary history and variation in host range of three Stagonosporopsis species causing gummy stem blight of cucurbits
Fungal Biology, May 2015
Brewer Lab
PP Heterochromatin Controls γH2A Localization in Neurospora crassa
Eukaryotic Cell, August 2014
Lewis Lab