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
  • 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
  • Lankau Lab - Ecology and evolution of plant and fungal communities
  • Lewis Lab - Chromatin Structure and Function in Neurospora crassa
  • 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


gnomesGnomes fall prey to fungal infection! Recent research from the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections shows garden gnomes around the UK have suddenly and mysteriously become infected by fungal disease and are dropping like flies. Normally shy and reticent, these generally resilient, stony-faced characters have been sighted in gardens all over the UK with pained expressions carved into their little features. GAFFI warns that a deadly fungus which lurks in compost heaps and flourishes in damp conditions could wipe out this entire endangered species by 2020 unless governments act to stem the tide of destruction. For more information watch this video, and find out how to help at GAFFI.org.



drugsAnti-fungal medication may be used to treat cancer Speaking of itraconazole, early results of clinical trials indicate the drug (which is commonly used to treat a variety of foot and skin fungal infections) may help to reduce tumor size and spread in patients with basal cell carcinoma, when taken orally. These findings might provide a significantly cost-effective change in prescribed treatment, and may even reduce the necessity of other, more invasive treatment approaches such as surgical excision or radiation. Read more at Standford Medicine's Scope.



cryptoAnti-cancer medication may be used to treat fungal infection Tamoxifen, usually prescribed to treat early-stage, less-aggressive breast cancer in premenopausal women, appears to kill Cryptococcus, which causes fungal meningitis and pneumonia in immune-compromised patients. It appears the drug interferes with calmodulin, resulting in an inviable germ. These early results may lead to the first significant change in treatment of cryptococccal diseases in 50 years. Read more at Infection Control Today.




Recent Publications

ME An exotic invader drives the evolution of plant traits that determine mycorrhizal fungal diversity in a native competitor.
Molecular Ecology, November 2013
Lankau Lab
PP Temperature Regulates the Initiation of Chasmothecia in Powdery Mildew of Strawberry.
Phytopathology, July 2013
Brewer Lab