lectures Archives

Jacob Kalichman – Mushroom Forms, or: Macromacromorphology – Friday June 10, 2022 at 07:00 PM Eastern Time

Jacob Pulk

Jacob Kalichman

Typical lists of mushroom forms (agaric, bolete, polypore, crust…) are familiar and useful, but we don’t often give the forms themselves much attention. This presentation will be a casual attempt to add some precision and thoroughness to how we think about the forms, relating them to each other and giving extra attention to the in-betweens – mostly with pictures.

Jacob Kalichman has been practicing identifying gilled mushrooms by sight since 2010, especially in California and Tennessee, focusing on little-known and difficult-to-distinguish genera. He is fascinated by the evolutionary relationships among mushrooms and keeps track of the genus-level taxonomy of the gilled ones and their relatives at www.agaric.us. He wrote the species text for the forthcoming Audubon guide and is currently a field mycologist collecting for the Matheny Lab at the University of Tennessee, with an extra focus on Inocybaceae (fibercaps).

The lecture will take place Friday June 10, 2022 at 07:00 PM Eastern Time

Henry Beker – The Hebeloma project: database to website and development of an AI species identifier – Sunday, June 12, 2022 at 2PM (Eastern Time)

Henry Beker

Henry Beker

The Hebeloma project has been evolving for over 20 years. The database that started in 2003 now has over 10,000 collections, from around the world, with not only metadata but also morphological descriptions and photographs, both macroscopic and microscopic, as well as molecular data including at least an ITS sequence. Included within this set of collections are almost all types worldwide.
The next phase has been to develop a website, which updates as the database updates. This website, which will be launched on 1 July 2022, includes up-to-date species descriptions for all published species, worldwide, that are recognized as ‘current’. The descriptions reflect the collections of each species on the database. It also has a number of tools available to the user. For example a user may explore those species with similar habitat preferences, or those from a particular biogeographic area. A user is also able to compare a range of characters of different species. A key part of the website is the species identifier tool. The user inputs a small number of characters and the tool promptly returns the most likely species represented, ranked by probability. We will present the machine-learning techniques behind the tool, and the results it has had in testing to date.

Henry J. Beker is a professor and Honorary Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. He started life as a mathematician and became involved in informatics and information security. His career has spanned various executive and director roles within major electronics companies; Chairman and Chief Executive of a major publicly listed company in both Europe and the United States; advising the American National Standards Institute on security banking standards; Presidency of the Institute of Mathematics in the UK; authoring several books including Cipher Systems (1982), one of the first books to be published on the subject of protection of communications; helping steer a number of growing companies to trade sale or floatation; and founding the charity: e-Learning Foundation.

In the early 1990s Henry became interested in mycology. In 2000 he met Jan Vesterholt and they formed a partnership working on the genus Hebeloma. Since 2005 his mycological research has been focused solely on Hebeloma and in 2016 (with Ursula Eberhardt) Fungi Europaei 14 was published, a monograph on Hebeloma in Europe. Since then the team have been working on Hebeloma worldwide and are in the process of publishing a series of papers on the Hebeloma of North America. Henry has also served on the council of the British Mycological Society and is currently a Scientific Collaborator with Botanic Garden, Meise.

The lecture will take place Sunday, June 12, 2022 at 2PM (Eastern Time)

Sarah DeLong-Duhon – Rediscovering Common Species Using Molecular Biology: Stereum ostrea and Its Forgotten Cousins – Friday June 17, 2022, 7:00pm (Eastern Time)

Sarah DeLong Duhon

Sarah DeLong Duhon

Mushrooms that look similar are not always the same species, as evidenced by an abundance of DNA studies on genera like Cantharellus, Trametes, Armillaria, and Morchella. The genus Stereum is a wood-decay fungus abundant across the globe, with many species endemic to certain regions or specific to particular host trees. In the 50s, several species of Stereum were combined under the name S. ostrea due to their morphological similarity, but DNA barcoding clearly shows these species to be phylogenetically distinct. DNA analysis and literature review shows S. ostrea is an East Asian species, while S. fasciatum and S. lobatum appear endemic to the Americas and S. subtomentosum is found in Northern temperate regions. Morphological analysis shows that yellow staining and cap hair texture is key for differentiating these species in North America.

Sarah DeLong-Duhon is a Master’s graduate from the University of Iowa, Vice President of the Prairie States Mushroom Club, and Founder of the Iowa Fungal Biodiversity Project. Her research focus is the phylogeny of Stereum, a globally common genus of wood-decay fungi. She is experienced in the field and the lab, extracting, sequencing and analyzing fungal DNA to help unravel the mysteries of fungal biodiversity and evolution.

The lecture will take place on Friday June 17, 2022, 7:00pm (Eastern Time)

Danny Newman – Richer Than Gold: Fungal Biodiversity in a Threatened Andean Cloud Forest Reserve – Sunday May 15, 7pm

There is a somber motto that hangs over the chronically underfunded world of 21st century taxonomic research: “find it before it goes extinct.” Kingdom Fungi currently contains some 130,000 known, named species, but between two and five million more are estimated to exist. To be among the 150-200 species which disappear each day on this planet is a privilege which most fungi do not enjoy, not because they aren’t disappearing, but because their existence was never known in the first place. Like so many trees falling with no one around to hear them, they are silently, imperceptibly struck from the long list of living things for which we have no human name. This is truer nowhere more so than tropical rainforests.

In one of the last unlogged watersheds on the western slopes of the Andes lies Ecuador’s Reserva Los Cedros, a 17,000-acre paradise of primary cloud forest.  Home to over 300 species of trees, 400 species of orchids, 300 species of birds, and over 900 species of moths, Los Cedros is a pristine example of the incredible biodiversity for which Ecuador is well known.  However, the extent of the reserve’s fungal diversity — like much of the Andean-Amazonian region — is still largely unknown.  Since 2008, an international team of mycologists have been documenting the fungi of Los Cedros, both to add them to the catalog of life on Earth, and to help protect them from the ever-present threats of mining and deforestation.

Danny Newman is an independent parataxonomist and photographer primarily interested in the systematics of Andean-Amazonian fungi.  In a mycological career spanning two decades, 14 countries and four continents, Newman has been a teacher, student, intern, research assistant, grant recipient, author, identifier and librarian.  He currently resides in Southern Appalachia in the rainy shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains.


An introduction to DNA sequencing – a talk by Sigrid Jakob Friday, May 13, 7pm

The talk
DNA sequencing has become an integral part of modern mycology. It’s not only helping with the classification of fungi but has revolutionized our understanding of the fungal tree of life. This talks will take us through the many uses (and abuses) of DNA sequencing, explain how DNA sequencing works, what it takes to set up a lab and how to integrate molecular methods with the documenting and collecting clubs are already doing. She’ll also showcase some of the more interesting discoveries from her and the club’s collecting that DNA sequencing has helped uncover.

Sigrid Jakob is a community scientist based in Brooklyn, New York. She currently serves as the president of the New York Mycological Society and as board member of the Fungal Diversity Survey (FunDiS), where she’s also active as a sequence validator. She co-founded the FunDiS Rare 20 conservation challenge as well as a fungi-focused community program for Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, a first for a public green space in the US. Sigrid has been extracting fungal DNA in her home lab since 2019 and has led many workshops in DNA sequencing. Her favorite fungi are Inocybe and fungi growing on dung.

Lecture details

I look forward to seeing you on the 13th!

Cathie Aime – Illuminating the Dark Fungi – Friday, May 6th, 7pm (Eastern time)

M.C. Aime

Cathie Aime

Conservative estimates put the number of extant fungal species at 1.5 – 5.1 million, of which < 10% have been described. One of the many questions that has been generated from these estimates is where are the “missing”, or dark, fungi. The majority of fungal data, including species estimates, are based on studies of macrofungal diversity in temperate regions. The main focus of work in my lab is to discover and characterize biodiversity (species, genetic, and functional) of fungi from un- and underexplored habitats and lineages—especially the early diverging microfungi of the Basidiomycota from tropical regions. We combine exploratory field research with traditional and modern tools (ranging from physiological profiling to comparative genomics) to accomplish this. This has included, for example, the establishment of two long-term (20+ years) field studies in remote regions of the Guiana Shield and the Congo River Basin; development of tools for utilizing herbarium specimens for phylogenomic studies and for working with fastidious microfungi; and providing the first available genomic resources for nine classes of fungi. Results of this work have improved understanding at all levels of fungal biodiversity including the discovery and description of new higher rank lineages; discovery of new niches and ecological roles; and characterization of specific adaptive traits that appear to have driven success, in terms of species richness of lineages, and in terms of epidemic potential in phytopathogens. Finally, we have shown that the most widely used culture-dependent and culture-independent methods may fail to detect some fungal lineages, which will require development of novel approaches before illumination of global diversity in toto is achieved.

Cathie Aime is Professor of Mycology at Purdue University and Director of the Purdue Herbaria. Her lab conducts research on the systematics, biodiversity, and evolution of Fungi focusing on: 1) the earliest diverging lineages of Basidiomycota (Pucciniomycotina, Ustilaginomycotina, and Wallemiomycetes); 2) rust fungi; 3) fungi in tropical ecosystems; and 4) fungal diseases of tropical tree crops. Dr. Aime has won numerous awards including the departmental awards for Outstanding Graduate Advisor/Mentor and for Outstanding Teacher, as well as having been a Favorite Faculty Nominee. On the research side, she’s won The GMA Food Safety Award from the International Association for Food Protection, and is a Fellow of the Mycological Society of America and the Linnean Society of London. Her publications are too numerous to list (or count).

The lecture takes place Friday, May 6th, 7pm (Eastern time)

Marielle Anzelone – Wildflowers of New York City – Wednesday May 4, 2022 at 7PM (Eastern time)

Marielle Anzelone

Marielle Anzelone

New York City is filled with wild flora – majestic trees, rare wildflowers, wetland grasses – that are critical to the ecological function of the City’s ecosystems. Learn about our indigenous plants and why local ecotypes are important. Explore our urban forests, marshes and meadows that house these species and threats to these habitats. We’ll also discuss what you as an individual can do, including how to go native in the garden and why preserving biodiversity in New York City matters to the health and future of the planet.

Marielle Anzelone, is an urban ecologist focusing on people’s connections to nature and how design, education, and government can nurture this relationship. She founded NYC Wildflower Week in 2007 to engage urbanites with the wild flora of the Big Apple. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times and the Daily News. Currently she’s also leading a year-long discussion about trees on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC public radio.

The lecture will take place Wednesday May 4, 2022 at 7PM (Eastern time)

Kurt Miller – Diversity of Fungi in Puerto Rico Tuesday, May 3, 2022 7pm

Our friends at the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association are kindly opening up one of their lectures to our members. Thank you MHMA and John Michelotti!

The talk
Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean with a unique culture, history, and biological diversity. Citizen scientist Kurt Miller has lived here for several years in which he has documented hundreds of species of tropical macrofungi. He will be discussing the taxonomy and species diversity of these beautiful mushrooms together with high quality photos from different habitats all over the island.

Kurt Miller is a community scientist from Kirkland, Washington. He lives in Puerto Rico where he has interned with Forest Service mycologist Dr. Jean Lodge and served as a field biologist during the 11th annual International Mycology Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His main interests are tropical fungal ecology and taxonomy, environmental education, and documenting rare mushroom species, especially those which form mycorrhizae with sea grape (Coccoloba spp), a native tree. He administers the local group ‘Fungi of Puerto Rico’ and leads several fungal identification walks annually on the island. He is a FunDiS Biodiversity Database Identifier specializing in fungi of the Caribbean Islands.

Lecture details

Tuesday May 3 at 7pm

João Araújo – The Biology Behind the Zombie-Ant Fungi – Friday, April 29, 2022, 7:00pm (Eastern Time)

João Araújo

João Araújo

The ability to infect insects arose multiple times along the evolution of Fungi. However, none has shown such broad and sophisticated strategies to infect, persist and transmit spores than the so-called “Zombie-Ant Fungi”.

These fungi evolved the ability to make their hosts to leave the colony, climb up to a summit position on plant parts and bite onto the substrate. The infected ant remains attached by locking its mandibles into the plant tissue, which is often further reinforced by fungal structures. Few days after the host’s death, the fungus erupts from their bodies to grow structures that will shower spores on the forest floor, eventually infecting new workers that forage on the ground. They have also developed a broad range of morphologies, adapted likely in response to the host ecology and morphology. In this talk, I will present how these behavior manipulators arose and which strategies they have developed in order to thrive and spread through several species, becoming a diverse fungal group.

João Araújo is a mycologist specializing in systematics and evolutionary ecology of insect-associated fungi, particularly entomopathogenic fungi and their mycoparasites in the Neotropics and Amazonia. João’s research interest is related to insect-associated fungi. He is interested in taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary ecology. Currently, he is working on the diversity and evolution of Japanese, Amazonian and African entomopathogenic fungi. His typical approach is to combine fundamental taxonomic science with natural history, field work, evolutionary biology, microscopy and photography. João is also interested in Scientific Illustration and Science communication through the arts. He is Assistant Curator of Mycology, Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

The lecture took place Friday, April 29, 2022, 7:00pm (Eastern Time)

Michael Warnock – Indoor Fungi – Friday, April 22, 2022 at 7:00pm (eastern time)

Michael Warnock

Michael Warnock

Uncontrolled water intrusions in our homes and work spaces can result in unplanned indoor fungal growth. While most of us have encountered mold or mildew in our bathrooms, kitchens, attics and basements, there are a whole suite of fungi (and slime molds) that grow in our indoor environments. In this presentation, Michael Warnock will lead us through a wide range of fungal organisms that may impact our built environment, with sometimes tragic or lethal outcomes.

Michael Warnock studied mycology with Professor David Malloch at the University of Toronto. After graduating in 2000, Michael worked briefly in the University of Toronto mycology laboratory before joining a pioneering private mycology laboratory, Sporometrics Inc., where he worked until 2007. Seeking to better intersect his desire to study fungi that grow in buildings with his drive to be in the field, he started a new company ID Onsite Inc. in 2003. Since then, he has travelled extensively and worked in a wide range of water damaged buildings. Ever fond of time in the woods, Michael has been an active member of the Mycological Society of Toronto, serving in various capacities including two terms as President. He was a contributing author for The Mushrooms of Toronto which was published in 2015, and has given public talks on a wide range of mycology interests (slime molds, indoor fungi, ascomycetes, and mushrooms in video games). He currently resides in Woodbridge, Ontario with his wife and three children (ages 3, 5, and 7).

The lecture took place Friday, April 22, 2022 at 7:00pm