[ASC-media] Fungal hot topics

Linden Woodward linden.woodward at jcu.edu.au
Mon Aug 21 03:30:09 CEST 2006

JCU media release


Fungal hot topics

More than 800 of the word’s top fungus experts (mycologists) from 52  
different countries are meeting in Cairns this week to share  
information from all fields of fungal science: human, animal and  
plant diseases; biosecurity and biotechnology; physiology;  
biodiversity, ecology and conservation.

  The Eighth International Mycological Congress, held at the Cairns  
Convention Centre, includes specialist workshops at James Cook  
University in Cairns, and guided tours to show off the region’s rich  
mycological diversity.

  Congress highlights include:

 > Monday 21st August

Mycology and mycologists. World-renowned fungal biologist Professor  
David Hawksworth, CBE, the Executive Editor of the journal  
Mycological Research.

 > Tuesday 22nd August

Koala cracks cryptococcus. Cryptococcosis is a serious and  
potentially fatal disease for humans and animals. It causes  
significant morbidity and mortality in Australia, particularly in  
Indigenous and rural populations. Nathan Saul’s study looks at the  
disease in koalas as a model of the disease in people.

 > Wednesday 23rd August

Lichens survive in space. Professor Leopoldo Sancho on his  
experiments with lichens that survived exposure to massive cosmic and  
UV radiation in space: conditions that have proven lethal for  
bacteria and other microorganisms.

A new chytrid killer of amphibians. Lee Berger describes a new  
species of chytrid fungi, which is emerging as a significant killer  
of amphibians in the natural environment.

 > Thursday 24th August

Exotic disease outbreaks and control. A biosecurity symposium looks  
at the tools for identifying potentially invasive fungi, using  
examples of the outbreak of banana black sigatoka in Tully in 2001,  
and the spread of Phytophthora (dieback disease) by humans.

Fungi and the flavour of coffee. The potentials of fungi for  
industrial use, including biofuels and biopharmaceuticals.  A sensory  
analysis of coffee finds a connection between fungus in raw coffee  
beans and the taste of a good cuppa.

 > Friday 25th August.

Eucalypts and frogs.  Eucalypts are revealed as the natural host for  
the human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus gattii; and Jessica Morgan  
investigates the genetics of the frog-killing chytrid fungus.

Fungal threats to world forests. Mike Wingfield on the emerging  
fungal diseases that threaten the world’s forests.

Media enquiries: Professor Paul Gadek is available for comment, & to  
help locate presenters for interview, Tel 0438 865 742

 > Congress Chair, Professor Weiland Meyer, tel 0405 060 409


The science that brought us beer

800 of the word’s top mycologists, or fungus experts, from 52  
different countries will meet in Cairns this week (from Friday 18  
August to Friday 25 August).

The Eighth International Mycological Congress, held at the Cairns  
Convention Centre, will also include specialist workshops at James  
Cook University in Cairns, and guided tours to show off the region’s  
rich mycological diversity.

This will be the first time that the International congress has been  
held in the southern hemisphere. It will address topics ranging from  
food mycology and fungal biotechnology to biosecurity and lichen in  

“Around 95% of all plants have a mutually beneficial relationship  
with a fungus of some sort, and some of those are particularly  
visible in our region,” said Professor Paul Gadek, Head of Tropical  
Plant Sciences at JCU Cairns.

“We tend to take for granted the critical role fungi play in  
recycling nutrients in the rainforest,” Professor Gadek said.

“The guided tours will be a chance for our botanists to show off some  
spectacular lichens and fungi, across a range of habitats from open  
woodlands to highland rainforests.”

The conference will also look at some of the not so friendly fungi,  
including rusts and smut, which are highly significant for agriculture.

Professor Gadek said mycologists played important roles in  
biosecurity, medicine and biotechnology. “And this is the science  
that brought us beer and bread, so really most Australians are  
mycology experts.”

JCU Postgraduate student Sandra Abell will present a workshop on the  
truffles prized by the northern bettong, and will lead a nocturnal  
fieldtrip to see the endangered marsupials in the wild.

A post-Larry field trip aims to conduct a mycological inventory of a  
National Park site near Innisfail, severely damaged by Cyclone Larry  
in late March.

Presentations at the conference will include: veterinary mycology  
including koala cryptococcus; lichens survive in space; mating in  
fungi; forest fungi in an changing world; a new parasite of  
amphibians; Gondwanan fungi; medical mycology; biosecurity (includes  
black sigatoka and phytophthora); frog-killing fungus.

Media enquiries:

Workshops continue through the weekend, and Paul Gadek will be  
available then and next week for comment, or to help locate  
presenters for interview.

 > Professor Paul Gadek, tel 0438 865 742

 > Conference Chair, Professor Weiland Meyer, tel 0405 060 409

Linden Woodward
Media Liaison
James Cook University
Tel: 07 4042 1007 (International 61 7 4042 1007)
Fax: 07 4042 1294
PO Box 6811
Cairns 4870 Australia

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