Zygolife visitors to UC Riverside

In early April the Stajich lab at UC Riverside hosted several visitors from our ZyGoLife collaborative team in sunny California. The week started with a visit from Nicole a graduate student at Univ of Florida who came to sample soils and dung on the hunt for elusive mycoparasites in the Zoopagomycotina lineage. Her graduate training with Prof Matthew Smith with input from Dr Gerald Benny is helping her become an expert in mycoparasites like Syncephalis and Piptocephalis.

One collection site was near an old spring fed trough probably built by some of the recent ranching settlements of area but likely used by the native Americans who live here well before. More on the history of the Granite Mountains.
We got to catch a desert sunset over the Kelso Dunes
A view of the Sweeny Granite Mountain Desert Center

Nicole gathered soils from the UC Reserve Sweeney Granite Mountain Desert Research Center in the Mojave National Preserve. Thanks to Jim and Tasha who manage the reserve for showing us around and helping to identify some standing water and seeps for collecting soils. Nicole used Baermann funnels to isolate nematodes from these samples to find nematophagous fungi  infecting these nematodes in these desert soils.  We trekked around to some of the places where there is standing water from springs in the mountain to try to find areas with some moisture that keep nematodes and fungi happy.

Nicole sampling standing water and soils in the Granite Mountains Desert Research Center.

In all, Nicole spent over a week of sampling in Southern California following some of the  same sampling areas established by R. K. Benjamin in his extensive discovery and classification of zygomyceteous fungi.  Thanks also to Stajich lab member Tania for helping give Nicole a place to stay and show her around Riverside. We also got help in setting up space for funnels by nematode expert at UCR Paul De Ley.


We also welcomed Javier Tabima from Joey Spatafora‘s lab at Oregon State for another week to work with Yan Wang and Jason Stajich on Basidiobolus comparative genomics.

Javier Tabima (Center) with Ying Chang (Left) and Joey Spatafora (Right) during “Zygofornia” zygolife workshop at UC James Reserve April 2018

Javier recently joined the Oregon State team after completing his PhD work with Nik Grunwald (Oregon State University and USDA ARS). He is tackling some of the comparative genomics analysis of the multiple Basidiobolus genomes and exploring ploidy, genome duplication, and metabolite diversity potential of these species.



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