World Phytophthora Genetic Resource Collection endangered
Mike Coffey writes that “This is the worst time in the 30 years of the life of the WPC [World Phytophthora Collection] under [his] maintenance.… because of the need for liquid nitrogen and high maintenance it is more costly that the freeze-drying process that can be used for fungi … The days when [he] could afford technical help are long gone. But until a few months ago there was money for supplies such as liquid nitrogen and cryotubes.” He now spends much of his time looking after the collection, twice a week adding liquid nitrogen manually as the majority of storage dewars are old and their automated filling systems no longer function. The collection was founded at the University of California Riverside back in the 1960s, and is now an invaluable resource for Phytophthora researchers worldwide, and of global importance in the fight against Phytopthora diseases through research based on the genetic diversity and characterization of the over 10,000 accessions (see http://www.phytophthoradb.org). A DNA bank was set up in the last two years and ITS sequencing of many of the accessions is currently underway. In addition, a multi-locus phylogenetic study of the ‘core’ species is about to be published. Just as Grace Waterhouse’s keys played an important role fifty years ago, genomic approaches will lead the way in this century — and much of the genomic and phenotypic data will be based on live cultures and their DNA maintained at the WPC.
The database is scheduled to shut down on 31 March 2010, but Mike will struggle to keep the collection going topping up the tanks. However, a crisis is anticipated when he takes a vacation in June. Friends of the collection are actively seeking support, and there have been encouraging promises of purchases of cultures and DNA but no long-term secure funding is yet in view. Concerned mycologists are urged to write to Bart Gordon (Chairman, Science and Technology Committee), House of Representatives, 2306 Rayburn HOB, Washington DC 20515, USA (fax + 202 225-6887).
IMC9: The Biology of Fungi
The organization of the 9th International Mycological Congress (IMC9) is now well advanced. To keep in touch with the latest news about the Congress, go to the IMC9 website (www.imc9.info).
The keynote speaker will be John Taylor (Berkeley, USA) who will give a talk entitled “The poetry of mycological accomplishment and challenge”. There will be six plenary speakers will be: Alistair Fitter (York UK), Joseph Heitman (Durham, USA), David Hibbett (Worcester, USA), Nancy Keller (Madison, USA), Gero Steinberg (Exeter, UK), and Nick Talbot (Exeter, UK).
The 45 scheduled symposia are being arranged under five themes, with nine symposia in each theme:
Cell biology, biochemistry and physiology
Environment, ecology and interactions
Evolution, biodiversity and systematics
Fungal pathogenesis and disease control
Genomics, genetics and molecular biology.
In addition, there will be a large number of Special Interest Group meetings, and most of these will be held on the first day of the meeting (1 August 2010). There will also be a Nomenclature Session spread over three days to consider issues relating to the naming of fungi (see below). Pre- and post-congress field trips will also be run.
The Congress will be held in the outstanding venues of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and the Usher Hall in the middle of the city. We are expecting between 1,500 and 2,500 delegates to attend the meeting.
The early booking deadline for registration has now passed, but note that the registration fee for delegates from low and middle income countries is greatly reduced (£175). The deadline for 200-word abstracts for oral and poster presentations is 9 April 2010.
Over £70,000 will be available in bursaries to support the attendance of Symposium and Special Interest Group meeting organizers, and those presenting offered papers and posters at the meeting.
A wide range of accommodation from student halls to all classes of hotels will be available to suit every budget, and this is centrally bookable via the IMC9 website. Delegates are encouraged to book early as August is a very busy time of the year in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The meeting will overlap with the Edinburgh Festival which is largest arts festival on the planet. As the ‘gateway’ to the Scottish Highlands it offers delegates the opportunity to extend their stay and explore more that Scotland has to offer.
For further information about the Congress programme, online registration, online abstract submission, online booking of accommodation, and bursary application forms, see www.imc9.info.
Decision-making on the nomenclatural rules for fungi
The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (the Code), has from its earliest editions, covered all kinds of organisms covered by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum (1753), which included fungi. However, mycologists as a community now wish to be seen as independent from botanists, as reflected in an informal vote at IMC8 in Cairns in 2006 (Rossman, Mycological Research 110: 1255–1256, 2006), and there have also been calls for the establishment of a separate code of fungal nomenclatural, similar to that used by bacteriologists (Samson et al., Studies in Mycology 59: 71–73, 2007). Questionnaires at mycological meetings in Russia, Spain and the USA have all been in favour of either a separate Code for fungi or modification in the Botanical Code (Hawksworth, Mycological Research 111: 1363–1364, 2007).
Formal proposals have now been made to change the status quo (Hawksworth et al., Taxon 58: 658–659, 2009; Mycotaxon 108: 1–4, 2009), and a Nomenclatural Session is to be convened during IMC9 (see above) that will both debate the issue of a separate Code and consider and vote on proposals made to change provisions in the current Code for fungal nomenclature, including the transfer of power on matters solely relating to fungi from International Botanical Congresses to International Mycological Congresses. It is also anticipated that proposals relating to a requirement to deposit information on newly proposed fungal taxa, and a revision of the rules permitting dual nomenclature in pleomorphic fungi will also be before the Session. The decisions made at the IMC9 Nomenclature Session will be transmitted to the next International Botanical Congress, which is to be held in Melbourne in 2011; the Rapporteur-général of the next International Botanical Congress, John McNeill, will be present at the IMC9 Nomenclature Session.
IMC9 has the prospect of initiating fundamental changes in the arrangements and rules relating to the naming of fungi. It is anticipated that these will render fungal nomenclature better suited to the needs of the molecular and electronic age, and, most importantly, ensure that key decisions on fungal nomenclature are in future to be taken by mycologists and not by botanists. All full registrants at IMC9 will be able to vote on the proposals. To further ensure the involvement of as wide a range of mycologists as possible in these important debates, Mycotaxon is also now publishing, as simultaneously as possible, all proposals relating to the nomenclature of fungi that appear in Taxon.