Teaching with Zoosporic and Other Basal Fungi

At the 2009 Meeting of the Mycological Society at Snowbird, UT, we held a teaching symposium to describe how to collect, culture and experiment with zoosporic and other basal fungi in the classroom.

Lower fungi offer outstanding examples of organisms that can illustrate biological processes as well as biodiversity. However, in botany, biology and mycology courses, lower fungi are often given cursory attention because of difficulty in accessing cultures that perform well and experiments that are amenable to a 2-3 hour laboratory period. In 1978, over thirty years ago, MSA held a workshop on lower “fungi” at the University of Georgia resulting in the manual “Zoosporic Fungi in Teaching and Research.” However, we now have a generation of teaching professionals who have not been introduced to lower fungi as excellent teaching tools. With an increased understanding of the importance basal fungi in the evolution of fungi, as well as an increased awareness of their impact on the environment, it is timely to disseminate information about cultures and techniques that work in the teaching laboratory. Here we present examples of performing lower fungi suitable for undergraduate teaching laboratories. A collection of lower fungal cultures will be available for educational purposes to the community on request from the symposium presenters.

The symposium was supported through NSF PEET program, grant DEB-0529694, "Phylogenetic and Monographic Research on Spizellomycetalean Chytrids (Chytridiomycota)." Our speakers included three NSF PEET-trained mycologists (see * below)

Power point presentations
"Introduction: Teaching with basal fungal lineages" Martha J. Powell, U of Alabama

"Zoosporic fungi detected and isolated from the environment - chytrid lore and more" Joyce Longcore, U of Maine

"Chytridiomycota: Thallus development" *D. Rabern Simmons, U of Maine

"Zoospores of Chytridiomycota" *Peter M. Letcher, U of Alabama

"Understanding reproduction in Chytridiomycota" Martha J. Powell, U of Alabama

"Blastocladiomycota: Habitat and Life Cycles" Wallace Martin, Randolph-Macon College

"
Trichomycetes - habitat, isolation and culture" *Merlin White, Boise State University


Laboratory experiences

"Zoosporic fungi" - Laboratory Sheet and Laboratory Lecture - D. Rabern Simmons, U of Maine

The figures included in the powerpoint presentations may be used for teaching purposes only. Any other uses require permission of the author.