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Mycology Professor From Purdue University to Speak at UW May 12

April 25, 2022

M. Catherine Aime, a professor of mycology in Purdue University’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, will speak at the University of Wyoming as part of the Department of Botany’s Martha Christensen Memorial Lectures.

Aime will present “The Role of Animals in Dispersal-Limited Neotropical Fungi” at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12, in UW’s Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center. A reception will follow her talk, which is free and open to the public.

Dispersal is a life history trait that has profound consequences for the persistence of communities, species and populations. For sedentary organisms, such as fungi, dispersal is usually accomplished through the spread of diaspores via abiotic factors, such as wind and rain, or biotic factors.

Biotic mechanisms typically involve providing a reward to encourage animal dispersal of diaspores, such as the edible fleshy fruiting bodies produced by many sequestrate species that are eaten and dispersed by mammals. Some unique neotropical fungi do not have sexual or asexual fruiting structures and lack obvious methods for dispersal.

Aime has applied a combination of field observations, DNA sequence analysis and phylogenetic reconstructions, along with microbiome, genomic and proteomic analyses to infer neotropical fungi’s placement within the fungal tree of life as well as their specialized adaptations for nonmammal dispersal.

The Martha Christensen Memorial Lectures series was created shortly after she died March 17, 2017, at age 85. The series is funded by former students, friends and family.

Christensen was a mycologist, primarily studying ecology and taxonomy of soil microfungi. She had an exemplary career in teaching and research. She also was an avid naturalist and crusader for species and habitat preservation.

For more information, call Steve Miller, a UW Department of Botany professor, at (307) 766-2834 or email fungi@uwyo.edu.

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