Scientific Themes

Scientific Themes

General Chair of IMC12

Pedro Crous (The Netherlands)

Pedro is professor in evolutionary phytopathology at the University of Wageningen, and fungal biodiversity at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, where he is presently the Director of the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute. His main research interests are fungal systematics (Dothideomycetes and Nectriaceae), the characterisation of fungal plant pathogens, and the evolution of host specificity. He is an editor or board member for numerous journals and has authored or edited several textbooks. He has received many awards including the President’s award from the SA Foundation of Research Development, Alexopolous Award from the Mycological Society of America, Havenga Award for Biological Sciences from the SA Academy for Arts and Science, Christiaan Hendrik Persoon Gold Medal from the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology, and the Founders’ Award from the European Mycological Association.  He is Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences (Belgium), Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology, American Academy of Microbiology and Honorary Member of the Mycological Society of America, Mycological Society of India and vice-president of the International Mycological Association.

Scientific Chair of IMC12

Teun Boekhout (The Netherlands)

Teun works as a principal investigator at Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute (formerly CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre), Utrecht, and the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, at the University of Amsterdam. His main research interest relates to yeast diversity, and includes aspects such as the evolution of opportunism/pathogenicity, role of yeasts in the mycobiome, but also in fermentations. He is the present editor in chief of theyeasts.org, an open access platform on yeast diversity. He has been involved as editor in several mycological journals. He is a commissioner of the International Commission of Yeasts of IUMS and in 2018, he was elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He has also acted as vice-chair and chair of the Division Mycology and other Eukaryotic Microbes (MEM) of IUMS.

Theme1: Cell biology, biochemistry and physiology

Chair 1, Ida van der Klei (The Netherlands)

Ida studied biology at the University of Groningen (1980–1986), the Netherlands, where she also obtained her PhD (1991). Her PhD research focused on the sorting and assembly of the peroxisomal enzyme alcohol oxidase in the methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polym

orpha. She obtained post-doctoral training at the Institut für Physiologische Chemie (Munich, Germany) in the laboratory of Prof. dr. W. Neupert, where she studied mitochondrial protein translocation using Neurospora crassa and Saccharomyces cerevisiae as model organisms. In 2000, she was appointed as assistant professor at the University of Groningen and received a PIONIER grant from theNetherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In 2005, she became chair of the research group Molecular Cell Biology. In 2007 she was appointed as full professor at the University of Groningen. Currently she coordinates a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (Peroxisome Interaction and Communication), executive editor of Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Molecular Cell Research and member of the board of the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute. Her main current interest is the function, biogenesis and dynamics of peroxisomes in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Hansenula polymorpha). Her research focusses on the function and composition of contact sites between peroxisomes and other cell organelles.

Chair 2, Gregory Jedd (Singapore)

Gregory earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University and his PhD from the University of Chicago. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Rockefeller University, before moving to Singapore where he joined the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory as a principal investigator in 2004. He is currently a senior principal investigator. His group investigates fundamental aspects of cellular organization and evolution using an interdisciplinary approach, and a variety of model organisms. These include the genetically amenable multicellular fungus Neurospora crassa, and the early-diverging Phycomyces blakesleeanus.

Chair 3, Marcio Rodriques (Brazil)

Marcio is a senior investigator in the Carlos Chagas Institute (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Fiocruz; Brazil). The Rodrigues laboratory is mainly interested in the mechanisms by which fungal cells export biologically active molecules to the extracellular space. In this context, the laboratory has been investigating the role of extracellular vesicles in fungal physiology and pathogenesis for the last decade, mainly using the Cryptococcus model of secretion. The group is especially interested in how lipids and glycans participate in secretory processes that are essential for fungi, aiming to connect basic cell biology mechanisms with the identification of cellular pathways that could be targeted by novel antifungal agents.

Theme 2: Environment, ecology and interactions

Chair 1, Lynne Body (United Kingdom)

Lynne is a fungal ecologist, who has investigated the ecology of wood decomposition, and wood decay fungi, for over 40 years. Her main areas of research centers around the ecology of wood decomposition and wood decay fungi, including to the ways in which fungi fight each other, interact with bacteria and invertebrates, form communities in decaying wood, search the forest floor for food resources and respond to their finds, and how global change is affecting fungi. Lynne is Professor of Mycology, and teaches and researches into fungal ecology at Cardiff University UK. She is a prolific author having co-authored or edited seven books and numerous papers, and serves on the editorial board of several mycological journals. She is also an ardent communicator of the mysteries and importance of the amazing hidden Kingdom of Fungi to the general public on TV, radio, popular talks, articles and exhibitions. Lynne was president of the British Mycological Society (2009–2010). She has received many awards including the Berkeley Award (1989), the Fleming Award (1991), European Mycological Association outstanding achievement award (2015), the Marsh Award (2016) and the Frances Hoggan Medal (2018). She is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and of the Royal Society of Biology.

Chair 3, Yu Fukasawa (Japan)

Yu is working on the ecology of wood decay fungi, with a broad interest on their diversity, behaviour, and ecological functions, associated with environmental factors and interactions with other organisms on deadwood. He has worked on these topics for deadwood of beech, oak, pine and spruce in Japan as well as in European countries by field works, laboratory incubation and molecular experiments, including variety of organisms such as tree seedlings, bryophytes, myxomycetes and invertebrates interacting with wood decay fungi. One of his current projects aims to find mechanisms of fungal community development in deadwood particularly focusing on the factors that determine the relative dominance of white-rot fungi and brown-rot fungi. Since the difference of these decay types strongly affects physicochemical properties of decayed wood, it has very important ecological impacts on biodiversity and decay process of deadwood, and consequently on dynamics of forest ecosystem.

Chair 2, Duur Aanen (The Netherlands)

Duur is a professor in Evolutionary Genetics at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. After finishing his PhD on speciation of fungi at Wageningen University in 1999, he became a postdoc and later assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen and returned to Wageningen in 2006. Duur Aanen specializes on the origin and evolution of cooperation and uses fungi and the symbiosis between termites and Termitomyces fungi as his main model systems.

Theme 3: Evolution, biodiversity and systematics

Chair 2, Ester Gaya (United Kingdom)

Ester is senior research leader, comparative fungal biology at Kew Botanical Gardens, UK. She obtained her PhD degree at the University of Barcelona (Spain) and after a 5-year postdoctoral experience at Duke University (USA) relocated to Royal Botanic Gardens in 2013 where she conducts research on the diversity and evolution of fungi. She focusses on processes of speciation and phenotypic evolution using lichenised fungi as a case study. Her main scientific interests include methods testing using an empirical approach: phylogenetics, phylogenomics, dating events, ancestral character state reconstructions. Her specialties include taxonomy and systematics of Teloschistales (Ascomycota).

Chair 3, Lei Cai (China)

Lei is a full professor at the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, China. His research interests focus on the biodiversity, systematics and evolution of microfungi. He was awarded the Keisuke Tubaki Medal of Young Mycologist Award (2010) by International Mycology Association. Lei has published one monograph, five book chapters, and numerous articles in international journals. He serves as the deputy secretary general of the Mycological Society of China, secretary general of the Asian Mycological Association, and is a member of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Fungi. He also serves as associate editor of several international journals.

Chair 1, Jos Houbraken (The Netherlands)

Jos is group leader of the department Applied and Industrial Mycology at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute in the Netherlands. The mission of his group is to generate and apply knowledge of fungi in relation to food, indoor environment and industry. His main interest is studying the biodiversity and taxonomy of the species and genera occurring in food & feed (incl. mycotoxigenic fungi) and the built environment, with a focus on Penicillium, Aspergillus and related genera. His research group also studies the effect of various stresses (e.g. temperature, water activity, preservatives) on food- and indoor fungi at a fundamental and applied level, with the aim to find novel solutions for prevention of food spoilage and fungal growth in the harsh indoor environment.

Theme 4: Fungal pathogenesis and disease control

Chair 1, Dee Carter (Australia)

Dee is a professor of microbiology and chair of the Microbiology Cluster at the University of Sydney.  She has spent her research career investigating fungal pathogens, starting with a PhD on mapping Phytophthora infestans (potato blight) virulence genes at Imperial College, London, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Roche Molecular Systems and UC Berkeley looking at the population genetics of Histoplasma and Coccidioides, and now with her own lab at Sydney University. The emphasis of Dee’s current work is on pathogenic yeast species, in particular Cryptococcus and Candida, and she is also involved in projects on dermatophytes and food spoilage fungi.  Dee’s research interests span fungal ecology, population biology, transcriptomics, proteomics, antifungal development, fungal stress responses and host-pathogen biology, and she collaborates with clinical mycologists, pharmacists, chemists, engineers, bioinformaticians and systems biologists to enable a broad and interdisciplinary approach to understanding fungal pathogens.  In addition to research, Dee teaches microbiology and has a particular interest in bringing creative communication into the microbiology curriculum.

Chair 3, Juan McEwen (Colombia)

Juan received his PhD at the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel. Since 1991 he is head of the Cellular and Molecular Biology Unit, Corporación para Investigaciones Biológicas (CIB) in Medellín, Colombia, and since 2006 full professor at the School of Medicine, Departments of Physiology and Biochemistry and Microbiology and Parasitology of university of Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia. His main research interest is in medical mycology.

Chair 2, Martijn Rep (The Netherlands)

After graduating in molecular biology at the University of Amsterdam in 1991, Martijn worked on mitochondrial biogenesis in yeast in the lab of Molecular Biology headed by Prof. Leslie Grivell, defending his thesis in 1996. He then worked as a postdoc in the lab of Prof. Johan Thevelein in Leuven, Belgium, on the response of yeast to osmotic stress, and in 1999 came back to Amsterdam for a second postdoc, with Prof. Henk Tabak, setting up microarray technology to study yeast’s transcriptional response to fatty acids. In 2000, he moved to the Molecular Plant Pathology group of Prof. Ben Cornelissen at the University of Amsterdam to start working on the molecular basis of pathogenicity of the plant-pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum. In 2018 he became full professor and chair of that group.

Theme 5: Genomics, genetics and molecular biology

Chair 3: Brenda Wingfield (South Africa)

Brenda studies the global movement and evolution of fungal pathogens, particularly those on trees, for more than 30 years.  She was one of the founding members of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), at the University of Pretoria.  Brenda holds the DST-NRF SARChI research chair in Fungal Genomics.  She is vice president of the Academy of Science of South Africa and the Secretary General of the International Society of Plant Pathology. Brenda has been responsible for a number of major advances in fungal taxonomy and phylogeny, not the least of which was the introduction of DNA-based research tools to her field of research in South Africa. This has enabled her research group to identify the biology of a wide variety of tree pathogens and establish itself as one of the foremost in the study of distribution and population dynamics of tree pathogens using DNA markers.  She pioneered fungal genomics at the University of Pretoria where she was responsible for the first fungal genome to be sequenced in Africa. Her success as a researcher is reflected in the internationally recognised work of many of her past PhD students.

Chair 1, Miia Mäkelä (Finland)

Miia Mäkelä is a microbiologist and microbial biotechnologist with a main research interest in understanding fungal plant biomass conversion and degradation at the molecular level. Her research has a special emphasis on studies comparing basidiomycete and ascomycete approaches for plant biomass conversion by addressing extracellular enzymes, central carbon metabolism and regulatory systems involved in this process. By applying molecular genetics, functional genomics, and molecular and biochemical characterization of fungal enzymes, her research aims to discover new biotechnologically interesting biocatalysts for conversion and degradation of lignocellulosic biomass, covering both polysaccharides and the aromatic polymer lignin. She is a principal investigator and group leader at the Department of Microbiology of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Adjunct Professor in Microbiology at the University of Helsinki. She has received the prestigious Finnish Academy Research Fellow grant (2017). She is an associate editor for several journals in the fields of microbiology and fungal genetics.

Chair 2, Ronald de Vries (The Netherlands)

Ronald de Vries is a fungal biologist and biotechnologist with a broad interest in the use of natural carbon sources by fungi, addressing in particular the extracellular enzymes that degrade natural polymeric substrates (e.g. plant or algal biomass), the intracellular metabolic pathways that convert the monomeric components released from these polymers and the regulatory systems that control the process. His research has a strong focus on functional genomics studies to dissect the molecular mechanisms involved in biomass conversion, using a small number of (mainly ascomycete) reference species. The results from these studies are used to perform comparative studies across fungal diversity, linking physiological abilities to biotope and lifestyle. Ronald is a group leader (Fungal Physiology) at Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Utrecht, The Netherlands, as well as Professor in Fungal Molecular Physiology at Utrecht University, The Netherlands and Visiting Professor at the Department of Microbiology of the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has received both the prestigious Dutch VIDI (2005) and VICI (2013) grants and is an honorary member of the Hungarian Microbiological Society. He also serves on the editorial board of several journals in the fields of microbiology and fungal genetics.

Theme 6: Nomenclature

Chair 1, Tom May (Australia)

Tom is a Senior Research Scientist at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, in Melbourne, Australia. His research covers taxonomy, biogeography, ecology and conservation of larger fungi, as well as the history of mycology. Building on his lead role in the compilation of the Catalogue and bibliography of Australian macrofungi, Tom maintains the national species list for Australian fungi. He has been a member of the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi since 2004 and is currently secretary of that group and was secretary of the Bureau of Fungal Nomenclature at the Fungal Nomenclature Session of the 11th International Mycological Congress, a role he will also carry out at IMC12 in Amsterdam. Related to these roles, Tom is one of the editors of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, and will be involved in production of revised versions of Chapter F of the Code, dealing with matters specific to fungi. Tom was on the founding Committee of the Australasian Mycological Society, and is currently a member of the International Commission on the Taxonomy of Fungi and the IUCN, Species Survival Commission, Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball Specialist Group. Tom serves on the editorial board of several mycological journals. Tom has participated in numerous outreach activities about fungi for schools and the wider community. In 1995, Tom founded the citizen science organization Fungimap and was awarded the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2014 for his work with community natural history groups.

Chair 2, Konstanze Bensch (Germany)

Konstanze’s research focuses on the taxonomy, nomenclature, biodiversity and phylogeny of certain groups of ascomycetous fungi with hyphomycetous asexual morphs, such as Cladosporium s.l. and Venturia (Fusicladium) that have been intensively studied and monographed. She worked at the Botanische Staatssammlung in Munich, Germany, with the SNSB IT Center for the Global Plants initiative, an international collaboration aiming to digitize and make available plant and fungal type specimens. Several thousand type specimens of lichens and fungi housed in the Munich herbarium were imaged and databased and are available now on JSTOR Global Plants. Konstanze is an elected member of the permanent Nomenclature Committee for Fungi (NCF) and strongly engaged in nomenclatural issues of fungi. Since 2016 she has been working as scientific data curator for MycoBank.

Chair 3, Bevan Weir (New Zealand)

Bevan is the Research Leader for Mycology and Bacteriology systematics at New Zealand’s environment focussed government research facility Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. He is curator of New Zealand’s national culture collection of fungi and bacteria, the ICMP, and is a councillor of both the New Zealand and Australasian mycological societies. Bevan’s research interests are systematics and genomics of plant pathogens, in particular the genus Colletotrichum. He has had an active role in most of the major incursions of plant pathogens in New Zealand in the past decade, working closely with central government agencies.

Theme 7: Applied mycology

Chair 1: Lene Jesperson (Denmark)

Lene Jespersen (LJ) is Professor in Microbial Ecology and Food Fermentation at the Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen (KU). She has an Industrial PhD (1994) comprising the use of flow cytometry for single cell analyses in brewing yeasts. In 1996, she joined the university and in 2008, she was awarded a professorship. Her research focuses on fermented foods, food mycology, yeast biodiversity, microbial interactions, single cell analysis, microbial functionality, food matrix interactions, food safety, sustainable food production, bio-preservation as well as the effects of food borne microorganisms on gut microbiota and human health. Lene  has headed several international, EU and national research projects as well as several research projects with the private sector. Most of these projects have been centred on the valuable utilisation of microorganisms for the production of tasty, healthy and sustainable foods from highly industrialised products to indigenous fermented products in Africa and South America. Her dissemination accounts >150 scientific publications and book chapters, >70 proceedings and >30 oral presentations at international and national scientific conferences; many of these in collaboration with >30 supervised PhD students.

Chair 2: Richard Bélanger (Canada)

Dr. Richard Bélanger is full professor in plant pathology and holder of a Canada Research Chair in plant protection at Laval University. His research endeavors concentrate on the development of biological and non-chemical approaches to control plant diseases. Along those lines, sustained efforts have been devoted toward biological control of powdery mildews with natural antagonists. Belanger’s lab has pioneered the exploitation of the fungus Pseudozyma flocculosa and its unique properties to attack powdery mildews. This research has led the way to the development of a commercial product and to the elucidation of an unusual tritrophic interaction where the plant, the pathogen and the biocontrol fungus each contributes coordinated factors leading to the collapse of the pathogen.

Chair 3: Nancy Keller (United States)

Nancy Keller’s lab has long focused on dissecting secondary metabolite pathways in filamentous fungi and how the products of these pathways adversely (mycotoxins) or positively (drug discovery) impact human kind as well as their ecological role in pathogenesis (human, animal and plant) and interactions with other microbes (bacteria).

Workshop coordinators

Jan Dijksterhuis (The Netherlands)

Jan started his studies at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) were he graduated as a microbiologist. In 1993 he defended his Ph.D at the same university on nematode-fungal interactions including the infection and digestion of nematodes by predacious fungi, using electron- and light microscopy. Then (1993–1997) he worked at the Agrotechnological Research Institute (ATO) at Wageningen (The Netherlands). Here he performed research on biocontrol of post-harvest diseases of flower bulbs by means of antagonistic bacteria. His next move (1997) was to the University of Edinburgh (UK) where he worked on encystment of Phytophthora and Pythium species at the Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology (ICMB)  on an EERO (European Environmental Research Organisation) Award with Dr Jim Deacon. Subsequently, he worked with Dr Nick Read at the same University on rust fungi and hyphal growth of the plant pathogen Rhizoctonia solani as studied by confocal microscopy. In 1999 he returned to Wageningen at the ATO and WCFS (Top Institute Food & Nutrition) to study heat resistant ascospores and food spoilage, as well as Aspergillus oryzae and solid state fermentation. In 2001 he started as a senior researcher at the Department of Applied Research and Services at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute where he deals with the biology of fungal survival structures, including extreme stress-resistant fungal ascospores.

Arend van Peer (The Netherlands)

Arend van Peer is the team leader of Mushroom Research at Plant Breeding, WUR. He is in charge of a team of 8 professionals consisting of PIs, Postdocs and Technicians. Next to the management of his team, his roles include acquisition, project management, education and consultancy, and exchange of information through various international networks and industries.

The mission of his group is to explore and expand the applications of mushroom forming fungi in the bio-based economy, bio-materials, cultivation of existing and new mushrooms, and new applications in medicine.

Arend’s interest in fungi started during his Masters in Biology at the RijksUniversiteit Groningen. he was intrigued by their physiology, genetics and biotechnological applications. During his PhD thesis on the Splitgill Mushroom at the University of Utrecht, his focus centred on mushroom forming fungi. He soon realized that studies on applications of mushroom forming fungi, other than as crops, were only just emerging. A whole unknown and exiting world was awaiting exploration! The following eight years he dedicated to studies on the genetics and development of mushroom forming fungi in South Korea (Postdoc),  Japan (JSPS Research Fellow) and China (Professor). At WUR he continues to explore new applications of mushroom forming fungi, and where he is coordinating the European Mushroom Working Group.

Jorinde Nuytinck (The Netherlands)

Jorinde Nuytinck’s research focus is on ectomycorrhizal fungi in the order Russulales. She routinely combines fieldwork and morphological research with a cutting edge molecular approach. Her goal is to understand evolution and diversification in the milkcaps and other genera and to translate these insights into a systematic framework. She also collaborates with citizen scientists in DNA barcoding projects on a plethora of fungi and is coordinating several fungal metabarcoding studies. The huge and largely undiscovered diversity of fungi makes fungal systematics a challenging and exciting discipline. How all this diversity evolved is an even greater mystery. A passion for integrative taxonomy combined with a strong interest in molecular phylogenetics and evolution have helped shape her career as a mycologist.

Jos Houbraken (The Netherlands)

Jos is group leader of the department Applied and Industrial Mycology at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute in the Netherlands. The mission of his group is to generate and apply knowledge of fungi in relation to food, indoor environment and industry. His main interest is studying the biodiversity and taxonomy of the species and genera occurring in food & feed (incl. mycotoxigenic fungi) and the built environment, with a focus on PenicilliumAspergillus and related genera. His research group also studies the effect of various stresses (e.g. temperature, water activity, preservatives) on food- and indoor fungi at a fundamental and applied level, with the aim to find novel solutions for prevention of food spoilage and fungal growth in the harsh indoor environment.

Teun Boekhout (The Netherlands)

Teun works as a principal investigator at Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute (formerly CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre), Utrecht, and the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, at the University of Amsterdam. His main research interest relates to yeast diversity, and includes aspects such as the evolution of opportunism/pathogenicity, role of yeasts in the mycobiome, but also in fermentations. He is the present editor in chief of theyeasts.org, an open access platform on yeast diversity. He has been involved as editor in several mycological journals. He is a commissioner of the International Commission of Yeasts of IUMS and in 2018, he was elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He has also acted as vice-chair and chair of the Division Mycology and other Eukaryotic Microbes (MEM) of IUMS.

Gertien Smits (The Netherlands)

Gertien Smits is an assistant professor in the department of Molecular Biology and Microbial Food Safety of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences. Her research has always addressed the incredible ability of microbes, and in particular yeasts and fungi, for homeostasis in changing environments. Understanding of the physiological, molecular and cell biological responses to change, and their contribution to survival and proper function, helps us sustain microbial life in the environment, exploit microbes in industrial applications, and combat microbes in infection and disease. Her current work focuses on intracellular pH control and signal transduction, and on the role of yeasts in microbial consortia.