Welcome to IMC 2018 International Mycological Congress
Re-discovering the Forgotten Kingdom: an Undergraduate Course in Fungal Biology
- E. Aitken
- E. Czislowski
In 2017, we re-introduced Fungal Biology as a dedicated 3rd level undergraduate course in the BSc program at The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. Although courses covering fungi as plant pathogens are continually taught at UQ, given the relevance of such to the state’s agricultural industries, it has been two decades since a mycology course was in the BSc program. Small enrolments and economic rationalism sealed the fate of the previous course. The Intention Fungal Biology was squeezed back into the crowded course offerings in the BSc program by running it in the “summer semester.” The summer (“third”) semester is an optional intensive teaching period run over December and January, generally, when academics in Australia would prefer to be dedicating time to research, writing grants or going on vacation. However, there is increasing demand from undergraduates to take on courses during this period to: 1) fast track their degrees; 2) reduce the intensity over the two standard teaching semesters; or 3) catch up for deficiencies in their previous semesters. Having decided on the summer semester the next step was to attract students. For this purpose, the theory was taught online, reducing the need for attendance for the entire summer break. A practical component was still considered essential and this was run in two intensive blocks: two days in mid-December and two days in mid-January. The course had no pre-requisites with the aim of enticing students from all disciplines. What Actually Happened For the online theory material, voiceovers were recorded onto each PowerPoint slide, and the subsequent presentations were converted into mp4 files and made available in weekly sets of five instalments. The use of a laptop with an interactive screen enhanced the ability to animate the PowerPoint slides. Thirty topics were made, each with a resultant playing time between 20 to 40 minutes. A teaching grant allowed for employment of a student to conduct interviews with experts in a range of fields including taxonomy, industrial fermentation and herpetology. The resultant video vignettes were interspersed within the PowerPoint presentations. Weekly online quizzes kept the students on track with their studies. Running the practical component over the wetter period of the year, allowed for an abundant supply of fungal fruiting bodies for development of identification skills. We were also very fortunate in luring the taxonomists from the State Herbarium who freely gave their time during these classes. Who Actually Enrolled Although some non-scientists started the course, after the first tutorial those without a grasp of biology withdrew; the key factor was asking the question if they had heard of meiosis. Otherwise, we did attract a diverse range of scientist from budding medical students, ecologists to chemists. Future Years A mass online delivery mode has been considered but that would require a higher degree of audio visual presentation. In the meanwhile, 30 young people know a lot more about fungi than they did previously.
Fungi and parataxonomy in the Neotropics: bringing the 3.8 million figure to within reach
- D. Newman
- P. Kaishian
- G. Robledo
Of the conservatively estimated 3.8 million species of fungi, only some 120,000 have been described to science. The vast majority of the remaining species are widely considered to reside in the tropics. At the current rate of species description in the kingdom, it will take mycologists approximately 4000 years to describe them all. One way to increase the rate at which fungi are described is parataxonomy. First conceived in the 1980s by biologist Daniel Janzen, parataxonomy is a system of labor division for use in biodiversity research, in which the "rough sorting" tasks of specimen collection, documentation, preservation and field identification are conducted by primarily local, less specialized individuals, thereby alleviating the workload for the "alpha" or "master" taxonomist. On a continent as politically volatile, environmentally threatened and colonially scarred as Latin America, the parataxonomist has the added benefit of being able to navigate complex cultural and socioeconomic realities in a way which so-called "westerners" with academic biology backgrounds may not be equipped to address. This presentation looks at a contemporary interpretation of the parataxonomic model in Neotropical mycology with a focus on the Andean-Amazonian region, with examples of the bidirectional flow of data along the "taxonomic food chain", along with a summary of the past, present and future of mycological education in Bolivia; one of the most biodiverse and least mycologically understood countries on earth.
Fun activities for teaching fungi
- M. Neves
- N. Menolli Jr
Fungal biology is a topic often neglected in high school and undergraduate courses in Brazil, mainly because the time in the official curriculum dedicated to work on fungi is very short, but also because most activities proposed are based on traditional lectures and laboratory format often using examples from other parts of the world. We will present examples of alternative resources to teaching mycology that we are using in undergraduate and graduate courses in Santa Catarina and in São Paulo to increase the interest in fungi. Mycology is taught at the beginning of the second year of the Biological Sciences undergraduate course at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianópolis, South Brazil. The semester is divided into two modules (phycology and mycology) and there are eight weeks to each module. To broaden the understanding of the undergraduate students on different topics on mycology, online tools are one source of information that is wide and diverse. For instance, the Index Fungorum and Tree of Life websites are used to work on morphological diversity and to build a tree based on a list of taxa provided. They are also asked to 1) choose a topic related to any aspect of fungi to present a seminar; and 2) develop a post to be published on the social media. One approach includes websites or blogs that have been built by mycologists (such as Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month and the Cornell Mushroom Blog) that are used as an inspiration for the students to build their own activities, trying to bring to their own reality. The possibility to search for a free fungal topic among a large variety of interesting fun facts results in students reading more than what is expected within the time frame they have. In São Paulo, Southeast Brazil, as part of the Biological Sciences undergraduate course and the Masters course in Science and Mathematics Teaching at Instituto Federal de São Paulo (IFSP), the students have created supporting materials for high school teachers. The topics in mycology are usually selected based on the students’ interest from previous questions during the classes or on previous searches that have pointed out poorly addressed subjects in high school textbooks. During these activities the students produced materials on: 1) edible mushroom cultivation; 2) fungal diversity and phylogeny; and 3) history and use of antibiotics. The preliminary search on textbooks and the topics of interest to high school students have contributed to broaden the subject topics available for teachers. This talk will present materials done by the students from São Paulo (IFSP) and some of the best and more creative results presented over the last two years by the students from Santa Catarina (UFSC). We will also discuss how the students have been impacted with the last discoveries in the field of mycology and how the proposed activities could support high school and undergraduate teachers.
Learning, coloring and respecting mushrooms – a coloring book to approach children and adults to the fungi.
- R. Maziero
Collecting edible wild mushroom is a very popular practice, specially in Italy where the consumption of “porcini” (Boletus spp.) as well as other species is very common. Unfortunately many toxic species are also consumed by mistake and this results every year in several cases of serious intoxications and even death. Most of the times these toxic mushrooms are confused with the edible ones, which underlines the importance of at least a basic knowledge of fungi to avoid this dangerous mistake.
The main target of this coloring book is the introduction of children (and also adults) to the most common mushrooms and toadstools present in their local forests.
After a preamble where the main parts of a mushroom are described with also some details about its ecological role, a brief explanation of the coloring technics is given as well as the definition of the symbols of edibility/toxicity present for each species. The main part of the book is represented by mushrooms drawings with their amazing shapes and the indications of their fascinating colors in nature. Each figure has also a short comment to help a rapid macroscopic recognition, the scientific and the popular names and the indication of its edibility/toxicity. A special remark is done for the deadly poisonous ones. Besides there are information for the importance of submitting wild mushrooms to the control of an expert before consuming and the recommendation for children and elderly people to avoid eating mushrooms.
The Fungi Kingdom is not properly studied in the school and teachers can use this simple instrument to help children to learn about these fascinating organisms in a ludic and funny way.
Lessons learned from mycological educational outreach programs for biology and environmental science teachers.
- K. Green
- K. Hanser
- S. Mozley-Standridge
- L. Phillips
- M. Phillips
- M. Cubeta
- H. Cotter
Since 1967, the Larry F. Grand Mycological Herbarium (NCSLG) at North Carolina State University has served as a valuable resource for taxonomic research, student education and information for state and federal regulatory agencies concerned with identification of new and invasive fungal species. With support from the National Science Foundation Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections and Thematic Collections Network Macrofungi and Microfungi Consortium Programs, teams of educators and scientists associated with NCSLG have conducted educational outreach workshops for biology and environmental high school science teachers for the past 10 years. Over this timeframe, workshops have evolved to better communicate and transfer mycological knowledge to diverse, underrepresented, and target populations of teachers serving low socioeconomic students. Workshops were established based on the premise that high school teachers have limited time to teach about fungi as isolated taxonomic units. These workshops provided a conceptual framework that empowered high school science teachers to promote greater student initiative and leadership in formulating research questions that encouraged use of inquiry-based, experiential learning investigations. In recent years, workshops were expanded to include opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, pre-service, and middle school teachers. Teachers who participated in the workshops created activities that aligned with applicable learning frameworks and national and state science teaching standards for use in their classrooms. In this presentation, we will discuss lessons learned through years of workshop implementation and iteration with a focus on challenges associated with workshop evaluation, expansion, recruitment, subject matter content, and sustainability. The development of successful mycological educational outreach-related activities can foster and strengthen linkages between mycologists and society while increasing public awareness of the value of mycological collections and research.
Educating scientists, students, and the public about fungi
- T. Volk