Diana Leemon, Agri-Science Qld, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Ecosciences Precinct GPO Box 267 Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia.
Dee Carter, School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
Diana studied at the University of Queensland (UQ) majoring in Botany and Mycology before working in plant pathology followed by timber pathology research at UQ. After a number of years she decided to head off into high school teaching, so completed a graduate diploma in education and taught science, maths and biology in state schools, then later moved to Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to teach international students. Completing a graduate diploma in biotechnology at QUT awakened an interest in returning to science research. Diana took up a short, temporary research appointment with the Qld Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) in 2000 to investigate the fungal control of cattle tick because “they were desperate to find a mycologist”. Thus began a close and beneficial relationship with the fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana. During the ensuring twelve years Diana became a permanent scientist with QDPI (now Dept of Agirculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)) completed a master of applied science (QUT), a PhD (UQ) and developed her specialty research area: “Fungal bio-control of livestock ectoparasites”. Some completed projects include using Metarhizium and Beauveria to control sheep lice and sheep blowflies, feedlot nuisance flies, cattle tick and buffalo flies, and the small hive beetle that rampages through beehives in Qld and NSW. She has recently moved into a research liaison role with FutureBeef, the extension vehicle supporting Northern Australian beef production. Diana was persuaded to take up the AMS vice presidency because she is passionate about the need to lift the profile of mycology and interaction between mycologists in Australasia, before mycologists here have to be listed as rare and endangered species. Diana was vice president of AMS from 2009-2012, and became president in 2012.
Peter came to tertiary learning and research after a period working in soil conservation and farming. He first studied native plant floriculture. His direction was subverted by a lecture on mycorrhizal fungi, in which microbes were exposed as major players in ecosystem functions. This change in direction led to a PhD in soil mycology under the supervision of Jack Warcup at the University of Adelaide, a contract to teach Mycology and Plant Pathology at UNE, a short post-doctoral period with Sally Smith, and then in 1989, an appointment to teach fungal biology and research interactions between plants and fungi at the University of Sydney. His research is underpinned by a philosophy of seeking ecologically sustainable approaches to the production of food and fibre by utilising biological resources. Research on mycorrhizal fungi, fungal endophytes and soil microbiology has followed. The most recent research focusses on how melanitic endophytic fungi sequester organic carbon in soil, and how endophytic fungi including entomopathogens interact with pathogens and insect pests in crop plants. Peter is also passionate about exploiting technological developments to enhance student learning in tertiary settings. He led the development of the website ‘Fungal Biology’ (http://bugs.bio.usyd.edu.au/learning/resources/Mycology/) which first came on-line in 1995, and worked with experts in communication on the use of electronic resources to enhance skills in writing and reading. He is also interested in art, culture and society.
Sandra is employed as a Lecturer in Tropical Biology at James Cook University Cairns teaching biology, ecology and plant sciences (with a strong emphasis on mycology) to undergraduate students. Sandra completed her PhD thesis in 2008 that examined how the distribution of hypogeous (fruiting belowground ~ truffle) fungi determines the habitat restriction of an endangered fungus-eating marsupial Bettongia tropica. Prior to that her undergraduate degree majored in botany with an honours research thesis submitted in 2002 on the plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi that causes rainforest dieback in the Australian wet tropics bioregion. Sandra is currently establishing a research group that has a special focus on tropical mycological ecology. Recent projects have discovered that truffle fungi and cockatoo grass distribution (essential resources) are tightly linked with that of the endangered marsupial, Bettongia tropica, and that the entomopathogen Beauveria bassiana has biocontrol potential in the Australian Cavendish variety of banana. New projects are currently being developed that will explore the population viability and distribution of Bettongia tropica as well as the evolutionary history and origins of truffle fungi and mountain-top restricted fungi in Australasia.
John completed a PhD on the cell biology of the dieback fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi at the ANU in 1993. He became enamoured with mycorrhizal systems when he carried out postdoctoral research on orchid mycorrhizas with Peter McGee at Sydney University from 1994-1995. After a two and a half year postdoctoral position in Toronto, Canada working on the cell biology of self-incompatibility mechanisms in plants, he took up an academic position at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Queensland (where he remains since 1998). His research is focussed on the ecology, taxonomy and economic uses of mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi. A particular recent focus has been the mycorrhizal associations Australian non-photosynthetic orchids form with basidiomycete genera such as Russula, Campanella and Marasmius. Molecular and stable isotopic analyses have shown that some non-photosynthetic orchids such as Dipodium variegatum obtain their carbon by parasitising the ectomycorrhizal associations of Eucalyptus roots, while others such as Gastrodia sesamoides obtain carbon from wood rotting fungi. He currently has students working on the ecology and taxonomy of endophytic fungi inhabiting the leaves of Queensland rainforest plants, the mycorrhizal associations of epiphytic orchids and the taxonomy of Queensland Russula fungi. A new research area has involved screening endophytic fungal isolates for the capacity to inhibit medically important microbes such as MRSA, Bacillus cereus and Candida albicans. John teaches microbiology, genetics and molecular biology in the Faculty of Sciences, University of Southern Queensland. He began a term as secretary of the AMS in 2011.
Eirian Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Plant Pathology and Mycology at Lincoln University, New Zealand. After completing her PhD at Edinburgh University, Scotland on the ecology of mycoparasitic Pythium species she did a Postdoc at Lincoln University on biocontrol of the fungal pathogen, S. sclerotiorum, using C. minitans and Trichoderma species.She then returned to the UK to work at the Horticulture Research International Warwick working on a number of projects including determining the factors affecting the control of S. sclerotiorum by the mycoparasite C. minitans and mechanisms by which mycorrhiza helper bacteria stimulate mycorrhiza formation by Lactarius rufus and Suillus luteus. Eirian then moved back to New Zealand to take up a lectureship at Lincoln University where her main research interests are in the ecology of soilborne fungi and in particular interaction between microorganisms and their role in maintaining/developing soil health. She is particularly interested in interactions between plant pathogens and beneficial microorganisms (biocontrol agents, mycorrhiza) and also between beneficial microorganisms (mycorrhiza and mycorrhiza helper bacteria/biocontrol agents). Marked strains (endogenous and exogenous markers) have been used to track both pathogens and beneficial microorganisms to investigate the effect of biotic and abiotic factors on colonisation, survival and activity in soil. As well as research Eirian teaches undergraduate mycology and plant pathology. During her term on the AMS council, Eirian is keen on increasing the participation from New Zealand mycologists and especially students in the society.
Richard is currently a Senior Research Scientist with the Science Division of the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and is based in Manjimup, Western Australia. He gained his BSc then Honours Degree from the University of Tasmania in 1986 undertaking a study on the population biology and ecology of Fomes hemitephrus in standing dead Nothofagus cunninghamii trees. Following a stint with Forestry Tasmania studying the macrofungi of temperate rainforests he travelled to Canada to undertake a PhD at the University of British Columbia studying the infection biology of the root disease pathogen Armillaria ostoyae in western larch (Larix occidentalis) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees. Richard began working with DEC in 1996 where his main areas of research concern forest management issues, including: the impact and control of Armillaria root disease caused by Armillaria luteobubalina in karri regrowth forests and the effects of fire and timber harvesting on macrofungal communities in karri and jarrah forests. He is especially interested in the succession of macrofungal communities following fire and those species specifically adapted to cope with fire. He is also passionate about documenting the many undescribed species encountered during surveys. Richard began his term as a Councillor of AMS in 2011.
Dee did a degree in microbiology and biochemistry at Otago University, New Zealand, where she became captivated by molecular biology and its application to microorganisms. She undertook a PhD at Imperial College, London on mapping avirulence genes in Phytophthera infestans, and did postdoctoral fellowships in Montpellier, France and UC Berkeley, California. Dee moved to Australia in 1995 to take up a lectureship at the University of Sydney. Her research centres on the pathogenic yeast species Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii, with a focus on population genetics, host-pathogen interactions and the response to antifungal drugs at the molecular level. The long-term aim of her work is to identify therapeutic and diagnostic markers for fungal diseases, which remain extremely difficult to identify and treat. As well as research, Dee teaches undergraduate microbiology within the School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences at Sydney University. She was president of AMS from 2009-2012, and became managing editor of the journal in 2012.