2023 Undergraduate Student Vacation Bursary Awards


Investigating network dynamics of cord-forming Basidiomycetes

Sulphur Tuft mushroom Sam Duncan was supervised by Dr Sarah Christofides (Cardiff University) to characterise the foraging behaviour of cord-forming wood-decay fungi when they encounter a new resource.

A previous study found that fungi preferentially foraged in the direction where they had previously encountered resources. Preliminary data indicates that when fungi encounter a new resource, they then focus subsequent foraging activity in the direction that had previously been successful. The field of fungal behaviour is in its infancy, but is rapidly gaining attention for its insights into how processes such as memory, learning and decision-making can happen in organisms without a brain. 



Sexuality in Fusarium species

Ed HuftonEdward Hufton was supervised by Prof Paul Dyer (University of Nottingham), working on a project to investigate the genetic basis of sexuality (male, female, hermaphroditism) in Fusarium species.

Fusarium fungi have both detrimental and beneficial attributes. They are known as serious plant and animal pathogens but are also used for production of mycoprotein, such as that found in Quorn and Natures Fynd. Ideally, a sexual cycle is used to investigate the genetic basis of important traits in Fusarium species and for strain improvement via sexual breeding. However, for many Fusarium species a sexual stage remains unidentified.  Improved understanding will support better breeding through the development of molecular markers/diagnostics for sex (male, female or hermaphrodite). READ ED'S REPORT


Environmental identification of Baudoinia species in Scotland

Aliaksandra OgilvieAliaksandra Ogilvie worked in Dr Ryan Kean's lab (Glasgow Caledonian University) to investigate and identify the presence of Baudoinia species in the vicinity of whiskey bonded warehouses.

Baudoinia are slow-growing, environmental fungi that primarily grow outdoors on ethanol-exposed materials. Baudoinia are commonly found growing around bonded warehouses: 'warehouse staining'.  Whilst there are no documented health concerns, the fungus is of significant concern environmentally, with potential detrimental effects and impacts on buildings and housing as well as damaging trees and surrounding foliage.



Investigating the phenotypes of "Division of Labour" in aneuploid fungi under antifungal stress

Figure 2 from Saba's reportDr Hung-Ji Tsai (University of Birmingham) supervised Saba Alhagagi in studying the characteristics and function of Candida albicans cells that have gained or lost chromosomes (aneuploids) to determine whether aneuploid fungi support growth of the fungal population when under stress conditions. 

The rapid emergence of multi-drug resistant fungal pathogens has posed a considerable threat to our ecosystem.  The existence of aneuploids in a fungal population is linked to stress adaptation in both environmental and clinical fungi: aneuploid cells have varied characteristics that enable adaptive evolution or adaptive mutation, facilitating anti-fungal resistance.