the hibbett lab

at Clark University

click here for a prior version of this page

Lab News

This page has not been updated since Sept. 2011. For recent lab news, please visit


Welcome to Otto Miettinen, who is visiting for one month from the Botanical Institute of the University of Helsinki. Otto is a participant in the PolyPEET project, and is working on Skeletocutis and related Polyporales.

It was a busy summer, particularly in late July when several of us travelled to Fairbanks for an excellent MSA meeting, hosted by Lee Taylor and Gary Laursen. Dimitris, Manfred and Alfredo all made presentations, and David facilitated a “roundtable” discussion on environmental species (those discovered through sequence data).

Just before the start of the school year, David participated in the very interesting NSF-sponsored AVATOL “Ideas Lab” in Lake Placid. This was a bit like a cross between Survivor and summer camp for phylogeneticists. Among other things, we drew cartoons of each other and played with modeling clay.

We have finally launched a PolyPEET website. Please check it out and let us know your thoughts.

Congratulations to Dylan Glotzer (to the right), who has completed an honors thesis titled “Species accumulation with non-parameteric models and year-based complementarity analysis using a large fungal DNA database”. Dylan graduated summa cum laude and will continue with us through the Accelerated Degree Program (aka the 5th year Masters).

ElisabetSjökvistCongratulations also to Anders Ohman, who successfully defended his Masters thesis on fungal bioinformatics. Anders has made valuable contributions to our data mining and analysis projects, and is a coauthor on two recent publications:

Hibbett,D.S., A.Ohman, and P.M.Kirk.2009. Fungal ecology catches fire. New Phytologist (Commentary) 184:279-282.

Hibbett, D. S., A. Ohman, D. Glotzer, M. Nuhn, P. M. Kirk, and R. H. Nilsson. 2011. Progress in molecular and morphological taxon discovery in Fungi and options for formal classification of environmental sequences. Fungal Biology Reviews 25: 38-47.

Yet more congratulations to Darcy Young, who graduated with a BA and is continuing in our lab through the 5th year Masters program. Darcy will work with Rachael Martin on a project on mycoremediation of oil pollution, based at the Fisherville Mill in South Grafton, Massachusetts. Darcy’s part of the project focuses on transcriptomics using selected basidiomycetes for which whole genomes are available, while Rachael will screen diverse fungi for their ability to degrade oil. Darcy and Rachael’s work is supported by a grant from the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise.

David and Brian Dempsey (who is a teacher at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School) gave a presentation at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Association of Biology Teachers at Framingham State College. The presentation described a classroom exercise on fungal molecular ecology.


Undergraduates Dylan Glotzer and Darcy Young, and masters student Anders Ohman presented a coauthored poster at Clark’s Fall Fest describing their work on fungal ecology and bioinformatics.

David’s mother, Akiko Hibbett, has just published a book, From Okinawa to the Americas, which describes the life and travels of Hana Yamagawa, David’s grandmother. (This may not qualify as “lab news” but we want to announce it here anyway.)

Members of the Hibbett lab participated in a foray at the Trustees of Reservations Cormier Woods property in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day and about 60 people showed up, including friends from the Boston Mycological Club

Crowd at Cormier Woods

Left from right: Laetiporus, Ben & Sparassis, George Davis

Beginning this month, we have a new active grant on taxonomy of Boletineae from Queensland, Australia, which is funded by the NSF Systematic Biology and Biodiversity Inventories program. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Roy Halling of the New York Botanical Garden. PhD student Mitchell Nuhn is being supported on this award.

David participated in the 12th International Conference on Culture Collections on beautiful Santa Catarina Island in Brazil, and then attended the first annual Rick Foray , which was hosted by Maria Alice Neves (who spent time in our lab working on Phylloporus and is now a faculty member at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis). The Rick Foray drew students and colleagues from three continents . To keep all these people connected, Maria Alice and her husband Nathan Smith are running a new blog/networking site called The Fungal Forum

David gave several lectures in a graduate course on Fungal Interactions in the Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki.While in Finland, he visited with colleagues including Tuomo Niemelä , who is a participant in the PolyPEET project, Jarkko Hantula , and Yucheng Dai .

ElisabetSjökvistElisabet Sjökvist joined our lab as a visiting
graduate student, with support from the PolyPEET project,
and will stay into December.
Elisabet is a student of Karl-Henrik Larsson
at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden,
and is studying phylogenetics of polypore,
corticioid fungi, and stipitate-steroid fungi

In September we received the exciting news that our proposal to the Joint Genome Institute Community Sequencing Program for a suite of thirty saprotrophic Agaricomycotina was approved. Genomes of the selected taxa will allow us to reconstruct the backbone of the Agaricomycotina phylogeny and elucidate the evolution of the decay apparatus. We are collaborating with multiple colleagues on this project, including Dan Cullen from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin This is part of a broad initiative in fungal genomics by the JGI, which also includes analyses of suites of mycorrhizal fungi, yeasts, and taxonomically problematical chytrids and zygomycetes


Pedro Crous and David at IMC9

David gave a plenary lecture at the Ninth International Mycological Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. Dimitris and Alfredo also attended and gave posters on Pluteaceae phylogeny and diversity and evolution of gene families encoding enzymes involved in decay in Serpula lacrymans

Jaya Seelan joined our lab as a new PhD student. Jaya is employed as a Tutor at the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah , which is supporting his studies at Clark.

Jaya and friends

Front, L->R: Claudia, Loreen, Darcy. Back, L->R: Jaya, Brian, Dimitris, Alfredo, David H., Mitchell, Manfred, Anders, Xiao-Yong, David M.

RET* and RAHSS** supplements to our NSF PolyPEET grant are allowing us to host Loreen Meyer, who is a teacher from King Philip Regional High School, and Claudia Osorio and David Marcano, who are high school students from the University Park Campus School for a summer research experience. Loreen, Claudia and David are working with Alfredo on molecular systematics of polypores. Loreen discussed the connection between her summer research and academic year teaching in an article in the Sun Chronicle. *Research Experiences for Teachers **Research Experiences for High School Students.

Dr. Beatriz Ortiz-Santana (at the picture at right) arrived and will be with us until June. Beatriz is the director of the herbarium of the USDA Forest Products Lab During her visit, we will coordinate research under the PolyPEET grant. As a participant in the polyPEET project, she will be working with Dan Linder and Karen Nakasone on the “Antrodia clade”, a taxonomically difficult group of brown-rot polypores. She also has interests in boletes and agarics.

Dr. Xiao-Yong Liu arrived for a one-year visit to our lab, with support from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Xiao-Yong is a researcher in the Laboratory of Systematic Mycology and Lichenology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Congratulations to Ingo Morgenstern, who successfully defended his PhD on class II fungal peroxidase diversity and evolution. We had a party at which we marveled at an amazing cake produced by Jenni Mattingly. Ingo is headed off to a post-doc with Adrian Tsang at Concordia University

Cake for Ingo

Beginning this month, we have a new active grant from the NSF Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) program . This five-year “PolyPEET” project focuses on the Polyporales and is being conducted in collaboration with researchers and trainees from the USDA Forest Products Laboratory (Madison, WI) , the University of Helsinki , and the University of Gothenburg, . PhD student Dimitris Floudas and Post-doctoral Fellow Alfredo Justo will be supported by this award. A PolyPEET website will be created soon to provide more information about the project.


2009 Northeast Mycological Foray on Cape Cod.Among other fun activities,we played a fungal phylogeny game, in which contestants arranged their collections on the tips of a giant cladogram and then traced the shortest path connecting their taxa. Points are accumulated whenever a new node is traversed for the first time.The most phylogenetically diverse suite of taxa wins.

Welcome to Mitchell Nuhn,
who has joined
the lab as a new
PhD student.
Previously, Mitchell worked
with Dr. Jose Herera
at Truman State University
on fungal endophytes of grasses.

David gave a talk at the Society for General Microbiology, Darwin’s Tree of Life Symposium at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland

click here for a prior version of this page