the hibbett lab

at Clark University

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Lab News

Updated April 2009

David and Brandon’s recent paper on the relative ages of ectomycorrhizal Agaricomycetes and their plant hosts was the subject of a blog by Anne Minard.
We have just received a new grant from the Integrative Organismal Systems Program of the NSF, titled “Collaborative Research: Fungal Life History Strategies and Evolution: Insights from Isotopic Measurements and Phylogenetic Analysis”. This work will be done in collaboration with Erik Hobbie of the University of New Hampshire. We will use a combination of molecular ecology approaches and analyses of stable isotopes to understand the nutritional modes of forest mushrooms. Part of the sampling for this project will be conducted by undergraduates in research-oriented courses, including BIOL 100 “First Year Research Seminar” and a new course BIOL 252 “Molecular Ecology of Forest Fungi”.

Congratulations to Andy Wilson, who successfully defended his PhD dissertation on March 25. Andy is headed off to the Chicago Botanic Garden , where he will pursue post-doctoral research with “Dr. Mushroom”, Greg Mueller


On February 2, we hosted an evening microscopy workshop for the Boston Mycological Club. Highlights included identification of a Peniophora lilacea (brough in by Karen Davis), the cornuate cystidia of Pluteus atromarginatus, and the striking dichohyphidia of Vararia investiens. The BMC is planning two more events at Clark, on the evenings of March 9 and April 6. All are welcome. Boston Mycological Club

Photo by Alfredo Justo

The big AFTOL classification paper (Hibbett et al. 2007; was cited as a “New Hot Paper” in the field of “Plant & Animal Science” by Thomson-Reuters site which states “Hot papers are selected by virtue of being cited among the top one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) in a current bimonthly period.” It is nice to know that taxonomy can still rank as hot science. David submitted a commentary, which can be viewed here:

Welcome to Dr. Alfredo Justo, who has just joined the lab as a post-doctoral fellow, with support from a grant from the Autonomous Government of Gallicia, Spain. Alfredo is interested in systematics of Agaricales. His initial project in our lab concerns Torrendia, which is a secotioid derivative of Amanita with a disjunct distribution in Australia and southern Europe.


We said good-bye to Ricardo Garcia-Sandoval, who returned to UNAM in Mexico City to take up a new position as a junior faculty member.

David and Dimitris attended a Heterobasidion/Serpula genome workshop hosted by the Department of Forest Mycology and Pathology at the Sweish Agricultural University

David participated in an iPlant Collaborative “Grand Challenge Workshop” on the Plant Tree of Life, held at BioSphere 2 in Oracle Arizona Yes, David knows that Fungi are not plants (but please don’t tell the iPlant people). Video clips of workshop participants are here

David led a Boston Mycological Club walk at Purgatory Chasm State Park, in Sutton MA. We found an amazing quantity and diversity of mushrooms (much better than last year during the drought) and once again attempted to place them (literally) on a phylogenetic tree.

AFTOL grant: National Science Foundation Systematics and Population Biology/Assembling the Tree of Life (David S. Hibbett, PI; P. Brandon Matheny, Co-PI; M. Cathie Aime, Sub-award PI). Title: Collaborative Research: AFTOL: Resolving the Evolutionary History of the Fungi. Funding period September 15, 2007-August 31, 2011. DEB-0732968. $590,000.

The Hibbett lab has formed a partnership with Cover Technologies Inc., a local business with interests in composting and recycling. The grant from CTI will support Dimitris Floudas, who will be studying the use of basidiomycete cultures for bioconversion of cellulosic industrial wastes.

Welcome to Dimitris Floudas, who has joined our lab as a new PhD student. Dimitris comes to us from Athens, Greece, where he studied taxonomy and lignin-degrading enzymes in basidiomycetes.

David and Andy Wilson led a group of new Clark first-year students on a field trip to the Ponkopoag bog. This is also one of our favorite local destinations for the Botanical Diversity course

More congratulations to Jason Slot, who defended his PhD and left for a post-doc at Vanderbilt University with Antonis Rokas. Images here:

Going-away party for Jason


Going-away party for Brandon,
Memorial Day '
08 More photos

Congratulations to Jason Slot, who has just received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biological Informatics. Jason will take the fellowship to Antonis Rokas' lab at Vanderbilt. Jason's research interests in David Hibbett's laboratory at Clark involved investigating the evolution of nitrate assimilation genes in fungi. He is completing his doctoral work this summer. Read more about Jason

David Hibbett has been appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Mycological Society of America, a scientific society dedicated to advancing the science of mycology — the study of fungi of all kinds including mushrooms, molds, truffles, yeasts, lichens, plant pathogens and medically important fungi. Read more about MSA

David Hibbett gave a talk on automated phylogenetic taxonomy at the 4th Annual "Plant" Biology Symposium at Harvard. The symposium was all about phylogenetics.

Tom Heider Chuck Ha Alex Andersen Dan Menard J.P. Burke
Summer undergraduate researchers: Tom Heider and Chuck Ha will work this summer on the mor project. Tom is a biology/computer science major at Holy Cross College, Chuck is a CS major at Clark and Alex is a Clark biology junior. Tom worked on mor during the 2007-08 academic year with Clark undergraduates Dan Menard and J.P. Burke, who are moving on to greener pastures. Many thanks to Dan and J.P. for their efforts. Read more about mor Alex Andersen, a Clark Biology Major, will work with Manfred Binder on the Boletales project. Alex will be helping us obtain molecular sequence data from herbarium specimens of boletes.

David gave a seminar in the Department of Botany at Miami University, Oxford Ohio. Miami University is home to Nik Money, mycological author and biomechanist extraordinaire.

Congratulations to Brandon Matheny, who has accepted a new position as assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Brandon has worked as a post-doc in the Hibbett lab since August 2003, primarily acquiring and analyzing data for the Assembling the Fungal Tree of Life projects (AFTOL1 and AFTOL2). These results cast new light on evolutionary relationships of fungi, including mushroom-forming fungi. Brandon will depart this summer for Tennessee, where he will pursue research in mushroom systematics and evolution of Agaricales and mycorrhizal fungi. Read more about Brandon's work