Fungi are vital to life on Earth as we know it. Although once grouped with plants, fungi are now recognised as a separate, and arguably one of the largest, kingdom of organisms, with over 5 million species estimated. From microscopic single celled yeasts to one of the largest living organisms on our planet, fungi can be found in just about every habitat on Earth, from the Arctic to the tropics, in the air we breathe, in seas and oceans, in the home and garden – and even as part of the human microbiome.
Fungi form beneficial partnerships with plants and animals, they are our planet’s best recyclers, yet they can cause disease and devastate crops. We use fungi in our everyday lives, in food products, as medicines, to help clean up the environment, as building materials and packaging, in fashion and in cleaning products. Fungi will be essential as we move towards a more sustainable future. After all, we could not and would not survive on Earth without them.
Morning session: Shapes and forms of fungi
The course will start with some of the most important first steps needed to begin to recognize different macro fruit body forms. Fresh specimens will be available to examine with hand lenses and microscopes and the participants will be able to set up spore prints and observe spore colour, shape, and ornamentation (with the aid of a microscope).
Afternoon: All mushrooms are fungi but not all fungi are mushrooms
A whistle stop tour of the fungal kingdom will be presented – what fungi are, who belongs in the kingdom, and the role that fungi play in our everyday lives and in shaping our world. A question-and-answer session will then round off the day.
Dr Ali Ashby is a fungal molecular biologist. Ali is Chair of the British Mycological Society’s Fungal Education and Outreach Committee and is responsible for directing the strategy of education and outreach for BMS. She is also a member of BMS Council. Ali held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and fellowships at Jesus College and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Her research group studied the ascomycete Pyrenopeziza brassicae, cause of light leaf spot disease of Brassicas; her passion for fungi and plant pathology beginning way back, in her post doc days, in David Ingram’s lab in Cambridge, where she helped to develop some of the first molecular tools to study fungal plant pathogens. Ali’s taste for public engagement grew from many years involvement with the Cambridge Science Festival, which made her realise how passionate she was about promoting fungi and fungal science in the public arena. She has recently published a book with Professor Lynne Boddy called “Fungi: Discover the Science and Secrets Behind the World of Mushrooms”.
Bookings for this course will close 7 October
Please take the time to read our course cancellations and refunds policy.