New Summer Student Joins the ORNL Crew

I was fortunate to find a great summer ‘intern’ that joined the lab this week.  Stacey Travis just finished the first year of her Masters program at University of Florida in Soil and Water Sciences. For her thesis she is working soil chemistry and phytoaccumulation of PAHs in the floodplains of the Tennessee River near Chattanooga.  This summer she will be working closely with Tarah Sullivan as we make a final push to wrap up work on our DoD/SERDP project investigating the effects of soil fungi on Pb speciation that ends this year.  Here they are seiving soils for our next incubation experiment (Tarah on the left and Stacey on the right)!


New Experimental Field Site? Maybe….

New Experimental Field Site?

Just finished a lengthy grant proposal effort. For those of you who don’t know it can be an arduous process; coming up with new ideas, thoroughly researching them, writing the 15 pages of the proposal, getting all the collaborators to agree on it, and making sure you have the other 15 pages of junk that is required all formated correctly. Always difficult at best, painful at worst. At the end you are never quite sure whether to declare victory or accept defeat. Then it disappears for 9 months, and just when you have forgot about it, it either reemerges as a project that you have to figure out how to really accomplish, or it collects dust until the next RFP deadline. I’m happy to say, I am now in the waiting phase.

Anyway, this is one of the sites we chose to propose to do work in, when I hiked up last week to check out this place on a ridgetop about 2 miles from my office. Definitely would be great to get the opportunity to visit this place more often! Here is a link to the Project Summary for those that are curious. Thanks to Aimee Classen, Greg Hurst, and Emily Austin for all there help in putting this together!

Off to Asilomar Fungal Genetics Conference on Tuesday…

Just finished up my poster for the Fungal Genetics Meeting at Asilomar coming up on Tuesday and dropped the file off at the printer.  Very excited to attend for the first time.  I’ve been hearing great things about this conference for years and it certainly looks to be a great location.  Finally got the excuse I needed to add yet another meeting to my schedule when I was asked to help organize a session on metagenomics.  Looking forward to the session, conference and the chance for a stroll or two on the beach!

Job Post: Two Postdoctoral Positions in Australia with Ian Anderson and Jeff Powell

Ref 114/13 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Eucalypt – Fungal Associations, Hawkesbury Institute for the Enivronment 

For a position description and application instructions, go to:

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake research related to an Australian Research Council Discovery (ARCD) grant (‘Switching partners: a driving force for tree productivity in a changing environment?’). Many eucalypts form mycorrhizal associations with two different and diverse groups of fungi, a trait shared by only a few ecologically and economically significant tree species. While each of these groups of fungi are important contributors to global primary productivity, the benefits that trees derive from these dual associations are not fully known. This research will explain the basis for this diversity and determine whether trees will make greater demands of their partners in future climates.

Applicants should have expertise within the broad areas of plant-microbe associations, molecular microbial ecology, soil science, or related fields. A background in the generation and analysis of next-generation sequence data will also be well regarded.

This is a full time, fixed term (2.5 years) appointment based at our Hawkesbury campus.

Remuneration Package: Academic Level A $91,289 to $96,851 p.a. (comprising Salary $77,140 to $81,840 p.a., plus 17% Superannuation and Leave Loading).

Position Enquiries: Dr Jeff Powell, +61 (0) 2 4570 1093
Closing Date: 21 March 2013


Ref 161/13 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Plant-Fungal Associations, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment

For a position description and application instructions, go to:

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake research related to an Australian Research Council Discovery (ARCD) grant (Plant : fungal symbioses in Australian forests – new perspectives using laser microdissection). The main goal of this project is to understand the importance of interactions between basidiomycete fungi and the roots of understorey Ericaceae shrubs, and determine the potential for these fungi to form mycelial linkages between the understorey shrubs and overstorey trees in Australian forests.

The successful applicant will have experience in the use of microscopy and/or molecular microbial ecology technigues in studying plant:microbe associations.

This is a full time, fixed term (2 years) appointment based at our HAwkesbury campus.

Remuneration Package: Academic Level A $91,289 to $96,851 p.a. (comprising Salary $77,140 to $81,840 p.a., plus 17% Superannuation and Leave Loading).

Position Enquiries: Professor Ian Anderson, Director of Research, +61 (0) 4570 1993 or
Closing Date: 21 March 2013

Job Post: Mycology postdoc with Andrew Miller and Illinois Natural History Survey

The Illinois Natural History Survey is offering a competitive Post Doctoral Research Associate position for 2 years
which includes a generous salary, benefits, funds for research expenses, and the opportunity to live in glorious East-Central Illinois. Research in Mycology that would add new directions and build on my lab’s strengths include endophytes and environmental sampling, although I am open to additional suggestions. Applications are due March 15, 2013. Please contact Dr. Andrew Miller ( if you are interested to discuss this position further.

Please see the position announcement at:

Job Post: Graduate Student/Postdoctoral openings In Anna Rosling’s new lab in Uppsala

Multiple Positions in the Department of Evolutionary Biology, EBC, Uppsala University exploring life strategies in the Archaeorhizomycetes

-PhD position in Soil fungal ecology
-Post doc fellowship

Deadline for application is March 15, 2013.

More information as well as links to the position advertisements on her homepage:

Grad Student Positions Available: Lee Taylor’s lab in New Mexico

The Taylor lab has relocated from the University of Alaska to the University of New Mexico and would welcome applications to graduate school from talented students. UNM guarantees 5 years of support to accepted PhD students.

The Department will support one or more positions. Application procedures can be found here (the fast approaching deadline is flexible):

General information about the department can be found here:

Information about the Taylor Lab research program can be found on these sites: &

Research areas include:
– assembly and function of soil fungal communities across arctic, boreal and desert ecosystems
– metagenomics of fungal extracellular enzymes
– ecological genomics of mycoheterotrophic orchids (Corallorhiza and Hexalectris)
– molecular ecology of mycorrhizal interactions of tropical epiphytic orchids

AEM Cover link and article

There it is! Great Job Tarah!  Here is the link to the cover, the AEM article website and the PDF full article on our isolate fungal-Pb interaction studies and communities.

Also another article in this issue from Melissa Cregger (recent student in the Classen Lab at UTK) on Pinon-Juniper microbial community responses to precipitation change.

Upcoming Cover for Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Found out last week that some photos we submitted with our recent article in Applied and Environmental Microbiology will be used on the cover for an upcoming issue! The article described work led by Tarah Sullivan (A.K.A. Microbial Modus) on some soil fungi we isolated from a small arms firing range that can actually dissolve lead! They do this via the secretion of milieu of low molecular weight organic acids into their surroundings as they grow which changes the mineral form and solubility of the lead. We are studying these as part of DoD funded project that is trying to understand the factors contributing to lead bioavailability in contaminated soils. Makes for some pretty cool photos as well. In the age of online digital journals when I’m sure well over 95% of readers will link to our article via the web, I’m not sure if it means as much as it used too. Still it was fun to do, and hopefully it brings some further attention to the scientific work in the paper!

The photos below, clockwise from left, show:
– a sign with the abandoned firing range site where we did the work in the background
– my finger pointing to lead bullets embedded in the soil
– some of the 800 grams of bullets we sieved out and cleaned from our samples
– Several fungi growing on Petri plates with lead carbonate in suspension that are showing a “zone of clearing” around the outer edge of the colony where they have dissolved the lead.