First Meeting Notes
Four of us met to discuss the paper (Fungus wars: basidiomycete battles in wood decay), including @notplants, @Lando and Anne. It was a delightful gathering.
Here’s my best attempt at summarising the paper:
Species of wood decay basidiomycetes compete with one another for territory and nutrition. The offensive and defensive capabilities of these fungi - which include the release of anti-fungal compounds and detoxifying compounds, growth of hyphal barriers and modulation of pH - vary according to the niche occupied by each species. Some specialise in being among the first species to colonise a resource (R-selected) and are typified by their rapid spore germination, growth and mushroom production, while others specialise in secondary colonisation (C-selected) and employ combative techniques to displace existing species. These community assemblages of species move through wood in successional waves over spacetime.
In some cases, these competitive interactions among species enhance the rate of degradation of the wood substrate - either due to niche partitioning (degrading different molecules compared with the competitor) or due to accelerated metabolic activity to meet the energetic demands of combat (production of secondary metabolites etc.). These insights may have applications in mycoremediation, with species complexes potentially resulting in more rapid and complete degradation of toxins.
Some questions that came from the discussion:
- What’s the difference between homokaryotic and heterokaryotic mycelia? What impact does this have on degradation and combat abilities?
- What other factors influence the decomposition outcomes? How might we optimise for heightened downstream biodiversity or nutrient availability by shaping the degradation processes?
And then some meta-discussion about paper selection, group activities, meeting logistics:
Anne shared that IASS (Potsdam) gives out fellowships each year. If we had a great idea of what we could contribute to science, we could apply.
@notplants shared their appreciation for the high-level nature of the chosen paper and requested similar papers on the topics of decomposition outcomes and mycoremediation.
I shared my intention to create a resource / how-to guide for navigating the academic literature (how to search, how to evaluate the quality of search results, how to branch-out and find more papers etc.)
Anne mentioned the Web of Science tool (webofknowledge.com), saying that it’s really useful for generating maps of related papers (both before and after publication). She also raised the idea of creating a podcast from the reading group, perhaps simply recording the meeting to start with (I’m super keen on this idea).
@notplants requested that we try to keep meetings to 1 hour. I agreed and suggested we might aim to spend 5 minutes on check-ins, 45 minutes on discussion and 5 minutes on check-out.
I volunteered to continue finding potential articles for us to read and presenting them here for collective selection.
I definitely missed out a few things but that’s a broad overview of the proceedings
I’m already looking forward to the next one and will soon post candidate papers for the next gathering.