The Kingdom Fungi is a biodiverse and essential component of our habitable Planet. However, recent decades have seen an increase in the number of pathogenic fungi infecting natural populations and managed landscapes. In both animals and plants, this increase in fungal diseases are causing some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species; fungi are also increasingly recognized as presenting a worldwide threat to food security and the healthy functioning of ecosystems. In parallel, clinicians and biomedical scientists are fighting emerging fungal pathogens that infect millions of people every year and fungi are become increasingly adapted to resist frontline antifungal therapies. Traditional approaches to studying the biology of fungal infections are currently being transformed by the growing number of high-quality assembled genomes, by world-wide surveys of population-genomic data and by new technological and informatic strategies. This talk will discuss current challenges in emerging fungal diseases in order to identify weaknesses in our armamentarium against fungal infections. Rapid progress is being made in our understanding of how to manage fungal disease in clinical and agricultural settings, however mass-deployment of antifungal drugs and the development of monocultures has brought new risks to health and biosecurity. I will discuss how genomics is generating insights into what patterns of fungal disease might look like in the future and whether there are ways we can tackle the fungal pandemic.
This seminar will take place in the Zoology Research and Administration Building.