Welcome to the Taylor Lab!

Research Highlights

Valley Fever and wild rodents

San Joaquin Valley Fever is a human disease caused by the fungus, Coccidioides immitis. This fungus and it’s sister species, Coccidioides posadasii, are found in hot, dry regions from the San Joaquin Valley of California, through Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Indoor air and water damaged homes

Fungi are found throughout the environment, including the air. Outdoors, there is about one fungal spore per liter and we breathe ca. 11,000 liters of air each day. Outdoors, therefore, you breathe in ca. 11,000 spores each day. Buildings reduce the amount of fungi and, in a well-constructed and maintained building, you would breathe in only ca. 1,100 spores/day. In a water damaged building, where fungi grow on wall board, paper, paint, glue, caulk and wood, the concentration of spores can rise by 10- to 100-fold or more. In these buildings, you could breathe in 110,000 or more spores/day.

Sorghum, drought and fungi

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a grass closely related to sugarcane (Saccharum) and corn (Zea mays). It is the fifth most important cereal crop globally; its use is increasing due to its ability to resist drought. We are studying the role that fungi play in sorghum’s drought resistance and initiated our studies with the obligately mutualistic mycorrhizal fungi found in sorghum roots, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM fungi).

Reverse-Ecology by Population Genomics

To highlight one of our basic projects, we have used population genomics to find genes involved in adaptation of newly diverged populations, a first for a microbe. We call our approach, reverse-ecology.

Fungi for Biofuels

To highlight one of our translation projects, we wanted to work with Berkeley's Energy Biosciences Institute to find as many fungi as possible that naturally convert plant cell walls to fermentable sugars. We applied a high-throughput, dilution technique developed for the pharmaceutical industry to cultivating fungi that decompose leaves of Miscanthus and sugarcane. From 4800 cultures we found 100 species of decomposers [Shrestha et al. 2011] and subsequent research has shown that many of these fungi bioconvert Miscanthus faster than the current industry leaders.

Evolution of Fungi

We use fungi to study the basic pattern and process of evolution and how that knowledge can be translated to address social problems. Using the tool of population genomics, our basic research aims to use the model Ascomycota fungus Neurospora to understand how newly diverged populations adapt to differences in the physical or biological environment [Ellison et al. 2011].
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