Reviving Mycological Research and Learning at Acadia

by Kristie, David

Dr Walker (left) examining a fungal specimen with Honours Biology student Sadie Moland ( Biol '016)

In the heyday of mycological research at Acadia in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Dr Darryl Grund offered courses, field trips and research opportunities to literally hundreds of students interested in mushrooms and mycology. Dr Grund’s courses and mushroom forays were assisted and enriched by Dr Ken Harrison, a retired plant pathologist from Agriculture Canada. A plaque commemorating Dr Grund's and Dr Harrison's contributions to mycology can be seen at the picnic site at Kentviille Research and Development Centre (Agriculture Canada), at the upper entrance to the Kentville Ravine.

Given the importance of fungi to the ecology of the Acadian Forest region and its associated wetlands, Acadia University and the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre are fortunate in having a new mycologist, Dr Allison Walker, working hard to once again build the reputation of Acadia in mycological research and teaching. Dr Walker’s course at Acadia is one of the few university level mycology courses available to students in Canada. Walker’s teaching and research program engage student researchers in both the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre greenhouse and laboratory research facilities, as well as the E.C. Smith Herbarium on a daily basis.

Cardy Saunders, Sarah Adams, Alex Young, Dr Allison Walker,Tyler d'Entremont,Brandon Landry, Brent Robicheau

In May 2016, Dr Walker took a contingent of students to present their research at the 32nd Annual Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Mycology Meeting, Queen’s University Biological Station.

Alex Young (Hons Biol ‘016) presented a poster on his work on the Development of a Fungal DNA Barcoding Protocol for Acadia University’s E.C. Smith Herbarium. A brief overview of Alex's research can be found here.

Arthur Irving Scholar Sarah Adams (Hons ENVS ‘016) presented a poster on the Foliar Endophytic Diversity of the Eastern Mountain Avens, Geum peckii, from Pristine and Degraded Habitats in Digby County, Nova Scotia and upon graduation won the 2016 University Medal in Environmental Science for her work. More information on Sarah and her work can be found here and here.  

Brent Robicheau (MSc, Biol ‘016) presented a poster on The Mitochondrial Genome of the Rugulosin (Anti-insectan) Producing Spruce Needle Endophyte, Phialocephala scopiformis,an important fungus in the Acadian forest region which helps protect spruce trees against budworm. 

Brandon Landry (Hons Biol ‘016), presented a talk on Marine Fungal Biodiversity of Kingsport Nova Scotia Seawater. Some additional information on Brandon and his research can be found here and here.  

A high point of the conference, at least from an Acadia perspective, was Arthur Irving Scholar and recent graduate Brandon Landry, being presented the I. Brent Heath Award for best undergraduate student presentation. Brandon received his award from fungal geneticist and past President of the Mycological Society of America, James Anderson of U of Toronto and will be continuing his mycological studies on full MSc scholarship in the UBC Botany Department under renowned mycologist Mary Berbee.

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