My visit to Tartu and sequence-based classification of Fungi

In October I had the very good fortune to visit the University of Tartu, Estonia, where I was hosted by Maarja Öpik, Martin Zobel, and Urmas Kõljalg. The great Estonian mycologist Erast Parmasto was based in Tartu, and a very small fraction of his knowledge is represented in the Cortbase database of corticioid fungi, which was constructed by Henrik Nilsson and others.

Both Maarja and Urmas are interested in sequence-based taxonomy, and much of our discussions centered on the need to advance a broad, community-based program for classifying fungal taxa using DNA sequences. To this end, Maarja has developed the MaarjAM database, while Urmas and many colleagues have created diverse tools for sequence-based classification and identification through the UNITE community.

After my visit to Tartu, Maarja and Urmas and I submitted a proposal (along with David Geiser and many other colleagues ) for a meeting on the subject of sequence-based classification of fungi, to be held immediately following the MSA meeting in East Lansing Michigan, in June 2014. We also submitted a proposal for a “special interest group” session on this subject at the International Mycological Congress in Bangkok, in August. Perhaps this is the year that we finally develop a broad-based consensus for classifying fungal taxa based on environmental sequences? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are some photos from Tartu and one from Tallin.

town hall Tartu

Acer platanoides

von Baer Tartu

Tallin

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