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NSF Awards $2.5M for Zygomycetes Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Science Foundation has awarded $2.5 million to researchers from 11 institutions to conduct studies, including sequencing-based analysis, of the evolution of zygomycetes.

Zygomycetes are fungi that are thought to be among the first organisms on Earth and play a variety of roles. They include molds that colonize bread and fruits, and others that attack insects.

They also are credited with helping to facilitate the evolution of land plants and play a role in human health. According to the grant abstract, the research project "[e]xpanding and maintaining expertise on these fungi is critical for the field of biology, human health, and productivity," and food safety.

In the current project, the researchers will use sequencing, bioimaging, metagenomic technologies, and other tools to build a better understanding of the fungi. Involved in the research are scientists from the University of Florida; the University of California, Riverside; Oregon State University; the University of Michigan; Arizona State University; the University of British Columbia; the University of Kansas; Boise State University; Duke University; the University of Ottawa; and the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

"By gathering orders of magnitude more genome-scale data and integrating it with biochemical, morphological, subcellular, and fossil data layers, this elusive region of the fungal genealogy of life will be illuminated and will provide a foundation for broad-scale biological research" the researchers said in the grant abstract.