Tuesday SPLS Seminar - Exploring the functional and chemical diversity of ecologically diverse Xylariales fungi using comparative genomics and metabolomics

Assistant Professor Jana U'Ren
Ecosystem Genomics in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and BIO5 Institute at UArizona
Tuesday, August 30, 2022 - 4:00pm
Live presentation in Marley 230, Zoom broadcast - https://arizona.zoom.us/j/83941552191 Password: spls2022

Abstract: The plant microbiome, including diverse fungi and bacteria living on and within roots, stems, and leaves, is increasingly recognized for its critical role in plant health and productivity in both natural and agricultural ecosystems. Root-associated mycorrhizal fungi frame much of our knowledge of plant-fungal symbioses, but horizontally transferred symbiotic fungi are at least as common in leaves, occurring as endophytes in the photosynthetic tissues that drive all aspects of plant metabolism, growth, and productivity. Endophytes can mediate plant defense against pathogens and herbivores and influence host responses to abiotic stressors such as drought, and as such are an important but under-studied aspect of plant biology. With a special focus on the Xylariales, a highly diverse order that contains endophytes, pathogens, and saprotrophs, I will present the results of our recent large-scale phylogenomic and comparative genomic analyses aimed at understanding the functional roles of endophytic fungi and the importance of horizontal gene transfer to drive the evolution of xylarialean fungal secondary metabolism. 
Bio: Dr. Jana U’Ren received her BS degree in Biology at The University of Missouri Columbia. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked as a research technician with Dr. Brandon Gaut at the University of California-Irvine on the maize genome project and as a research specialist at the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University with Dr. Paul Keim studying genomics and population genetics of bacterial pathogens. Dr. U’Ren completed her PhD in Plant Pathology at the University Arizona. She remained at UArizona as a postdoctoral fellow on an NSF Dimensions of Endophyte Biodiversity grant with Dr. Betsy Arnold. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Ecosystem Genomics in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and BIO5 Institute at UArizona. Dr. U’Ren uses a variety of microbiological, molecular, and ‘omics tools to study the ecology and evolution of symbiotic fungi that associate with phylogenetically diverse plants and lichens in biomes across the world. As part of the Ecosystem Genomics cluster, she also is involved in interdisciplinary projects that use genomic and ecological information to model the impact of fungi in arctic and boreal ecosystems on soil fluxes of carbonyl sulfide, a trace gas that can be used as a proxy to estimate photosynthesis in carbon cycling models.