Club Meeting: Mysterious World of the Fungi

Our Presenter: Dr. Myron L Smith is the Chair of the Biology Department at Carleton University.

The Presentation:

The Fungi comprise an enigmatic group of organisms that is most closely related to the animal kingdom. Fungi are familiar to most of us as moulds and mushrooms, but we tend to overlook their profound impacts on human affairs as plant and animal pathogens and symbionts, in industrial fermentation processes, as decomposers and as research subjects. In this talk, I will provide a brief overview of the functional and structural diversity of fungi, and highlight some surprising aspects of their biology, genetics and behaviour.


Dr. Smith served as the Director of the Institute of Biochemistry from 2002-2007 and is a member of the Institute of Environmental Science. Dr. Smith teaches courses in general and molecular genetics, biotechnology, mycology and molecular ecology. His research encompasses genetics, molecular biology, microbiology and general biology and focuses on four main themes: i) deciphering the biochemical and genetic bases of non self recognition-associated cell death, ii) identification and characterization of new antibiotics from ethnobotanical leads and from agroforestry and bioprocessing ‘waste’ for use in health, food and industrial applications, iii) development of methods to identify and enumerate microbial strains for environmental monitoring, and iv) application of genetic markers to life history studies. This research spans questions of basic biological interest and has biotechnology applications in diverse areas that include health, agrifood industry, environmental contaminants, and biofuel developments.

Dr. Smith obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Botany at the University of Alberta and his PhD at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, specializing in genetics within the Biotechnology Program. Following his Ph.D., Dr. Smith received NSERC and Killam Post-Doctoral Fellowships to carry out genetics research in the Biotechnology Laboratories at the University of British Columbia.