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John W. Taylor Fungal evolution and genomics

Research in John Taylor’s laboratory focuses on the evolution and ecology of fungi. His current evolutionary focus is on population genomics and adaptation. Beginning with the model fungus, Neurospora, his group, in collaboration with developmental biologists, used a “reverse ecological” approach with closely related populations to find genes under selection that they hypothesized were responsible for thermal adaptation; gene deletion studies have validated their suspicions (Ellison et al. 2011).  With a non-model symbiotic fungus, they used the same approach to find a gene hypothesized to provide adaptation to salt; this hypothesis awaits validation (Branco et al. 2015). Taylor’s group, again in collaboration, has also used natural variation in genome wide association studies (GWAS), again beginning with Neurospora and a complex signaling trait. Here, GWAS identified nine genes whose deletion negatively affected the trait (Palma-Guerrero et al. 2013). Currently, his group is conducting a GWAS study on a thermophilic yeast and now is using gene deletions to test genes hypothesized to affect the trait.  Emerging from this research is the paradigm shifting view that fungi are constantly exchanging genes by hybridization and introgression. From this large pool of genes, the few that confer an instant adaptive advantage initiate strong positive selection.  In terms of ecology, his current research takes advantage of fungal identification by next-generation-sequencing of DNA extracted from environmental samples. His group has applied this tool to compost, tea, forest soils, desert soils and indoor air.  The most mature studies are of forest soils and indoor air. With soils, the group discovered that communities vary geographically in terms of species, but not in terms of secreted enzyme activity (Talbot et al. 2014). With air, the group has found that fungal communities indoors reflect fungal communities outdoors in buildings free of water damage (Adams et al. 2013), but water damage can perturb the communities in ways that are rapidly detected.


J. A. Von Arx Medal, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Dutch National Academy, Utrecht, 2012.

Rhoda Benham Medal, Medical Mycological Society of the Americas, 2004.

Lucile Georg Medal, International Association of Human and Animal Mycology, 2003.

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2000.

Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 1998.

Relevant Publications

R. I. Adams et al, "Dispersal in microbes: fungi in indoor air are dominated by outdoor air and show dispersal limitation at short distances," The ISME Journal, vol. 7, pp. 1262-1273, 2013.

S. Branco et al, "Genetic isolation between two recently diverged populations of a symbiotic fungus," Mol. Ecol., vol. 11, pp. 2747-2758, 2015.

C. E. Ellison et al, "Population genomics and local adaptation in wild isolates of a model microbial eukaryote," PNAS USA, vol. 108, pp. 2831-2836, 2011.

J. Palma-Guerrero et al, "Genome Wide Association Identifies Novel Loci Involved in Fungal Communication," Plos Genetics, vol. 9, pp. e1003669,

J. M. Talbot et al, "Endemism and functional convergence across the North American soil mycobiome," PNAS, vol. 111, no. 17, pp. 6341-6346, 2014.

J. W. Taylor et al, "Clonal reproduction in fungi," PNAS USA, vol. 112, pp. 8901-8908, 2015



Advisor Integrated Microbial Biodiversity


University of California, BerkeleyCollege of Natural Resources


Ph.D. (Mycology) University of California at Davis

B.A. (Ecology) University of California at Berkeley


United States

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