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Fungal and Oomycete Biology Program

Fungi and oomycetes are among the most important eukaryotic microbes on Earth. Fungi play major roles in ecosystem processes, from the degradation of organic matter and nutrient cycling to plant symbioses and as pathogens of plants, animals, and humans. Oomycetes are among the most diverse and widespread group of parasites in terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Parasitic lifestyles occur throughout the oomycete phylogeny, with hosts ranging from plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates to fungi, algae, and other microbes. Fungi and oomycetes are the most destructive pathogens of plants and play a central role in the development of plant pathology as a discipline.

The Fungal and Oomycete Biology program serves as the center of eukaryotic microbiology on the Cornell campus. Research and teaching activities are focused on molecular and cellular biology of host associations and development, population biology, ecology and evolution, and epidemiology and management of fungi and oomycetes in natural and agricultural ecosystems.

The core concepts that students in the Fungal and Oomycete Biology program are expected to understand upon graduation include:

  • Structure and function of fungal/oomycete cells
  • Fungal/oomycete lifestyles
  • Ecological and evolutionary relationships
  • Mating systems
  • Fungal/oomycete genetics and genomics
  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Interaction Biology
  • Population genetics
  • Fungal/oomycete metabolism
  • Manipulating and identifying fungi/oomycetes

These concepts and skills are developed from core and elective courses, research projects, and outreach. In addition to the course requirements of all PPPMB students, PhD students majoring in Fungal and Oomycete Biology are required to complete PLPPM 4490 (Advanced Mycology), PLPPM 6380 (Filamentous Fungal Genomics and Development), and PLPPM 6490 (a current issues course in Fungal and Oomycete Biology). PhD students minoring in Fungal and Oomycete Biology are required to complete two of the above three courses.

For the MS major in the Fungal and Oomycete Biology program, students are required to complete PLPPM 4490 and PLPPM 6380 in addition to the course requirements for all PPPMB students. The minor requirements for MS students are determined by the Special Committee. In addition to the courses listed above, the Special Committee may suggest other appropriate courses given the student's interests and research focus.