Research Faculty #22

General Information

Academic History

B.Sc. Univ. Minnesota (1979);
Ph.D. Univ.California, Davis (1987);
Postdoctoral, Univ. Tubingen, Germany (1988);
Postdoctoral, Univ. California, Davis (1989);
Postdoctoral, Univ. California, Berkeley (1990-92).

Contact Information

Office Phone

Research Information

Research Abstract

Molecular phylogenetic studies of fungi and evolution of fungal life history stategies.

Research Interests

Fungi can cause plant diseases, serve as mycorrhizal partners, and decompose litter and woody debris. Berbee lab research is directed towards understanding how fungi evolved and adapted to interdependence with land plants. Berbee lab projects, funded by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canadia include:

  • Analyzing evolution of the powerful cell wall degrading enzymes that fungi secrete as an adaptation to plant-based nutrition, by using genome sequencing of early-diverging fungi. This research has the potential to reveal novel enzymes for cellulose decomposition with potential for industrial applications.

• Improving estimates of geological ages of fungi by developing evolutionary trees for modern fungi using molecular phylogenetics. Fossils of known ages can then be integrated into phylogenies to date origins of fungal groups. More accurate fungal age estimates benefit the community of fungal molecular biologists by helping to put patterns of gene and genome evolution into the perspective of geological time.  

• Clarifying systematic relationships among mushroom-forming fungi that are important as saprobes or ectomycorrhizal partners of trees. We are finding and describing many new BC species. Recognition of species helps us estimate fungal geographical ranges, habitat requirements and host specificity.

Team Members

Current students

  • Ludovic LeRenard (PhD Student)
  • Anna Bazzicalupo (PhD Student)
  • Brandon Landry (MSc Student)

Berbee lab alumni

  • Jaclyn M. Dee PhD 2018, now Science Teaching and Learning Fellow, Univ. British Columbia Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, Vancouver BC. 
  • Benjamin Auxier MSc 2017, now PhD student, Wageningen University, Netherlands.
  • Tanay Bose MSc 2013, now Postdoctoral Fellow, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Wyth Marshall PhD 2009, now Research Scientist, BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences, Campbell River BC.

Selected Publications

Invited Review

Berbee, M.L., James, T.Y., Strullu-Derrien, C. 2017. Early Diverging Fungi: Diversity and Impact at the Dawn of Terrestrial Life. Annual Review of Microbiology 71:41-60.

Selected refereed publications

Strullu-Derrien, C., Spencer, A.R.T., Goral, T., Dee, J., Honegger, R., Kenrick, P., Longcore, J.E., Berbee, M.L. 2018. New insights into the evolutionary history of Fungi from a 407 million year old fossil showing multiple sporangia and an extensive hyphal network. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 337 (1739). DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0502.

Bazzicalupo AL, Buyck B, Saar I, Vauras J, Carmean D, Berbee ML. 2017. Troubles with mycorrhizal mushroom identification where morphological differentiation lags behind barcode sequence divergence. Taxon 66:791-810.

Auxier B, Bazzicalupo A, Betz E, Dee JM, Le Renard L, Roushdy MM, Schwartz C, Berbee M. 2016. No place among the living: phylogenetic considerations place the Palaeozoic fossil T. protuberans in Fungi but not in Dikarya. A comment on M. Smith (2016). Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 182(4):723-728.

Berbee ML, Wong EYY, Tsui CKM. 2016. Phylogenetic evidence places the coralloid jelly fungus Tremellodendropsis tuberosa (Tremellodendropsidales) among early diverging Agaricomycetes. Mycological Progress 15(9):939-946.

Spatafora JW, Chang Y, Benny GL, Lazarus K, Smith ME, Berbee ML, Bonito G, Corradi N, Grigoriev I, Gryganskyi A, James TY, O'Donnell K, Roberson RW, Taylor TN, Uehling J, Vilgalys R, White MM, Stajich JE. 2016. A phylum-level classification of zygomycete fungi based on genome-scale data. Mycologia 108(5):1028-1046.

Chang Y, Wang S, Sekimoto S, Aerts A, Choi C, Clum A, LaButti K, Lindquist E, Ngan CY, Ohm RA, Salamov A, Grigoriev IV, Spatafora JW, Berbee M (2015) Phylogenomic analyses indicate that early fungi evolved digesting cell walls of algal ancestors of land plants. Genome Biology and Evolution 7:1590-1601.

Dee JM, Mollicone MRN, Longcore JE, Roberson RW, Berbee ML (2015) Cytology and molecular phylogenetics of Monoblepharidomycetes provide evidence for multiple independent origins of the hyphal habit in the Fungi. Mycologia 107:710-728.

Bose T, Reynolds DR, Berbee ML. 2014. Common, unsightly, and until now undescribed: Fumiglobus pieridicola sp. nov., a sooty mold infesting Pieris japonica from western N. America. Mycologia 106:746-756.

Lim S, Berbee M (2013) Phylogenetic structure of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of western hemlock changes with forest age and stand type. Mycorrhiza:1-14. doi:10.1007/s00572-013-0488-9 (Journal IF 2.6)

Marshall WL, Berbee ML (2013) Comparative morphology and genealogical delimitation of cryptic species of sympatric isolates of Sphaeroforma Protist 164 (2):287-311. doi:10.1016/j.protis.2012.12.002 (Journal IF 3.1)

Ammirati JF, Barlow TE, Seidl MT, Ceska O, Berbee M, Harrower E, Liimatainen K (2012) Cortinarius parkeri, a new species from the Pacific Northwest of North America. Botany 90:327-335. doi:doi:10.1139/B2012-003

James TY, Berbee ML (2012) No jacket required - new fungal lineage defies dress code. Bioessays 34 (2):94-102. doi:10.1002/bies.201100110