Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Yr Athro Lynne Boddy

Yr Athro Lynne Boddy

Professor

Ysgol y Biowyddorau

Email:
boddyl@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 4776
Location:
Adeilad Syr Martin Evans, Rhodfa'r Amgueddfa, Caerdydd, CF10 3AX

Research overview

I am a decomposition ecologist / fungal ecologist. I have researched the ecology of wood decomposition, including wood decomposition processes, synecology and autecology, since the mid 1970s. I have pioneered work on the fungal community structure and dynamics of wood. I investigate the outcome of fungal interactions in artificial and more natural conditions, how these change depending on biotic and abiotic factors, and use this information to explain patterns of fungal community structure and development. I have begun to relate community structure and development to decomposition rate. A deeper understanding of interactions and their effects is now coming from studying gene expression during interspecific interactions in near natural conditions, and production of volatile and diffusible organic compounds during mycelial interactions. I have investigated the network architecture of mycelia growing in soil, and my work has revealed the foraging ecology and key roles of cord-forming basidiomycetes in nutrient translocation and wood decay in forest ecosytems. My group has made major advances in understanding the effects of invertebrate grazing on fungal foraging, communities and nutrient release. Recent work has revealed major phenological trends in fungal fruiting (implying major changes in mycelial activity), crucial to ecosystem functioning. I am a leading authority on basidiomycete ecology, and have published over 250 papers and books on the ecology of wood decomposition.

Research division

Organisms and Environment

Education and outreach

For many people, when fungi are mentioned their first reaction is "can I eat it or will it kill me?" or "yuk ! how can we get rid of them?;  they rot our food and homes, kill our plants and even sometimes grow on us".  However, without fungi the terrestrial ecosystems of planet Earth would not work. Fungi are the major decomposers of dead plants, releasing nutrients and feeding plants with water and mineral nutrients. Lichens are fungi plus a photosynthetic organism, and in vast tracts of tundra are the main primary producers. Fungi are hugely important sources of food to invertebrates and many vertebrates, including man: cultivated fruit bodies; yeast in bread, beer, wine and Marmite; soy sauce; some meat substitutes, such as Quorn; it is fungi that develop the fragrance and flavour of 'blue cheese', as well as the texture of Camembert; and most cheese production these days uses a fungal enzyme to coagulate the curds. Fungi produce many 'wonder drugs', including penicillin and other antibiotics, the statins that control cholesterol, and cyclosporine, which prevents transplant tissue rejection; and other  industrial chemicals, and bioethanol – an alternative to fossil fuels. So, without fungi there would be no fertile soil, no plant life, no herbivores, no carnivores and no humans. 

I am a keen advocate, aiming to get this fascinating fungal message across to a wider audience, by giving talks, participating in biology/nature events and through the media. Events include UK Fungus Day (which she is now trying to expand to international Fungus Day), the Natural History Museum's 'Big Nature Day', the BBC 'Summer of Wildlife', and the RHS Chelsea Flower show, at which, I was a prime mover with the British Mycological Society Gold Medal winning exhibt "Out of sight out of mind" in 2009. As well as being a hit with the judges, the display received wide acclaim from the public, and the 3.5 min prime time BBC TV slot. Also, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent 7 or 8 minutes viewing the display and discussing the importance of fungi to our planet, as well as considering culinary delights. This success has been followed by a large exhibition on "Amazing Fungi" which ran for 4 months at the royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2010, and since then has been housed at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where it has been viewed by several hundred thousand visitors. Published at the same time as the start of this exhibition, "From Another Kingdom" – aimed at a general interested audience – is RBGEs best selling book. 

I have spoken about fungi in numerous Radio and TV programmes and film documentaries, including, Radio 4 Farming Today, Saving Species, Living World, Forum, BBC World Service, Radio Wales, BBC TV ' Afterlife', 'Great British Food Revival', 'The One Show' and Chanel 4's 'Sunday Brunch'.  She and her team also participated in the award winning  French produced film "Will fungi help save the world ?" first shown on the European cultural television channel 'Arte' in Autumn 2013. I am also an active member of the British Mycological Society, of which I was president in 2009/10, and have organized on their behalf many conferences not only for academics but also for the wider public.

I am joint author of Wood Decomposition: its Biology and Ecology, and of over 200 papers on microbial ecology. I am a woodland fungal ecologist, especially interested in community function and development in fallen wood and standing trees, mycelial interactions, foraging and translocation by cord-forming fungi, interactions between saprotrophic, mycorrhizal and root-pathogenic mycelia, fungus-invertebrate interactions, and the effect of climate change on fungi. 

Contributions to this field have been recognized by receipt of the British Mycological Society (BMS) Berkeley Award in 1989, and the 1991 Society of General Microbiology Fleming Lectureship. I ggave the Ohn Karling lecture to the Mycological Society of America in 1999, and was awarded a Personal Chair in 1996. I was vice-president of the British Mycological Society in 1995 and am now serving again on BMS Council, publications committees and program committee. I have organised numerous national BMS and International symposia on various aspects of fungal ecology, most recently being the BMS Meeting "Ecology of Fungal Communities ( Manchester, 2007). I am the chief editor of the newly launched BMS/Elsevier journal "Fungal Ecology". I have collaborated widely on ecological projects, both in the UK and abroad.

I am also interested in the application of mathematical and computing techniques to answer biological questions. In particular the use of graph theory to understand the properties of fungal mycelial network architecture, in collaboration with Mark Fricker ( University of Oxford). We have also made considerable advances in identification of phyloplankton from flow cytometry data using artificial neural networks, working in collaboration with Colin Morris ( University of Glamorgan). I am a member of the editorial board of "Ecological Informatics", and the organising committee of the International Conference on Ecological Informatics.

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