Chapter 7 : Feminism, Fungi, and Fungal Genetics

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The author worked in the Plant Breeding Department at Cornell University, and his project involved a forage crop called bird's foot trefoil. There was work in the field scoring plants for desirable agronomic characters, and there was work in the laboratory examining chromosomes for possible cytogenetic aberrations. Beadle and Tatum had done their groundbreaking research using the red bread mold . The yeast is not only the best-known model system for fungal life, it is also one of the best-understood model organisms for eukaryotic life. The Southern Regional Research Laboratory conducted targeted research on economically important agricultural problems. Aflatoxins are carcinogenic metabolites produced by several filamentous fungi in the genus . Aflatoxin contamination of food crops is an international health hazard. The fungi that make aflatoxin lack sexual phases (mycologists call them "imperfect"), and in the days of pre-recombinant DNA, it was almost impossible to conduct genetic studies on imperfect fungi. Scientists at MIT had just initiated research on the biosynthesis of aflatoxin and showed that the chemical skeleton came from acetate units. More recently, with the help of Brendlyn Faison, a group at Tulane branched out to apply fungal degradative metabolism to environmental problems, characterizing new species for bioremediation. The author's ardor for microbiology, feminism, and fungi is not appropriate for everyone, but it illustrates how in science, an ordinary but focused person can lead an extraordinary life.

Citation: Bennet J. 2000. Feminism, Fungi, and Fungal Genetics, p 51-57. In Atlas R (ed), Many Faces, Many Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818128.ch7
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Citation: Bennet J. 2000. Feminism, Fungi, and Fungal Genetics, p 51-57. In Atlas R (ed), Many Faces, Many Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818128.ch7
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1. Wunch, K. G.,, W. L. Alworth,, and J. W. Bennett. 1999. Mineralization of benzo[a]pyrene by Marasmiellus troyanus, a mushroom isolated from a toxic waste site. Microbiol. Res. 154: 75 79.
2. Bentley, R.,, and J. W. Bennett. 1999. Constructing polyketides: From Collie to combinatorial biosynthesis. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 53: 411 446.
3. Bennett, J. W. 1998. Mycotechnology: The role of fungi in biotechnology. J. Biotechnol. 66: 101 107.
4. Bennett, J. W.,, P. K. Chang,, and D. Bhatnagar. 1997. One gene to whole pathway: The role of norsolorinic acid in aflatoxin research. Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 45: 1 15.
5. Kale, S. P.,, J. W. Cary,, D. Bhatnagar,, and J. W. Bennett. 1996. Characterization of experimentally induced, nonaflatoxigenic variant strains of Aspergillus parasiticus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62: 3399 3404.
6. Bennett, J. W.,, and R. Bentley. 1989. What’s in a name? Microbial secondary metabolism. Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 34: 1 28.
7. Bennett, J. W.,, and S. B. Christensen. 1983. New perspectives on aflatoxin biosynthesis. Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 29: 53 92.
8. Bennett, J. W.,, J. J. Dunn,, and C. I. Goldsman. 1981. Influence of white light on production of aflatoxins and anthraquinones in Aspergillus parasiticus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 41: 488 491.
9. Bennett, J. W. 1979. Aflatoxins and anthraquinones from diploids of Aspergillus parasiticus. J. Gen. Microbiol. 113: 127 136.

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