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All together again in 2020!

On March 3rd and 4th, 2020, the HiPoAF consortium gathered to hold the second project meeting in Freising, Germany. All the work packages were reviewed and each of the institutes presented their current status. It was a great opportunity to open discussion with all the project members. We were even able to include the remote participation of Katerina Fliegerová at the IAPG in the Check Republic.

From UIBK, Julia Vinzelj presented her doctoral work so far. She has been implementing ddPCR to detect anaerobic fungi in birds (grouse family, e.g. ptarmigan) and goats (Capra ibex, Chamois) feces and is now starting her microscopy experiments with FISH.

The microbial community from new habitats, as Thai swamps, was analyzed and screened for anaerobic fungi as summarized by Wantanasak Suksong and Sabine Podmirseg.

As a response to the lack of sequence databases and classification inconsistencies between ITS and LSU phylogenies, LfL is focusing on generating a whole ribosomal operon library.

The progress from LfL/TUM was presented by Diana Young. Until now DNA from almost all of the 18 anaerobic fungal genera is represented in the gathered collection of so far 51 DNA samples. This progress has been possible with the LfL AF collection and thanks to international collaborators as Dr. Mostafa S. Elshahed and PhD cand. Radwa Hanafy, integrating the seven new genera.

The valuable participation of CeBiTec, Bielefeld University (Germany), was represented by Dipl.-Inform. Sebastian Jünemann, who explained the bioinformatics tools that are and will be integrated. He showed the results by screening the existing metagenome datasets against the anaerobic fungal genomes available on GenBank.

Besides molecular detection of anaerobe fungi, microscopy plays an important role. UIBK and TUM are developing different techniques such as FISH and Eco-ACDCS, respectively. The plan to create an anaerobic chamber to allow for time-lapse observations of anaerobic fungal growth and development was established.

The study of syntrophic relations of anaerobic fungi is part of Akshay Joshi´s PhD work. The importance to know their requirements and microbial interactions, as well as to determine potential inducers, promoters, enzyme activity and metabolites of anaerobic fungi will help us to step into our last work package, the development of semi-continuous cultivation.

After these two days' meeting, every ongoing experiment and task received constructive input that will help to improve our progress during 2020. We are expecting very interesting results by the end of the year. At the end of the meeting, the consortium established new milestones to be reached by the next project meeting.

To celebrate our nice get-together and take advantage of Freising´s culture, we had an interesting guided tour in the oldest brewery of the world, the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan. Afterward, we tasted different types of Weihenstephan´s refreshing beer and enjoyed a Bavarian dinner.

We are looking forward to meet again, next time in Switzerland, 2021!

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