B.A., Botany, University of California – Berkeley
M.S., Plant Pathology, University of California – Berkeley
Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of Arizona
Many fungi live in our Missouri forests. Some of these fungi are beneficial, providing nutrients to associated tree roots. The familiar morel mushroom is one such beneficial fungus. The highly prized truffle fungi are another example. Some forest fungi decay dead wood or even kill living trees. These wood decay fungi serve the role of nutrient recyclers in forests. One wood-decay fungus, Armillaria, is intriguing because it produces light, a process called bioluminescence. Mihail is currently conducting research with morel fungi to understand where and when they begin fruiting in the spring. Such information will certainly interest everyone wishing to collect more morels! Mihail is also conducting research on bioluminescence to understand the ecological significance of this phenomenon. How does the production of light affect the growth of neighboring fungi? How does light production affect sighted organisms such as insects?
Parts of central and southern Missouri have soils and topography which are very similar to sites in Europe where highly prized Perigord and Burgundy truffles are produced. In collaboration with Johann Bruhn, Mihail participates in a research project to assist Missouri landowners interested in cultivating European truffles on suitable sites.