Notes for students
We are developing the practical....
Use these links to beam over to the following tools that I hope will make life easier for you.
Please help us!
There are three research projects that I currently am running. It is very largely dependent on asking for your help, because without it, we will never be able to collect the amount of data needed. (1) With your help we will be able to, for the first time in South Africa, determine if some fungal species are threatened, common, rare, or nearing extinction, and put them on the conservation lists! (2) With your help, we can determine the distributions of some species (for instance, check out MushroomMap) and boost DNA barcoding of our native fungi. This will lead to our ability to describe some of the many new fugal species we have. (3) With your help, we can make a list of ecto-mycorrhizal fungi that were introduced with their hosts into South Africa, and determine if they are invading our native vegetation.
It will not take much of your time. All we need is your memory and/or photographs, and to sit down and fill in the online forms as much as you can. If you do not like doing it like that, you can download the excell forms, or just please drop me an email and I can help you with it.
* Collection of fungi for identification or description purposes:
Below follows a summary of the process from collection of a fungus (micro- or macrofungus) to identifying or describing it, and until it is lodged in the National Collection of Fungi (NCF) or any other collection.after your research is done. This will help you to know what you are in for. There are also a sheet (and drawings) to help you with noting down the needed morphological characteristics to identify macrofungi.
Extracts showing morphological features (from Van der Westhuizen & Eicker (1994) Mushrooms of Southern Africa, Struik).
* Having all of your specimen and isolate information and results in one place
Once you have started collecting, albeit macrofungi such as mushrooms or microfungi such as bread mould, you now need to start organizing your growing specimen and derived isolate collection. When it starts to become rather large, you will appreciate that you did this from the beginning. Choose any collection data sheets from the fungal barcoding or conservation pages.
When you are done with your collections, you then start with the actual research (often in the lab). Two additional sheets presented here (one more tailor-made for macrofungi, the other one for microfungi) are very extensive and detailed. However, it enables you to have everything you do in one place, including photographs, where you eventually submitted your isolates to, and even places for sequences (if that is what you do). Obviously some detail will only be obtained much later (e.g. Genbank numbers). I hope this helps!
* How to operate in a microbiology laboratory
Anyone starting to work in a laboratory is at first lost, even those of us knowing what to look for. Read through the various things to do and what not to do, and keep your supervisor happy, you research safe, your lab-mates liking your and the lab from blowing up.
* How to write a literature review
Anyone starting with a project, even professional scientist and other scientific type of people, needs to read up on it. To write that proposal or get that permit or ethics approval, you need to develop a literature review to make sure you are not repeating the work or others, to know as much as you can about your topic, subject, approach or organism, how to do your research, the pitfalls and possibilities, and the relevance or impact of your study. Only much much later after many past literature reviews you somehow manage to keep the facts in your head in the appropriate places, or when you really know everything about your field.
It is usually the dread of any starting up post-graduate or employee (even more experienced ones), the dread of your supervisors that needs to read and edit it, and also the dread of the examiners of the theses, editors and reviewers if you want to publish it, and other types of review panels. The two most important thing, as my very-good-with-this postgraduate supervisors and anyone-else-I-also-hooked-in, taught me, is structure on a number of levels, and being prepared to keep on changing and shaping. Find thus below a guide to help you achieve that, to actually manage to get only the relevant references in the document, and finer pointers. I sincerely hope that this will help you (and your supervisors)and to prepare you for this journey!