Now We Will Lose Fungal Resources: The Infrastructure Hits Just Keep Coming

The next time you hear someone talk about how important science is, you might want to remind them that you get what you pay for (boldface mine):

This morning brought another piece of bad news. This concerns a valuable resource for the microbiology, molecular biology, and ecology researchers, the Fungal Genetics Stock Center (FGSC), currently hosted at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri at Kansas City. The FGSC has been supported for over 50 years by NSF; in January 2014, their funding proposal was declined, and and for the first time since 1960, the sustenance of this resource will not be funded by an NSF grant…

Currently, FGSC does have some funding via NIH (which is not going to be available for too long, according to NIH). However, the host institution (University of Missouri) has declined support, which was a factor in FGSC’s NSF grant proposal being rejected. They are trying hard to identify alternative funding mechanisms, and may have to push a part of their collection to other repositories.

Here’s what the Fungal Genetics Stock Center does:

The FSGC (for more information, see McCluskey and Wiest, 2011), established in 1960, focuses on genetic systems, and is home to close to 40,000 fungal strains, including gene deletion mutants, as well as – most importantly – 19,000 strains of Neurospora, a spore-bearing fungus, that was at the heart of the Beadle and Tatum experiments leading to the original One Gene One Enzyme hypothesis of 1941. Although this hypothesis has since been refuted, modified, reinterpreted and now considered inadequate, those experiments brought a fundamental turning point in the understanding of genetics. One initial goal of FSGC was the preservation of the original Neurospora strains used by Beadle and Tatum, so that researchers of the future could use them. FSGC also contains a large collection of Aspergillus nidulans, a mold that has been used widely for studying eukaryotic cell biology, and also as a source of anidulafungin (a type of antifungal agent).

Once we lose something like this, we never get it back. It’s just gone. At some point, we will have to decide which is more important: science or the false ideology of austerity.

Although one could argue we already have.

This entry was posted in A Fungus Among Us, Funding, I For One Welcome Our Austerity Overlords, NSF. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Now We Will Lose Fungal Resources: The Infrastructure Hits Just Keep Coming

  1. Robert L Bell says:

    Once it’s gone, it never comes back. That is the sad truth about living knowledge, how quickly it dies when not tended properly.

    Trapped by the choices that America has made, stretching back to the early eighties, we are in the process of killing off a great deal of painfully won knowledge – and all the cool toys churned out by Silicon Valley will not make up the difference.

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