Priyanka Rani Majumdar
PhD Student/Masters Student

Priyanka Rani Majumdar

Evolution and Ecology Research Centre
Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences

I am Priyanka, a PhD student at BABS, UNSW. Professor Dr. Belinda Ferrari is my respected supervisor. I am quite an introvert type, but I am feeling very lively in lab because I love working in the lab, always enthusiastic to learn new lab techniques. In my free times, I likes reading books.

Project: What key fungal features are important in developing environmental resilience?

Supervised by: Professor Dr. Belinda Ferrari

Project Description: Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent which represents one of the most extreme environments on Earth (Lee et al., 2017; Canini et al., 2021). While these extreme conditions are unfit for many organisms, these same conditions are thought to act as intense selective pressures that determine the evolution of highly diverse range of Antarctic organisms that contain unique adaptations to their survival. There have several studies which were conducted on the survival adaptations of Antarctic bacteria (Ji et al., 2017), and the ability to produce novel bioactives and cryoprotectant compounds (Benaud et al., 2021). But there have limited works regarding the survival adaptations of Antarctic fungi. Literally, not only the Antarctic fungi, limited studies have been occurred regarding the fungal ecology, biogeography, and phylogenetic diversity of the whole fungal kingdom despite the pivotal roles of fungi in terrestrial ecosystem services such as carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen cycling, decomposition, plant symbiosis and pathogenesis (Větrovsky et al., 2020). Most species of fungi are known as fungal ‘dark matter’ with no cultured representatives and the reasons of this are the majority of fungi are not observable by eye and are thus difficult to culture in the laboratory, and even when culturable the phenotypic characters are few and often do not allow easy differentiation (Wu et al., 2019). This research project is therefore aimed at the identifying new fungal species, cultivation of this novel species, elucidating the fungal soil biodiversity and the resilience of soil fungi, from both functional and community composition perspectives, is to understand how communities are structured in space and time and how composition changes in response to predictable drivers across east Antarctica.

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