Motivation for CanFunNet
The fungi comprise a morphologically diverse and metabolically versatile kingdom that is estimated to include 2.2 to 3.8 million species. This diverse fungal community comprises an incredible array of species from environmental fungi that perform critical roles in decomposition, nutrient cycling, and plant growth and development; domesticated industrial fungi that aid in the manufacturing of products from antimicrobials to wine and beer; and probably the best-studied eukaryotic model system for scientific and biomedical research. Fungi are also incredibly successful pathogens, including the most prevalent pathogens of agriculturally important crops, devastating infections of insect, amphibian, and other animal species, and fungal pathogens of humans that are an increasingly important source of disease in both healthy and immunocompromised individuals.
Over the past thirty years, the increasing threat of fungi as agricultural and human pathogens has become apparent and a growing cause of concern. In Canada, ~1.8% of the population (~650K people) are affected by serious fungal infections, and invasive fungal infections are an important cause of mortality, particularly among the ever- increasing population of elderly and immune-compromised individuals. In addition, Canadians are increasingly impacted by previously unrecognized fungal pathogens that have emerged because of changing environmental conditions.
There are many ways fungal researchers are separated by artificial disciplinary barriers between basic, medical, and applied researchers. We have formed the Canadian Fungal Research Network (CanFunNet) to alleviate this problem, so that the collective expertise of Canadian fungal researchers can be effectively leveraged to address critical questions related to fungal disease, as well as to enhance training opportunities and provided needed expertise to public health authorities.
Thank you to everyone who filled out the post-conference survey, we appreciate the feedback! The results are here.
If you have an idea for CanFunNet, please be in touch! We are organizing under a cooperative model and welcome ideas, input, and additional organizers from the community!