Dr Gareth Griffith is a Reader in Mycology within the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, Wales UK. Within IBERS, Gareth leads his own mycology research group.

Gareth’s research interests within mycology are broad but were originally sparked as an undergraduate by a summer internship in Prof Tony Trinci’s group at Manchester University, where he worked with Sue Lowe to observe the life cycle of the anaerobic fungus Neocallimastix frontalis. After graduating in Microbiology, he stayed at Aberystwyth to undertake a PhD in tropical plant pathology. Following this, he had postdoctoral positions at Glasgow (genetics of conidiation in Aspergillus nidulans) and Bangor (breeding for resistance to late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans) before returning as a lecturer to Aberystwyth.

The merging of BBSRC institutes led to the transfer of Mike Theodorou, Dave Davies and others from Hurley (near London) to the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) near Aberystwyth. This presented an opportunity to re-engage with anaerobic fungi, initially through joint supervision of a PhD student: Emin Ozkose. It was as part of Emin’s work that the famously unpronouncable Cyllamyces aberensis was discovered, as well as the formation of aerotolerant spores by these fungi, and initial investigations of how the different species of anaerobic fungi might occupy different ecological niches within the rumen.

(From left to right) Dr Gareth Griffith pictured with Prof Alison Kingston-Smith, Dr Tony Callaghan and Prof Sharon Huws on the occasion of Tony Callaghan’s PhD graduation.

Some years later, after Joan Edwards joined IGER (N.B. IGER merged into IBERS in 2008), Gareth returned to the study of anaerobic fungi via a second co-supervised student: Tony Callaghan. From Tony’s work emerged a second new genus Buwchfawromyces eastonii (also hard to pronounce to the uninitiated!). Several new collaborations with Anil Puniya and Sumit Dagar in India, Veronika Dolhofer (now Flad) and Michael Lebuhn at Freising, Mostafa Elshahed and Noha Youseff in Oklahoma, as well as Sabine Podmirseg, Heribert Insam and their colleagues in Innsbruck led to the discovery of ten more genera of anaerobic fungi, bringing the total number of characterized anaerobic fungal genera now up to eighteen. Within Gareth’s research group in Aberystwyth, anaerobic fungal research actively continues with two current PhD students: Beca Evans (@beca_evans) and Nicola McElhinny (@Nicola_McE).

You can find out more about Gareth’s research via ResearchGate, and also follow him on Twitter (@AberMycol).