by Amanda Bertholf // Spring 2011

FungusKevin McCluskey, Ph.D., knows his yeasts, molds and mushrooms, and the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) has taken notice. The UMKC School of Biological Sciences associate professor, who also serves as the curator of the Fungal Genetics Stock Center (FGSC), was elected to the WFCC Executive Board and is the only current board member representing the United States.

The board includes leading scientists from countries around the world, including Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Russia. “Being elected by my peers is a great honor and reinforces my commitment to working to develop culture collection resources in the U.S.,” he said. “It emphasizes that there’s value in working to bring together researchers from areas including genetics, plant pathology, mycology and industrial microbiology.”

McCluskey said that in this role, he will be part of a growing effort to establish a network of repositories available to researchers studying microbes associated with plants and the environment. Being on the WFCC executive board allows him to make an impact on that process. “I also hope to raise awareness of a number of issues, including barriers to open sharing of research materials as well as the impact of genetic engineering on collection biology and material transfers.”

The WFCC is a commission involved with the collection, authentication, maintenance and distribution of cultures of microorganisms and cultured cells. The group aims to promote and support the establishment of culture collections and related services, an information network between the collections and their users, and to ensure the long-term perpetuation of important collections.

Founded in 1960 at Dartmouth University, the FGSC is a collection of fungi research materials used for global research in genetics, cell biology, medicine and plant pathology. The center distributes materials to research laboratories across the globe. Since moving to UMKC in 2004, the FGSC has doubled in size and has distributed more than 360,000 cultures worldwide. “Because the FGSC distributes cultures to countries from South Africa to Iceland, UMKC gains significant international name recognition,” McCluskey said. In turn, the success of the FGSC attracts additional materials and attention.

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