On the third Tuesday of each month from September thru May, the Mycological Society of San Francisco has a General Meeting at the County Fair Building. Note: All regular General Meetings are open to the public. The highlight of each meeting is a speaker with slides on some aspect of mycology and mushrooming: ecology, taxonomy, mycophagy, sociology, etc. Before each meeting members bring collections which are put on display and identified. Refreshments are served before the meeting. Doors open and identification starts at 7 pm and the meeting starts at 8 pm. (The December meeting is replaced by a dinner at a different location.)
Colonies of the species Armillaria gallica— a “honey mushroom”—are among the largest and oldest organisms on the planet. Arising from a single mating event between two haploid mycelia, individuals of this species extend vast networks of mycelial cords, called “rhizomorphs”, across the forest floor, opportunistically infecting hardwood tree root systems. Armillaria species have caused billions of dollars in losses to the lumber industry, yet little is known about the growth dynamics of these fungi because of the cryptic nature of mycelium, which is hidden in the soil and in its food sources. Stefan Catona’s presentation will focus on the methods used to study these giants of the forest: to obtain pure cultures; grow them in vitro; differentiate between individuals of different species and between individuals of the same species, and map their territories using GPS and molecular techniques. Mr. Catona will also share some insight gleaned from his own research into the biogeography and unique life cycle of this truly humongous fungus.
Stefan Catona grew up in Ontario where he completed a Bachelor in science and a Master's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. He completed a Juris Doctor at the University of Alberta in 2015 and currently practices criminal law in Edmonton, Alberta. Stefan continues to be involved in mycological research independently, as well as through the Mycological Society of Alberta. In his free time, he enjoys songwriting, painting, and kickboxing.