Cooperation not toxicity attracts Anne Pringle, an associate professor of botany and bacteriology, to the study of Amanita phalloides, or the death cap mushroom. Fungi as a group are poorly known, says Pringle, who was an associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University before coming to Wisconsin. “The fungi are basically a jungle of species. There are an estimated one to 10 million species, and we have names for 100,000, which suggests how little we know. You can go outside and pick up some soil, put it in a gene sequencer, and you will see a heck of a lot of species that do not match anything seen before.”
The Pringle laboratory focuses on the biology of species whose life histories and body plans seem very different from our own. Fungi encompass a hetereogeneous array of both microbes and macrobes, and the Pringle laboratory uses fungi as tools to test and elucidate general principles of ecology and evolution.