Call for applications summer course “MYCOBLITZ aLab in Backpack” 2024

Background: The University of Parakou (Benin) via the Research Unit in Tropical Mycology and Plants – Soil Fungi Interactions (MyTIPS) and the University of Gent (Belgium), obtained a financial support from VLIR (Belgium) to carry out a project entitled “MYCOBLITZ: a Lab in Backpack”.

As part of this project, they are organizing a summer field course from July 06th to 20th, 2024 in Benin. A second course will be given one year later. The aim of the courses is to train 12 young West African scientists on rapid assessment of mycorrhizal fungi diversity using morphological and most recent molecular tools and methods. We will combine the long- standing mycological knowledge accumulated over many years, innovative science, societal needs and traditions to map the global mycodiversity in Soudanian woodlands. The practical organization of this summer course will consist of bringing miniaturized molecular equipment into the field, including the “Minion sequencer”, to train on all stages of biodiversity and bioinformatic analysis in order to make them ideal ambassadors for the conservation and sustainable management of forest resources in their respective countries. The 2025 edition will focus on how to extract environmental DNA from soil samples and root tips. This training will help to elucidate the diversity of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil, to detect gaps compared to fruiting bodies-based surveys, to identify the forests sheltering the most vulnerable species, but also to assess the evolution of the composition of fungal species in the face of climate change. The training is directly linked to SDG 15 (Life on Land), which protects and promotes the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable forest management, fights desertification, reverses land degradation and halts the loss of biodiversity.

Qualifications required to participate in this summer course: Based in Benin in the Wari- Maro and Ouémé Supérieur forest reserves, this training is open to young West African scientists with the following requirements: (i) The candidates must hold a MSc in the field of natural sciences, biology, agriculture, mycology, forestry sciences, botany or other affiliated disciplines; PhD candidates, PhD students and postdocs are welcome; (ii) have a minimum of 2 years of professional experience; (iii) be very familiar with microscopic works, molecular tools and techniques/methods (as evidenced by your publication list); (iv) familiarity with tropical fungi and mycorrhizal studies is a great advantage and (v) being available in July 2024 and July 2025.

Application procedure: Application documents, in English, must include: (i) a cover letter, (ii) a complete CV (with a list of your publications or a link to view them), (iii) certified copies of the certificates, (iv) certificates or testimonials of your professional experience and/or your motivation, (v) proof of proficiency in English, (vi) the names and contact details of two independent references.

Send your application document in a single PDF file (titled as such: your Name and First Name-Bio Mycoblitz Summer Course) to Prof. Nourou S. Yorou (Faculty of Agronomy, University of Parakou, Benin), email: n.s.yorou@gmail.com and mycoblitzBenin@gmail.com, no later than January 31st, 2024.

Selected applicants will receive email notifications between February 15th, 2024.

Successful applicants will receive full support, including a return economic air ticket, accommodation (hotel + restauration), and training fees.

You are invited to apply and discover the extraordinary world of fungi in Benin. We want to train you as an ambassador for integrative fungal taxonomy in your own country