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U of A Biologist Publishes Three New Books on Slime Molds, Mushrooms

Steve Stephenson, a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently co-authored or co-edited three books on myxomycetes and mushroom hunting

Myxomycetes, also known as slime molds, are found in every terrestrial habitat. They feed on the microorganisms associated with dead plant material, especially bacteria and fungi, play an important role in ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling and are commonly found in soil and on dead wood and forest floor leaf litter. Stephenson has traveled to all seven continents cataloging and studying myxomycetes, fungus-like organisms which are neither plant nor animal yet share characteristics of both. His research has been supported by a number of funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. He is author or coauthor of eleven different books and more than 360 book chapters and papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Mushrooms of the Southeast (Timber Press) will be published in January, 2018. It is an illustrated field guide to 400 types of mushrooms found in 14 states from Delaware to Arkansas. It includes information on where and how to find mushrooms, an overview of fungus ecology and how to avoid mushroom poisoning. It is co-authored by Todd. F. Elliot, a freelance naturalist, biologist, photographer and forager.

Myxomycetes of Vietnam (Vietnam National University) is the first field guide to myxomycetes published in Southeast Asia, and the text is in both English and Vietnamese. Although based on myxomycetes in Vietnam, the book would also be useful in other areas of Southeast Asia. It was co-written with Hanh Tran and Yuri Novozhilov. Tran is a professor in the School of Biotechnology of Ho Chi Minh International University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, while Novozhilov is a research scientist in the Laboratory of Systematics and Geography of Fungi of the Komarov Botanical Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tran was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Arkansas during the 2011-2012 academic year and returned for a year-long visit (funded by an international fellowship from the American Association of University Women) in 2014. Novozhilov and Stephenson have worked together on numerous research projects over a period of more than two decades.

Myxomycetes: Biology, Systematics, Biogeography, and Ecology (Academic Press), was published in August. It is a comprehensive overview written in a simple, concise relatively non-technical style aimed at a general readership within the biological, environmental and life science programs at academic and research institutions. The broad scope of the book extends from a consideration of the distribution and ecology of these organisms in nature to the recent advances in understanding their genetics and molecular phylogeny. The book also touches on the potential for basic and applied research on myxomycetes in areas as diverse as biological monitoring and robotics. Stephenson co-edited the book with Carlos Rojas, a professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at the University of Costa Rica. Rojas received his Ph.D. from the University of Costa Rica in 2010, where Stephenson served as his major professor.

About The Author

Bob Whitby writes about bioscience, geoscience, physics, space and planetary sciences, psychology and sociology. Reach him at 479-575-4737, or whitby@uark.edu.

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