4 Dec 2020 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

This will be a digital event held on Zoom.

Presenter: Miao Liu (Ottawa Research and Development Center, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Fungal species in genus Claviceps infect various crops and grasses, producing ergot — the hard, dark resting body toxic to humans and animals. Accidental ingestion of a large amount, or continuing consumption of small amount over a long period of time, causes a syndrome known as ergotism. Historically, large epidemics of ergotism occurred where rye, the most susceptible crop, was planted as a staple food, and claimed uncountable lives. Despite the tragic stories, ergots were appreciated in ancient mystic rites due to their hallucinogenic features. Furthermore, folk physicians used ergot to help childbirth and to treat excessive bleeding. To date, the investigation of their chemical compositions and functions discovered bountiful beneficial pharmaceutical uses for treatment of stubborn diseases, i.e. hypertension, migraines, Parkinsonism, and reproductive disorders.

The cousin species in a sister genus Epichloë spend most of their life time inside of cool-season grasses and produce a different spectrum of toxins that prove to be beneficial to their hosts by providing the grasses with increased tolerance and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. However, livestock grazing on the grasses containing these endophytes could be tormented by ergotisms, and economic losses are incurred.

Understanding the genetic diversity of these toxin producing fungi allows us to mitigate their toxic effects on humans and livestock, and take advantage of their beneficial features.

Registration: Pre-registration is mandatory and participants must be OFNC members. To register for this event and to get your Zoom link, write to Joan Heyding at:

ljheyding [at] gmail.com

Please include the title of the presentation.