Industrial doctorate student Carlos Castaño explains his experience in Sweden thanks to the mobility fund

First-year doctorate period abroad: Uppsala (Sweden)

My name is Carles Castaño and I’m studying my industrial doctorate in Fungal Ecology and researching new applications to study the production of edible fungi and improve detection.  My first trip abroad as an industrial doctorand was to Uppsala (Sweden), specifically, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.  The reason for the trip was to carry out some of the laboratory work to write my thesis, as this is a renowned centre in my field.  The work was done under the supervision of Professor Björn Lindahl, an expert in fungus molecular ecology.  Professor Lindahl is the supervisor of a research group at the university, which is studying the role of fungi in the carbon and nitrogen cycle, and the relationship between forest fungi and its productivity in forests, among other things.  The aim of the six months in Uppsala was to study the fungus communities in the forest floor in the permanent plots of land that the research group, headed by Professor José Antonio Bonet, of the University of Lleida, and the company Forest Bioengineering Solutions, SA, have in the Poblet Natural Site of National Interest.  This work consists of preparing the soil samples obtained and isolating the fungal DNA sequences.  By extraction, amplification and purification of the samples, we sequenced this DNA en masse and obtained a total of 800,000 sequences.  The bioinformatics analysis of the data was made possible thanks to Professor Lindahl and the department’s bioinformatics team, using the bioinformatics analysis platform developed by the group.  Thanks to the trip, we have started writing up the results and can advance in our capacity to detect and predict edible and threatened fungi, and study which factors explain the distribution of forest fungi and which ones threaten their survival.

One of the most surprising features of the Mycology and Plant Pathology Department at this university is its organisation and the large number of doctorate researchers and students working there.  These means they can fully optimise their resources and organise their work better.  For this reason, the chance to work at this laboratory means I’ve been able to obtain most of the laboratory data in just a few months.  This in turn has meant we can start work on joint projects with the University of Lleida and establish synergies in working together on new studies.

The trip meant I could make very significant progress for me in my thesis, as well as providing new opportunities for collaboration and study.  Although it is colder in winter and there is less sunlight, it also has its positive side.


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