Dr David Moore (BSc, PhD, DSc, FLS) - Biography and personal details

David Moore, BSc, PhD, DSc, FLS, served as Reader in Genetics in the Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Manchester. He was born in Liverpool (1st March 1942) but has lived in south Manchester since 1966. Today, he lives in Stockport with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughters Becky (with husband Barney and children Sam and Emily) and Sophie (with husband Richard and twins Freya and Chloe). His youngest daughter Amy lives with partner Ross in Warwick.

My first degree was a 1st Class Joint Honours in Botany and Zoology at the University of Hull in 1963. I trace my interest in fungal physiology to Noel Robertson's stimulating lectures there. My PhD topic dealt with mutant isolation and linkage mapping in the ink-cap mushroom then called Coprinus cinereus (recently renamed Coprinopsis cinerea) and part of my research for it was carried out in the John Innes Institute (which was then located at Bayfordbury in Hertfordshire) where John Fincham and Robin Holliday further influenced an impressionable postgraduate.

After graduation I moved to an Assistant Lectureship in Genetics at the University of Manchester in 1966 (and continued to serve that University for the next 43 years). With a free choice of research topics I decided to study the biochemical genetics of carbohydrate metabolism and started by isolating many hundreds of mutants of C. cinerea which were resistant to growth inhibition by chemical analogues of glucose and fructose. Subsequent research on these inhibitors covered aspects as diverse as:

  • the morphological changes caused by paramorphogens,
  • detailed kinetic analysis of sugar transport,
  • and, since most of the mutants turned out to be alleles of a single gene, fine structure gene-mapping
  • and theoretical considerations of recombination mechanisms.

The morphogenetic effects of these inhibitors directed my attention to hyphal differentiation and development and my research began to emphasise the experimental study of the developmental biology of mushrooms including genetical, biochemical, physiological and microscopical (including ultra-structural), and ultimately molecular analyses of how tissues are constructed and assembled in fungi.

I was elected to serve on Council of the British Mycological Society for 1981-84, and during that time served on the Physiology Special Interest Committee. Then from 1984-89 I was Programme Secretary for the Society, responsible for co-ordinating the Society's programme of meetings and other events. I also became involved in the publishing and editorial administration of the Society, being Scientific Editor of BMS Symposium Volumes 10 (1985) and 12 (1987) and Production Manager for Volumes 15 (1989) to 19 (1993) inclusive which the Society produced and published for itself. I served as Executive Editor of the journal Mycological Research (now called Fungal Biology) from January, 1990 to December 1999.

I was elected President of the British Mycological Society for 1997 and subsequently became Membership Secretary (2000 to 2003) during which time I helped create the BMS website and was awarded the British Mycological Society’s Benefactors Medal 'for services to mycology' in December 2003.

In the early years of the 21st century I headed the British Mycological Society's (BMS) reaction to the decline in teaching of its science (and, incidentally, the absence of any mention of fungi in the UK National Curriculum for schools) by engaging with the public directly to advance awareness of the role of fungi in everyday life. To this end the BMS Roadshow was developed as a mobile display that travelled around the country to promote mycology to the general public. Fungus models and live fungi (as the season permitted) attracted the public to the display. Once snared by this attraction the visitor was shown (in display posters) the whole range of fungal science, supermarket biotechnology, garden biodiversity, impact on health, and all the rest. We took care to ensure that the content of the Roadshow addressed the entire span of human existence, from breakfast to supper; from food to pharmaceutical; from habitat to household. By showing how much we all depend on fungi, the BMS Roadshow made the links between science, its practical application and its relevance to daily life. Eventually, the BMS Roadshow comprised an exhibition of over 20 square metres of mobile display boards, educational models, posters, booklets, leaflets, with a staff of enthusiastic volunteers that travelled around the UK.

We contributed events to a total of 34 events, including National Science Week, several Excellence in Cities programmes, and Science Fairs and Festivals. The backbone of the Roadshow calendar, though, was the Royal Horticultural Society's Flower Show programme. The BMS contributed displays to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for several years, but the BMS Roadshow exhibited at RHS shows around the country, appearing at the Tatton Park Flower Show in July, the Malvern Spring Gardening Show in May, and Malvern Autumn Garden and Country Show towards the end of September. Our displays always attracted enormous public interest. In July 2004 (the first time it was submitted for judging) the BMS Roadshow was awarded a Silver-Gilt Lindley Medal at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, and success continued with a Gold Medal at the Malvern Autumn Garden and Country Show in 2004, a Silver-Gilt at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show 2005, Gold at both Tatton Park 2005 and the Malvern Autumn Show 2005, and Silver at the Chelsea Flower Show 2006. The total ''through the turnstile'' audience of all these shows totals something like one million people and even if only a small fraction of that total stops at our displays, then we communicatied awareness of fungal biology to a crowd that would fill a Premiership football stadium! That's an audience that few other academics can claim.

I also have interests in gravitational biology which arose from one of those 'twists of fate' stories. Early in the afternoon of 26 June 1989 I received a telephone call from Dr Greg Briarty of the University of Nottingham asking if I might be interested in suggesting mycological projects for inclusion in the Juno space mission. At the time, I had already developed interests in mushroom (especially Coprinus) developmental biology, but had not thought very seriously about the part that gravity might play in cell biology or development. The phone call spurred that interest and I was quickly able to assemble a proposal.

The project was accepted as one of the 26 experiments to be done on the Juno flight. Helen Sharman eventually flew the eight-day mission to the Soviet orbital complex Mir in 1991, but by that time the scientific hopes of the Juno Mission had been dashed by lack of sponsorship funding. Unfortunately for Juno, like other attempts to put British science into orbit, it felt the kiss of death of a 1989 report to the ruling Science and Engineering Research Council which concluded that there is 'no strong case for becoming seriously involved [in microgravity research].'

British fungi stayed on the ground, but they did contribute to a healthy amount of research on gravitropism. The sorts of experiments which had been planned for Juno were carried out by Berthold Hock's group in Wiehenstephan during the first German-financed Shuttle mission. Most of the results to date were summarised in a review in Mycological Research (1996, 100: 257-273). Along the way, I became a member of the European Space Agency's Life Science Working Group and he was commissioned to edit the report of this group for publication [Moore, D., Bie, P. & Oser, H. (1996): Biological and Medical Research in Space; An Overview of Life Sciences Research in Microgravity. Springer-Verlag: Berlin, Heidelberg & New York (569 pp.) which was republished in softcover format in 2012].

Fungi are not just some peculiar kind of plant, but a Kingdom of eukaryotes in their own right. My research interests revolve around their developmental biology, with emphasis on the cell biology, physiology and genetics of mushroom morphogenesis and the genetics of cultivated mushrooms. Details of my research can be found elsewhere on this website.

Most work has been done with the field mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea, but at various times we have also worked with cultivated species like the button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), paddy-straw mushrooms (Volvariella volvacea and V. bombycina), and oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.), among others. Much of the research has been aimed at the experimental study of fungal developmental biology. Emphasis was given to devising experimental methods permitting detailed analysis of the control of cell differentiation and tissue morphogenesis in higher fungi. Techniques pioneered include

  • in vitro organ cultures of mushroom tissues [EXAMPLE];
  • use of computer-aided image analysis and numerical analytical methods to study developmental dynamics [EXAMPLE];
  • extraction of growth factors and hormones.

Experimental research is directed towards establishing where morphogenetic pattern-forming signals originate, their nature, translocation routes, targets and pattern-forming response pathways. I also researched what happens when differentiated fungal tissues are removed from their growth control factors experimentally (when they regenerate vegetative hyphal tips), the part played by programmed cell death in fungal morphogenesis, and the extracellular matrix which is formed in and around fungal tissues.

We have also studied:

  • the effects of metals on fungal morphogenesis [EXAMPLE];
  • biodiversity of shiitake (Lentinula) in the wild and in strains used for cultivation [EXAMPLE];
  • the use of mushrooms and mushroom composts for pollutant degradation [EXAMPLE].

Novel approaches for application of 3-D computer graphics to the visualisation of confocal microscope images were used to visualise the hyphal branching patterns and hyphal interactions that occur as fungal tissues differentiate. We then devised mathematical models of the processes that lead to fungal morphogenesis, and created life-like computer simulations [EXAMPLES]. Most recently we completed a comprehensive comparative analysis of all available fungal, animal and plant genomes for the occurrence of developmental gene sequences [EXAMPLE]. Using automated web-agents, over half a million similarity searches were completed in this study, which revealed that there is no molecular similarity between the developmental regulators that control multicellular development in fungi, plants or animals.

Since retirement from the University of Manchester in 2009 I have concentrated on writing. So far this has resulted in:

  • Our textbook of general fungal biology: Moore, D., Robson, G.D. & Trinci, A.P.J. (2011). 21st Century Guidebook to Fungi. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780521186957;
  • my account about the origin of life on Earth: Moore, D. (2013). Fungal Biology in the Origin and Emergence of Life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 230 pp. ISBN-10: 1107652774, ISBN-13: 978-1107652774.
  • and my autobiographical account of my 50-year research career: Moore, D. (2013). Coprinopsis: an autobiography. Moore, D. (2013). Coprinopsis: an autobiography. Published on the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 216 pp. ISBN-10: 1482618974; ISBN-13: 978-1482618976. Visit the Amazon page, or the Distribly page.


I am still writing!

Updated December 7, 2016