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Bonjour de Nancy!

I have started my sabbatical in the laboratory of Francis Martin at INRA-Nancy. Things are going well but time is passing too quickly.  Elizabeth and I have settled into our apartment, a 2-bedroom flat, and have quickly adjusted to our European lifestyle.  Nancy is a small city with a historic square, Place Stanislas, which is a UNESCO world heritage site (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_Stanislas).  We have quickly learned the city and walk just about everywhere.  We are enjoying the French food and have quickly become regulars at our neighborhood boulangerie and boucherie; let’s hope the French Paradox works on visiting Americans.  

Everyone in the lab speaks English, but very few people in town do.  Our French is horrible, to say the least, but we are improving ever so slightly each day. We can read fairly well; the challenge is understanding the very fast French and the splicing of words together.  It has made for some interesting exchanges, but people really do appreciate the effort.  We seem to manage to conduct our business through some form of broken French and broken English. At the very least we are providing cheap entertainment to the people we interact with.  I’ll have to tell you about our experiences at the bank some day.

INRA is the French equivalent of the USDA and I am based at the center just outside of Nancy.  My host, Francis Martin, is Head of Lab of Excellence ARBRE UMR "Tree-Microbe Interactions”.  His lab does a lot of work on mycorrhizae and fungal-plant interactions.  Francis’ group is one of the World leaders in comparative and functional genomics of fungi and in particular mycorrhizae.  He and I have collaborated for a few years and this is great chance for use to work closely.  My big goal for this sabbatical is to produce the first big 1000 Fungal Genomes Project (1KFG) paper.  In addition to the 1KFG project, I am also learning some new techniques associated with the setup and design of microcosms for mycorrhizal synthesis and RNA-Seq experiments.  This will be a great technique to bring back to the lab at OSU.

That is all for now.  I hope that you all are having a great Fall term and we will see you in April.

Au Revoir.

Joey Spatafora

PS.  The photo is of a Boletus edulis, or cepes as they are called in France, that we collected.  Dinner was delicious!!