The opening of the new Mycology Building earlier this year maintains a long tradition of research into the kingdom Mycota (Fungi) at Kew and provides a firm base for continued expansion well into the next century.

Building for the future

Following years of limited space availability, the Mycology Section has taken over a building adjacent to the Herbarium vacated by the CABI International Mycological Institute. The building underwent major structural alterations and extensive refurbishment before it became available in January 1994. By the end of February, the Herbarium mycologists had completed moving the collections, equipment and offices.

The new building houses the mycological herbarium, reference library and a fully-equipped suite of laboratories. The previously dispersed herbarium collections have now been brought together under one roof, recurated to reflect current phyletic thinking, and stored on purpose-built compactor shelving. With over 700,000 specimens, including many thousands of 'type specimens', it is one of the largest and most important reference collections of fungi in the world. It is proposed to prepare a database of all the type and authentic collections, with a view to making the information available world-wide through Internet.

The library has been reorganised on a geographical basis and there are separate rooms for illustrations, reprints and the library of the British Mycological Society. The laboratories will enable living material to be cultured; work on temperate and tropical wood-rotting fungi is underway and further research on the order Ceratobasidiales, which contains many well-known plant pathogens, is about to begin.

With their programme of existing and future projects, plus the new building to house them, Dr David Pegler and his colleagues, Dr Brian Spooner, Peter Roberts, Gill Butterfill and Dominic Hilton, are confident of maintain ing Kew's international reputation as a leading centre for mycological research.

Contact: Dr David Pegler (0181-332 5257)

Email: David Pegler

New Classification for Higher Fungi

At the 5th International Mycological Congress in Vancouver (14-20 August 1994), Dr David Pegler proposed a new general purpose classification of the Basidiomycotina, the subdivision of fungi (referred to in the past as 'basidiomycetes') containing the mushrooms and toadstools, bracket fungi, puffballs, and jelly-fungi This is based on ultrastructural differences in the apparatus of the hyphal septum, upon which three classes, Basidiomycetes, Teliomycetes and Ustomycetes, are proposed. The Basidiomycotina may now be divided into 44 orders and 162 families. The classification will be utilized early next year in the new 8th edition of Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of Fungi.

Action for British Fungi

The biodiversity of fungi in Britain is still incompletely understood. Kew holds the British national mycological collections and a major part of the Mycology Section's remit concerns taxonomic studies of British mycota. Current work includes the 'Ascomycetes of Great Britain & Ireland' project that will produce a critical survey of, and an identification guide to, over 5,000 species of native non-lichenized ascomycetes. The project, financed by NERC, is being undertaken jointly with the Liverpool John Moores University and the CABI International Mycological Institute. Dr Brian Spooner is the chief investigator at Kew, and the project's research assistant, Dr Yi-Jian Yao, is based full-time in the Section. A further project has been proposed to establish a UK national database and reference checklist for the Basidiomycotina in co-operation with the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Already completed is a revised account of the British gasteroid fungi ('gasteromycetes'), Puffballs, Earthstars, and Stinkhorns (by D.N. Pegler, B.M. Spooner and T. Laessøe) which will appear in book form as a Kew publication. These projects on British fungi will provide a substantial input into the UK contribution to Agenda 21 of the Biodiversity Convention.

Above: Gymnopilus junonius: a common British basidiomycete.

Contact: Dr Brian Spooner (0181-332 5256)

Email: Brian Spooner

Return to Opening Page