Merger creates largest Fungarium in the world at Kew

Two of the most extensive collections of dried fungus specimens, those at Kew and CABI (IMI), have been combined to create a fungarium at Kew holding around 1.25 million specimens.

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30 Sep 2010

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Fungarium at Kew

One aisle of Kew’s fungarium (Image: RBG Kew)

The fungaria (dried fungus collections) of CABI (IMI) and Kew (K(M)), are two of the most extensive in the world. Following an agreement to co-locate these collections, the IMI holdings were transferred to Kew in December 2009. Two of CABI’s mycologists, Paul Cannon and Paul Kirk, are part of this merger and are now based at Kew. The merger was supported by Defra and ensures continued support for fungal systematics and conservation worldwide – fundamental aspects of Kew’s Breathing Planet Programme.

Specimens of Darwin and Flemming

The Kew fungarium of around 850,000 specimens was initiated in 1879 and it is rich in historically important collections, including those of Charles Darwin. It is continuously growing, with several thousand collections received annually from around the world. The IMI fungarium, with around 400,000 specimens, is highly complementary to the Kew collection, focusing on fungi of economic importance. Amongst its most famous specimens is a dried culture of the original strain of Penicillium notatum used by Alexander Fleming during his discovery of penicillin.

Details on-line

Each collection will maintain its historical accession numbers to ensure that references to published specimens can be matched to the samples themselves. Details of the IMI collections can be viewed on the internet and eventually the entire collection will be databased to increase its global accessibility to mycologists. The combined holdings of around 1.25 million specimens, including 45,000 types, must constitute the largest and most scientifically valuable fungus collection in the world. It remains a publically accessible resource, underpinning all mycological research on a global basis. 


Item from Dr Brian Spooner (Head of Mycology, Kew)

Originally published in Kew Scientist 37 

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1 comment on 'Merger creates largest Fungarium in the world at Kew'

Ghislain- Firmain says

01/10/2010 10:15:27 AM | Report abuse

Mergers are the best possible solution for the sustainability of the planet’s rich biodiversity.

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