Fungal Diversity and Systematics

We classify, describe and name all fungi but focus on British and Malagasy taxa and Cortinariaceae.

Auricularia auricula-judae aka jelly ear fungus growing on a tree

Team lead: Dr Tuula Niskanen

The majority of the world’s fungi are still unknown. We study the diversity and evolution of selected groups using the latest technologies.

Current target groups include: British taxa, Malagasy taxa and family Cortinariaceae but we also contribute to the study of Colombian fungi. Using the whole genome sequence data we are studying the evolution of Agaricales within the Plant and Fungal Tress of Life project.  

Since 20015, we have maintained the online Checklist of the British and Irish Basidiomycota, with volunteer help, adding over 25 species per annum and reclassifying many others. We are working on a DNA-verified catalogue of British basidiomycete fungi. Our team has a special interest in the taxonomic resolution of fungal groups of conservation concern, such as, waxcaps (Hygrocybe s.l.).  We are also developing the E-Mycota Fungi and Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland.

Very few fungi are even acknowledged as important components of the world’s biodiversity and ecosystems. This imbalance is something we address by our taxonomic studies, participation in global and regional assessments (red-listing) and in designation of protected sites. 

Working with volunteers and contributors, the Lost and Found Fungi project improves baseline distribution knowledge of 100 species of potential conservation concern in the UK, while also developing conservation engagement and skills within the recording community.

We are also responsible for the curation and metadata capture of historical material in our Fungarium, the largest collection of dried fungi in the world containing over 50,000 type specimens. Our curation efforts focus on updating electronic datasets such as HerbIMI and the Kew Mycology Collection as well as the physical updating of the collections.

Team members

Senior research leader
Dr Tuula Niskanen

Senior Research Leader
Dr Irina Druzhinina

Senior research leader
Dr Paul Cannon

Research leaders
Dr Martyn Ainsworth

Research fellow
Dr Kare Liimatainen

Fungal DNA Curator
Alyona Biketova

PhD student
Anna Ralaiveloarisoa