Dr Irina Druzhinina

Senior Research Leader

Irina Druzhinina

Accelerated Taxonomy


Fungal Diversity and Systematics


Fungal taxonomy and diversity; fitness and ecology; genomics and molecular evolution; horizontal gene transfer and mycoparasitism; fungal surface-active proteins; hydrophobins; cerato-platanins and other SSCPs; applied mycology; biological degradation of synthetic polymers by microbial consortia; trichoderma, environmental opportunism in Hypocreales and other groups; microbial ecophysiology and phenotyping; biological control of fungal pests and biological degradation of plastics; tropical ecology and Bornean exploding ants; molecular identification and DNA Barcoding.

I obtained my master (1998) and doctoral (2001) degrees in botany and classical mycology at the University of Vienna, Austria. Shortly after, I joined the Vienna University of Technology (Austria), where I defended my Habilitation Thesis on Microbiology (2011) and later obtained a tenured position of Associate Professor at the Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Biological Engineering (ICEBE). Since 2002 my Research Group, "Microbiology and Fungal Genomics," studied taxonomy, molecular evolution, ecophysiology, and ecological genomics of industrially relevant fungi, particularly from the order Hypocreales and the genus Trichoderma.

In 2018, I was appointed a Full Professor at the Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China. In this school, I continued researching ecological genomics of fungi, fungal–fungal interactions, mycoparasitism, and the role of surface-active proteins in fungal physiology and development.

In the RBG Kew, I aim to fuse my experience in applied microbiology and biotechnology with knowledge in fungal systematics and evolution for the acceleration of our understanding of fungal biology and the prediction of valuable and potentially hazardous traits of common and rare fungi around and the improved conservation of fungal diversity and ecosystems.

I am a member of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Fungi (ICTF, IUMS), the chair of the International Committee of Trichoderma Taxonomy (ICTT), and an editor in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM) journal and several other scientific journals.


  • Senior Research Leader – Fungal Diversity & Systematics, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew
  • Guest Professor, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China
  • Head of the International Committee of Trichoderma Taxonomy www.trichoderma.info (ICTT)
  • Coordinator and co-PI of the Trichoderma whole genus genomics project, JGI DOE, Berkeley, USA

Previous positions

  • Professor (Full), Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China
  • Associate Professor (Laufbahnstelle), Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), Vienna, Austria


  • Editor, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM), ASM
  • Editor (SI) and Editorial Board Member, Journal of Fungi (JoF), MDPI
  • Editor (SI), Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier
  • Editor Associate, Mycoasia
  • Editorial Board Member, Fungal Biology and Biotechnology, BMC
  • Editorial Board Member, iMeta, Wiley


  • Habilitation (Priv. Doz.), Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien), Austria (2011)
  • Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.), University of Vienna, Austria (2001)
  • Master degree (Mag. rer. nat.), University of Vienna, Austria (1998)

A full CV is available on www.fungig.org.

Cai, F. & Druzhinina, I.S. (2021)

In honor of John Bissett: Authoritative guidelines on molecular identification of Trichoderma.

Fungal Diversity 107: 1–69 

Cai, F., Zhao, Z., Gao, R., et al. (incl. Druzhinina, I.S.) (2021)

The pleiotropic functions of Intracellular hydrophobins in aerial hyphae and fungal spores.

PLoS Genet 17: e1009924.

Chen, S., Daly, P., Zhou, D., et al. (incl. Druzhinina, I.S.) (2022)

Engineering microbial agents for biological control of plant diseases caused by Pythium: recent achievements versus challenges.

Fungal Biology Reviews (accepted).

Yuan, Z., Druzhinina, I.S., Gibbons, J.G. et al. (2021)

Divergence of a genomic island leads to the evolution of melanization in a halophyte root fungus.

The ISME Journal 15: 3468–3479.

Cai, F., Gao, R., Zhao, Z., et al. (incl. Druzhinina, I.S.) (2020)

Evolutionary compromises in fungal fitness: hydrophobins can hinder the adverse dispersal of conidiospores and challenge their survival.

The ISME Journal 14: 2610-2624.

Kubicek, C.P., Steindorff, A.S., Chenthamara, K., et al. (incl. Druzhinina, I.S.) (2019)

Evolution and comparative genomics of the most common Trichoderma species.

BMC Genomics 20:485.

Druzhinina, I.S., Seidl-Seiboth, V., Herrera-Estrella, A. et al. (2011)

Trichoderma: the genomics of opportunistic success.

Nature Reviews Microbiology 9:749-759.

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