Tuula Niskanen

Research Leader, Mycology


Job title: 
Research Leader, Mycology
Identification and Naming
Foreign languages: 
Finnish, Swedish, Spanish (basic), French (very basic)


I am interested in the evolution and diversity of mushrooms with a special interest in Cortinarius, the largest genus of Agaricales, the gilled mushrooms. Studies using DNA sequence data have shown that the diversity of fungi far exceeds earlier expectations and many common species of macrofungi still remain to be described and named. Understanding the evolutionary history of fungi is important. It sets a base for further studies of diverse evolutionary questions. It also provides the means for better understanding the current diversity and distribution of the species.

An additional goal is to improve the sequence based identification of fungi. Since the diversity of fungi is high and identification based on morphology is challenging, sometimes even impossible, DNA sequences provide a faster and a more reliable way to identify fungi. A high quality barcoding database is essential for ecological, environmental or further taxonomic research. Once completed, it will create a solid base for future studies.


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • PhD, University of Helsinki, Finland, 2008
  • MSc, University of Helsinki, Finland, 2003


Selected publications: 

Niskanen, T., Liimatainen, K., Nuytinck, J. Kirk, P., Orijel, R., Norvell, L., Olariaga, I., Huhtinen, S., Kytovuori I., Ruotsalainen, J., Niemela, T., Ammirati, J., Tedersoo L, (2018). Identifying and naming the currently known diversity of the genus Hydnum with an emphasis on North American and European materials. Mycologia. DOI: 10.1080/00275514.2018.1477004

Niskanen, T., Douglas, B., Kirk, P., Crous, P., Lücking, R., Matheny, P.B., Cai, L., Hyde, K. & Cheek, M. (2018): New discoveries: Species of fungi described in 2017. In: K. J. Willis (ed.), State of the World’s Fungi. Report. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. pp. 18–23.

Liimatainen, K., Niskanen, T., Dima, B., Kytövuori, I., Ammirati, J.F. & Frøslev, T. (2014). The largest type study of Agaricales species to date: bringing identification and nomenclature of Phlegmacium (Cortinarius) into the DNA era. Persoonia 33: 98–140. DOI: 10.3767/003158514X684681

Schoch, C. et al. (including Niskanen, T.) (2014). Finding needles in haystacks: linking scientific names, reference specimens and molecular data for Fungi. Database 2014: 1–21. DOI: 10.1093/database/bau061.

Kõljalg, U. et al. (including Niskanen, T.) (2013). Towards a unified paradigm for sequence-based identification of Fungi. Molecular Ecology 22(21): 5271–5277. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12481.