- Open Access
Awards and Personalia
IMA Fungus volume 5, pages A11–A15 (2014)
CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre Awards
On the second day of the “Genera and Genomes” symposium in Amsterdam on Friday 25 April 2014, the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre presented its two prestigious awards. The awards are made at irregular intervals by the institute following discussions by its senior staff. This is the fifth time these awards have been made, and the citations were read, and the presentation of certificates made, by the Centre’s Director, Pedro W. Crous.
Johanna Westerdijk Award: Jens Frisvad
Awarded on special occasions to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the culture collection of the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre, marking a distinguished career in mycology. Nominees for the award will be evaluated on the basis of quality, originality, and quantity of their contributions to the collection, and on the basis of associated mycological research in general.
The name Jens Frisvad is synonymous with secondary products of fungi, or as he would say, extrolites. In almost all cases where we know about the secondary metabolites or extrolites of fungi, Frisvad has been there. However, there is more to Frisvad than extralites. His expertise extends to fungal ecology, fungal taxonomy, food quality and safety, and biomass conversion for chemical production. Jens has made major contributions to ecology, especially revealing the role that penicillia play in the indoor environment. With this breadth it is no surprise that Frisvad has collaborated on international projects supported by Danish, European, UK, and NIH and NSF grants. Among his 232 peer-reviewed publications is one that has been cited nearly 300 times and another 11 that have been cited more than 100 times. These numbers are dwarfed by those for the book that he, and several colleagues wrote on food and airborne fungi (Food and Indoor Fungi, 2010)— it is approaching 800 citations. As professor of systems biology at the Danish Technical University in Lyngby, he has mentored graduate students, and he has served our profession as an editor and editorial board member for several journals. He has also served mycology through his efforts to maintain and expand the IBT fungal culture collection of the Danish Technical University (DTU), many strains from which were also deposited at CBS. These cultures provide a living resource for future generations of mycologists to restudy with the gold standard techniques of the day.
Josef Adolf von Arx Award: Harry C. Evans and Amy Y. Rossman
Awarded on special occasions to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to taxonomic research of fungal biodiversity, marking a distinguished career in mycology. Nominees for the award will be evaluated on the basis of quality, originality, and quantity of their contributions in the field of fungal taxonomy.
In 2014 the award was made to two very special candidates.
Harry C. Evans
Harry C. Evans has more than 30 years’ experience in disease identification and management in tropical agriculture and forestry. Throughout his career he has written and published over 200 scientific papers on plant and insect pathology, including a standard reference book. He was based at the International (then Commonwealth) Mycological Institute in Kew from 1980–84, working as a tropical plant pathologist, before transferring to the Commonwealth (later International) Institute of Biological Control in Ascot. As those institutes were transformed into CAB International Biosciences (UK) at Egham, he became responsible for initiating and co-ordinating research projects on the use of fungi for the biological control of weeds. Harry is a member of a number of professional organisations including the British Mycological Society, British Society of Plant Pathology, British Ecological Society. He is also a member of the editorial board for the International Journal of Pest Management and Micologia Mexicana Applicata.
Harry has collaborated for many years with CBS, particularly with respect to entomogenous fungi, which are his first and enduring mycological love. This has never been the primary subject for his official scientific research, but Harry started to become fascinated by these fungi when undertaking research on cocoa diseases in Ghana in the 1970s. Harry published numerous papers on entomogenous fungi and the book Atlas of Entomogenous Fungi, prepared together with Rob A. Samson and Jean-Paul Latgé in 1988, has more than 350 citations and remains a classic work in the field. His skills for collecting fungi on insects are unique and legendary, and he can spend numerous hours on his knees in the rainforests in Africa and South America to discover numerous pathogens in only one square metre of ground!
Amy Y. Rossman
Amy Rossman was the Research Leader at the Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory and Director of the US National Fungus Collections (BPI) at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, MD until the end of May 2014. Her major achievements include the transformation of the US National Fungus Collections into a modern “e-herbarium”, transformation of the laboratory under her leadership, and expansion of the number of research positions: Amy has pushed for new positions in the systematics of smut fungi, as well as a new ARS position, with a new molecular lab and a technician. As Research Leader at SBML, Amy envisioned, championed, and obtained financial support for preparation of bibliographic works that are now standard. These include A Literature Guide for the Identification of Plant Pathogenic Fungi (1987, an APS Press bestseller), and the monumental work, Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States (1989, now with more than 1500 citations). Under Amy’s influence, information about plants and plant diseases can be obtained free from BPI’s specimen and literature databases at https://doi.org/nt.ars-grin.gov/. These initiatives improved accessibility to real, useful bibliographic information for all.
Amy is a tireless advocate for the importance of fungi in agriculture, the environment, and in the study of ecosystems. She has steadfastly campaigned for the importance of fungi with politicians and high-level USDA policy makers. She has an outstanding record of biosystematics research. Her lifelong scientific passion has been the systematics of Hypocreaceae. She has produced substantial taxonomic monographs of Calonectria, Nectria, the bitunicate “Hypocreales” and Tubeufia, to name but a few. Her most significant taxonomic publication to date is Genera of Bionectriaceae, Hypocreaceae, and Nectriaceae (Hypocreales, Ascomycetes), published by CBS in 2001, and which has been cited more than 300 times. She has also played a major role in setting up lists of genera, and merging asexual and sexual nomenclature to obtain a new single nomenclature for fungi (see papers in this issue of IMA Fungus).
Internationally Amy has played a major role in the Mycological Society of America, as Treasurer, President, and as MSA representative to international organizations including the American Phytopathological Society and Association of Systematics Collections committees and boards. Amy has also proven to be an important mentor for students internationally, and remains a pillar of the mycological world.
We wish her well as she moves in her retirement from Maryland to her beloved Oregon.
Karl Esser’s 90th, 19 March 2014
Karl Esser, emeritus professor of General Botany and director of the Botanical Garden at the Ruhr-University Bochum, celebrated his 90th birthday on 19 March 2014. Karl Esser graduated from Cologne University with a PhD in 1952, and later worked in the Genetic Institute in Paris, the Botanical Institute in Cologne, and Yale University (CN), before taking up the chair of General Botany at the newly established Ruhr-University, becoming director of the Botanical Garden, one of the largest at a German university, in 1967. He retired from his position as a professor of Botany on 1 November 1989.
His scientific work focused on the genetics of plants and fungi. He recognized early in his career that fungi were ideal organisms to study genetics, and in 1965 published Genetik der Pilze (with R. Kuenen; translated into English as Genetics of Fungi in 1967). A pioneer of fungal genetics in Germany, he used filamentous fungi to investigate two basic phenomena of biology. Already in 1958 he set up a system to study ascoma development using Sordaria macrospora. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he focused his research work on senescence, using Podospora anserina. He was one of the first to detect plasmids in filamentous fungi, and his group published one of the first papers on the DNA-mediated transformation of filamentous fungi. He also wrote a much-used textbook, Kryptogamen 1 (1976, issued in English as Cryptogams, 1982), in which he compared the life-cycles, morphology and genetics of algae and fungi.
Karl Esser has a long and distinguished academic career in mycology, and was always interested in combining basic with applied research. This is reflected in his work to which he has devoted much of his energy in retirement, The Mycota, initiated with the late Paul A. Lemke in 1994 and now consisting of 14 multi-authored volumes, several of which have been updated as second editions, the latest appearing this Spring (see Book News in this issue of IMA Fungus).
Karl has an international outlook, and he was much involved with the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), including serving on its’ Executive. In 1987, Karl was made the President of the 14th International Botanical Congress in Berlin. He was appointed as one of the IMA Honorary Presidents at IMC4 in Regensburg in 1990, and has received numerous awards, including several honorary doctorates. The IMA is pleased to send its best wishes and thanks to him for all he has and is doing for mycology on the occasion of this special birthday.
[Partly based on material kindly provided by Ulrich Kück.]
Walter Gams’ 80th, 9 August 2014
During the 1970s, Walter Gams initiated a revolution in the identification of microscopic ascomycetes and zygomycetes with the publication of Pilze aus Agrarböden (1970, with K.H. Domsch; released in English as Fungi in Agricultural Soils in 1972), his monograph of Acremonium with a German title memorized by all students of hyphomycetes, Cephalosporiumartige Schimmelpilze (Hyphomycetes) published in 1971, and culminating in the publication of the classic Compendium of Soil Fungi (with K.H. Domsch and T.-H. Anderson, 1980; 2nd edn, 2007). Although best known for his work on hyphomycetes, Walter also produced seminal work on the zygomycete genus Mortierella. Although Fusarium was never a prime focus of his research, he served as the secretary of the ISPP/ ICTF International Subcommission on Fusarium Taxonomy and was the prime mover behind the curated list of described Fusarium names now incorporated into MycoBank. After his retirement from CBS, Walter continued to work and publish with diverse mycologists, resulting in productive collaborations with Rasoul Zare on Verticillium, and a major contribution to the seminal The Genera of Hyphomycetes in 2011 (with K.A. Seifert, G. Morgan-Jones, B. Kendrick). Walter mentored several generations of taxonomists and plant pathologists from all over the world, and hosted hundreds of visiting students, post-docs and scientists at his home in Baarn, The Netherlands, or in his vacation home in the castle of Bomarzo, Italy.
Lorna Ann Casselton (1938–2014)
Lorna Casselton, who died on 14 February 2014, was born Lorna A. Smith on 18 July 1938. Her parents ran a smallholding, and at an early age she became fascinated by planting and propagating, developing a passion for biology and genetics. She studied at University College London, gaining a PhD in 1964 for work on mating in Coprinopsis cinerea, a fungus with which her name will always be associated. Lorna was initially employed as a lecturer at what is now Royal Holloway University of London, before moving to Queen Mary College in that university, being made Professor of Genetics in 1989. She subsequently transferred to the University of Oxford where she remained for the rest of her career, being appointed Professor of Fungal Genetics in 1997.
Lorna and her students explored the genes at the mating-type loci in her model fungus, and found that the mating-type contained multiple genes, those of the A locus including two coding for proteins necessary for successful mating and involved in regulating the initiation of meiosis. Fascinatingly, the proteins concerned, termed homeodomain, are also involved in the ontogeny of animals (including humans) where they control where organs develop. In the case of the B locus, multiple genes that were involved in pheromone production were discovered and they needed to differ from those at the A locus for successful mating.
As a consequence of her meticulous work over many years, revealing how extraordinarily complex mating systems are in agarics, Lorna was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1999, a body with which she became much involved, first serving on the Council and then as Vice-President and Foreign Secretary in 2006–2011. She was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2012 for services to fungal genetics and international science.
Outside mycology, Lorna developed a passion for flying and qualified as a glider pilot. She was a Fellow of St Cross College Oxford from 1993–2003, and the College is raising funds for a Lorna Casselton Memorial Lecture which will bring an eminent scientist to Oxford each year to give a keynote address and present groundbreaking research in a biological subject. Further information and how to contribute is provided at https://doi.org/www/stx.oc.ac.uk/lorna-casselton-memorial.
Donald C. Erwin (1930–2014)
Plant pathologist Donald (‘Don’) Erwin, died on 22 February 2014 aged 93 years. He was born in Concord (NE) and grew up on a small farm, before attending Wayne State Teachers College from 1939–40. He served as a medical technician in the US Army from 1942–46, during which time he was based in Wales, before continuing his studies at the University of Nebraska, from which be obtained a master’s degree in plant pathology in 1950. He had investigated a root rot of safflower which he established to be caused by Phytophthora drechsleri. He continued to be fascinated by the genus for the rest of his life, earning a PhD from the University of California Davis in 1953, and being hired by the newly founded Citrus Experimental Station of that University at Riverside the same year. He rose through the ranks at what became the University of California Riverside, becoming Professor of Plant Pathology in 1966, and he remained there until his retirement in 1992.
His research on Phytophthora included the discovery of a previously unknown root disease of alfalfa caused by the species now known as P medicaginis, and he was involved in the development of resistant cultivars. Other diseases with which he was especially concerned included a root disease of flax involving a virus and Rhizoctonia solani, and verticillium-wilt of cotton due to Verticillium dalhliae. Wherever he travelled, he searched for sick plants, and endeavoured to ascertain the cause. Don was also a caring teacher, supervising 12 PhD students, and left a reputation for bringing out the best in everybody that had worked under him.
Internationally, Don made a particularly valuable contribution in organizing the first international conference on Phytophthora at Riverside in 1981, in the synthesis Phytophthora: its biology, taxonomy, ecology and pathology (co-edited with S. Bartnicki-Garcia and P.H. Tsao, 1983), and the masterpiece Phytophthora Diseases Worldwide (with O.K. Ribeiro, 1996). His name is destined to be always associated with diseases caused by his ‘pet’ genus.
[The portrait reproduced here was taken in 1992 and was kindly supplied by Helga Forster, on whose account this note in Inoculum 65(2): 27–28 (April 2014) is based.]
Peter Wilfrid James (1930–2014)
Peter James, one of the most respected lichenologists in the world, died on 28 April 1930 in Sutton Coldfield. Born in Four Oaks in the West Midlands on 28 February 1930, an avid stamp collector as a child, he joined the local natural history society at an early age, and enjoyed exploring nearby Sutton Park. Peter graduated in botany from the University of Liverpool in 1955. He immediately joined the staff of the then British Museum (Natural History) in London, where he was employed until his retirement in 1990. He did not, however, actually start work at the museum until 1958 as National Service was then compulsory and he served in the army as a cryptographer, mainly in Germany, from 1956–58; something that no doubt contributed to his ability to decipher handwritten letters and packet labels from correspondents around the world.
Peter enjoyed fieldwork and amassed huge collections, especially from temperate rain forests in Patagonia and New Zealand, where he developed particular interest in the large showy macrolichens of the Stictaceae, Menegazzia, and Nephroma. In 1976, along with Aino Henssen, he demonstrated through careful anatomical studies that the same fungus could form different morphologies if partnered with a cyanobacterium as opposed to a green alga.
Peter was a founder member of the British Lichen Society in 1958, and the editor of The Lichenologist from 1958–72. He helped establish the International Association for Lichenology (IAL), serving as its first President from 1969–75, and represented the British Lichen Society in the planning of the First International Mycological Congress (IMC1) at Exeter in 1971. Peter was devoted to spreading knowledge about lichens, through field courses run by the Field Studies Council (especially at Orielton, Pembroke) and field meetings of the British Lichen Society, but further undertaking to identify specimens from almost anyone anywhere — commenting he had a role as a public convenience. With an exceptionally broad knowledge of lichens and a critical eye, he produced an immensely detailed checklist of British and Irish lichens in 1965, assisted Ursula K. Duncan in her Introduction to British Lichens (1970), and described and revised numerous crustose lichens, often jointly with Francis Rose and Brian J. Coppins. He worked with me on the lichen entries for the sixth edition of Ainsworth & Bisby’s Dictionary of the Fungi (1971), receiving hate-mail from lichenologists and other mycologists who could not understand why that was done! We also collaborated in producing a synopsis of lichen communities in the British Isles in 1977, and a new edition of the checklist in 1980. Peter’s crowning achievement in print, however, was the jointly edited landmark Lichen Flora of Great Britain and Ireland (1992) describing all lichen-forming and allied fungi known in the region.
In addition to his passion for lichens, Peter was also a very knowledgeable agaricologist and he enjoyed leading mushroom forays, especially for Museum staff. He prided himself on his culinary skills, commonly entertaining overseas researchers in his flat in Baron’s Court. He enjoyed the music of J. S. Bach, had a huge collection of records and CDS, and was an expert on cacti and other succulent plants — adjudicating at flower shows and maintaining a collection at his sister’s home in Sutton Coldfield. Peter was a cultured gentleman-scientist, in an age when the lack of a PhD was no barrier to progression, and who influenced not only the organization of the subject, but the careers of others too numerous to mention here, including myself.
Angelo Rambelli (1932–2013)
It is with great regret that we report the passing of the Italian mycologist Angelo Rambelli, who dedicated his life to the study of tropical fungi. Born on 9 May 1932 in Ravenna, he graduated from Bologna University in 1956, and was based from 1958 at the Centro di Sperimentazione Ente Nazionale Cellulosa e Carta, before moving to Sapienza University of Rome in 1969, and then the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, as President of the Faculty of Biological Science and Director of the Botanical Garden in 1987. His first passion was for endomycorrhizal fungi, and as early as 1968 he was campaigning to emphasize the importance of preserving symbiotic root relationships in the protection of vegetation, introducing the term “mycorrhizosphere”. His interests were wide-ranging, and from 1981 he served as an FAO consultant on the development of mushroom cultivation in developing countries and carried out missions in Vietnam, Philippines, India, Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry, and Albania.
He will be particularly remembered for his expertise in the taxonomy of tropical and Mediterranean litter fungi. From 1972 to 1988 he made 26 collecting expeditions to Tai, Côte d’Ivoire, and between 2001 and 2005 three to the forests of Costa Rica, for the study of fungal endophytes in native orchids of the region. His results appeared in over 200 scientific papers and books, and his studies on Ivory Coast (Rambelli et al. 1983) and Mediterranean (Pasqualeiit et al. 2005) microfungi in particular are sadly not widely known and cited. In addition to newly discovered species, Angelo also introduced several new generic names, including Chaetopsina, Guedea, Helicoubisia, Talekpea, Danaea, and Parabeltrania. But his interests were much wider, as he was also an experimentalist exploring topics from affects of ionizing radiation to elevated carbon dioxide levels, and served as chair of the Abruzzo National Park from 1975 to 1982. He mentored many students, encouraging them to pursue their mycological dreams, and died in Rome on 19 February 2013.
[Oriana Maggi kindly provided the portrait and information on which this notice is based.]
Pasqualetti M, Rambelli A, Mulas B, Tempesta S (2005) Identification key and description of Mediterranean maquis litter microfungi. Bocconea 18: 1–176.
Rambelli A, Persiani AM, Maggi O, Lunghini D, Onofri S, Riess S, Dowgiallo G, Puppi G (1983) Comparative studies on microfungi in tropical ecosystems. Mycologicalstudies in south western Ivory Coast forest. Report n. 1. [MAB, Project no. 1.] Paris: UNESCO.