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Awards and Personalia

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Awards

CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre Awards

On the second day of the “The Second International Workshop on Ascomycete Systematics” symposium in Amsterdam on Thursday 23 April 2015, the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre presented its two prestigious awards. The awards are made at irregular intervals by the institute following discussions amongst its senior staff. This is the sixth 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: Walter Jaklitsch

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.

Walter Jaklitsch studied biochemistry at the Vienna University of Technology with a focus on enzymatics of Penicillium/Aspergillus, and subsequently worked in the pharmaceutical industry. His interests in mycology started as a hobby, and he trained himself by wanting to know more about the fungi he saw in the forests, and thus he attended excursions in Knappenberg (Carinthia) with the late Meinhard Moser from Innsbruck to deepen his knowledge on the subject. In the early 1990s his main mycological interests switched from basidiomycetes to ascomycetes, with a focus on pyrenomycetes, which he started to collect extensively to build up a private reference collection. At that time he also started to communicate with international experts (e.g. Margaret Barr, Ove Eriksson, Jack Rogers, André Aptroot), and he became a member of the Austrian Mycological Society where he soon established himself as the main ascomycete specialist. In 2002 he left the pharmaceutical industry and switched to become a professional mycologist. In 2003 he started with a project on Hypocrea/Trichoderma in Europe at the Vienna University of Technology in the laboratory of his former PhD supervisor, Christian Kubicek, which proved highly successful and resulted in an extensive 2-volume monograph on European species of Trichoderma. In 2014 he switched to Dothideomycetes (mainly Cucurbitaria), at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU).

Throughout the years Walter Jaklitsch has managed not only to collect a wide array of fungi, but also to culture them, a great number of which have also been deposited in the CBS culture collection. The cultures that Walter has collected provide a living resource for future generations of mycologists to restudy with the gold standard techniques of the day. In the spirit of Johanna Westerdijk we are thus proud to be able to give him this award. Westerdijk had a motto, namely “To work and play hard builds a healthy spirit”. It is thus good to also mention that Walter’s hobbies include playing the guitar, and being a beer connoisseur.

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Walter Jaklitsch receiving the Johanna Westerdijk award from the Director of the CBS-KNAW, Pedro Crous.

Josef Adolf von Arx Award: Uwe Braun

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.

Uwe Braun started his career as a student at the Martin-Luther-University in Halle, where he subsequently completed all his studies. He obtained his PhD degree in 1983 on phytopathogenic fungi in the agricultural landscapes of south-east Germany. After his PhD, in 1987, he also obtained a DSc for a monograph of Erysiphales, for which he also received the Wolfgang Ratke Award in 1988 for outstanding scientific accomplishments in mycology. Uwe has served as reviewer for most journals in mycology, and also served as member of the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi and Lichens (1990–2000), a co-editor of Boletus, and is editor of Schechtendalia. In 1994 he became Curator of the Herbarium of Halle University (HAL), and in 1995–2000 served as deputy director of the institute, where he also teaches the taxonomy of plants and fungi. During his career, Uwe has published several hundred papers, but most important of all, several world monographs that are standard reference works, namely his monographs on powdery mildews (1987, 1995, and 2012), phytopathogenic hyphomycetes (1995, 1998 and 2003), and Cladosporium (2012), some undertaken with colleagues. His present project concerns a revision of “Chupp”, the monograph of the genus Cercospora published in 1954, installments of which are already being published in IMA Fungus (from 2013). Uwe Braun is a highly effective mycologist, whom many of us have been blessed to work with. He has dedicated his career to fungal systematics, and has made our lives all the better for it. In this regard he has helped many mycologists from all corners of the world, especially those that work on powdery mildews and cercosporoid fungi. We thus find it highly fitting that we present him with the Josef Adolf von Arx award for fungal systematic research.

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Uwe Braun receiving the Josef Adolf von Arx award from the Director of the CBS-KNAW, Pedro Crous.

Defensores de la Gaia [“Defenders of Gaia”] Award

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Giuliana Furci of Chile has shown how much difference a single person can make in raising the awareness of fungi and ensuring their protection is considered in planning decisions. She established the not-for-profit Fundación Fungi (FFungi) in 2012, and has raised the profile of fungi to such a legislative level that since 24 December 2013 the Chilean government has been required to provide mycological baseline data in all Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).

The mission of the Fundación, is research, conservation, and promotion of fungi, particularly those in Chile. This is accomplished through the documentation of Chile’s fungal heritage, strengthening the study of mycology, development of a legal framework for the protection of fungi, support of economic activities involving fungi, and promoting the ecosystem, medicinal, gastronomic, and aesthetic aspects of fungi. Giuliana writes that she would like to invite mycologists and philanthropists to look at fungal conservation as they would the conservation of, for example, rhinos, sequoias, or giant pandas. It has been the task of non-governmental organizations worldwide to “translate science to policy” and target decision makers with selected information (and its sources) to empower them in the integral leadership of political discussions on fundamental issues in which their decisions will save habitats, species, livelihoods, etc. Most importantly, it is the role of non-governmental organizations to present practical and applicable multistakeholder strategies to achieve the changes proposed.

The Fundación has been able to raise funds for fungal conservation and has successfully used social media to create awareness and “campaign” for fungi. It has also managed to participate in various environmental organization coalitions and networks that have now become educated as to the benefits of fungal conservation for conservation as a whole. It triggered the construction of a legal framework for fungal conservation in Chile through the inclusion of fungi at the highest legal level in the country: “Law 19.300 General Basis of the Environment”. This established a legal obligation for the Ministry of the Environment to create a public information system for fungi; that fungi be included in the National Species Inventory; and more importantly, for the conservation status of fungi to be assessed and considered. The resulting regulations have made Chile a pioneer in fungal conservation. Now every EIA for terrestrial ecosystems must include a fungal baseline study, and every EIA must consider that baseline information and move to propose prevention, mitigation and/or recuperation plans for fungi that may be under threat using IUCN criteria. Chile is the only country in the world that considers fungi in this manner, and although the methodology for the application of these requirements is not fully developed, the Fundación is proving it is necessary and possible. As no fungi in Chile had previously been evaluated under IUCN Criteria, the Fundación teamed up with the University of Concepción and assessed 22 species of native fungi using IUCN Red List Criteria and for the first time the country has fungi included in the official endangered species list.

Through the use of social media, the Fundación has “made news” on several platforms. It has made fungi “trendy” and fungal conservation a “cool” cause, responsible of Life as we know it. Teenagers and young adults are given information familiar to all mycologists, taking advantage of the attributes of yeasts, moulds, and even rusts. Over 5000 people are in contact through Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter have also been used, but less intensely.

The Spanish/Mexican/Chilean portal Veo Verde (with 279 500 followers on Facebook) picked up on the Fundación’s work and nominated it for the annual Defenders of Gaia prize, for organizations giving outstanding performance in seven categories (http://www.veoverde.com/2014/12/estos-son-los-ganadores-de-los-premios-veoverde-2014/). This was won against nominations from organizations concerned with whales, environmental law, animal welfare, and enjoyment of nature based in countries as far apart as the USA and Spain. IMA Fungus congratulates Giuliana and Fundación Fungi on this achievement, which it trusts will encourage mycologists in other regions to see what they can realize. Further information about the Fundación and its activities can be found at http://www.ffungi.org/.

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Giuliana Furci collecting fungi in Tierra del Fuego.

Birthday Greetings

Richard (“Dick”) P. Korf’s 90th birthday

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Dick Korf in Ithaca 2005. Photo: Pavel Lizoň.

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Dick Korf on the Cornell Hoot (see http://blog.mycology.cornell.edu/2013/08/08/the-cornell-hoot/), Ringwood Preserve, NJ, 1994. Photo: Pavel Lizoň.

“Dick” Korf celebrated his 90th birthday on 28 May 2015. Cornell University is Dick’s alma mater and life-long companion. There, he obtained his BSc (1946) and PhD with Harry M. Fitzpatrick (in 1951 together with his friend Clark T. Rogerson). After one year in Scotland he returned to Cornell where he taught fungi and botanical nomenclature for more for more than 45 years. Under his guidance, more than 20 PhD students graduated (Korf 1991), the first three, Robert A. Shoemaker, Robert L. Shaffer and Martin A. Rosinski, already in 1955. At least 15 visiting mycologists in his lab were supported by Anna E. Jenkins Fellowships (Cornell Alumnus, class of 1927).

Starting with the monograph of Arrachnopezizeae, Dick devoted his research to the taxonomy and nomenclature of inoperculate and operculate discomycetes. I believe that his interest in this group of fungi was also strongly influenced by Elias J. Durand (1870–1922), a Cornell alumnus, whose rich discomycete collections are held at the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium. In 1974 Dick and Grégoire L. Hennebert (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium) founded Mycotaxon, a journal of taxonomy and nomenclature of fungi which has become one of the most important periodicals in the field of mycology, reaching 130 published volumes in 2015.

During his stay at the Yokohama National University (1957–58) as a Fulbright fellow, Dick met and married Kumiko Tachibana. Kumi graduated in architecture and later print-making at Cornell. She is very active as a visual artist to this day. Dick was performing as an amateur actor both on stage and in the recording studio, and for few years he even served as the Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Cornell.

Exe Island on Big Rideau Lake in Canada was purchased by the Korfs in 1972 (later transferred to Mycotaxon Ltd as Exe Island Biological Station). The simple cottage and 3-acre island became a favourite holiday destination for their four children and friends. From my own experience I must say that it is a great place for swimming and diving, sailing and waterskiing, fishing, barbecuing, or just having a good time. Dick organized famous Crazy Eights card tournaments not only on the island but also during several mycological meetings and everyone who has participated remembers having a lot of fun.

Dear Dick — ad multos annos!

Ove E. Eriksson’s 80th birthday

Ove is to celebrate his 80th birthday on 6 July 2015. We wish to take this opportunity not only to congratulate him on his birthday, but to thank him for his enormous contribution to bringing order into ascomycete systematics. His name has become synonymous with critical work on the classification of ascomycete fungi, especially “pyrenomycetes”. Ove obtained his PhD on graminicolous pyrenomycetes from the University of Uppsala in 1967, where he had studied under John Nannfeldt (1904–1985). Realizing that much needed to be resolved in order to establish a satisfactory system of classification, after moving to the University of Umeå he embarked on a critical study of the type genera of all families of “bitunicate” ascomycetes, in most cases based on the type species of the genera in which he documented details of ascomatal, ascus, and ascospore structure, many for the first time (Eriksson 1981). The following year the first “Outline of the ascomycetes — 1982” appeared in Mycotaxon, initially dealing with the disposition of all described families including those which were lichenized. The Outlines became annual, and in December 1982 the new journal Systema Ascomycetum was launched with genera also being covered from 1984. The Systema (see pp. (25)–(27) in this issue) was succeeded by Myconet (1997–2006). The Outlines were what was perhaps the first major international collaboration in development of a taxonomy for a large group of fungi, with anyone invited to contribute comments and suggestions which were published as a series of Notes; a staggering 4407 of them. From 1985–98 we collaborated in this, also organizing the First International Workshop on Ascomycete Systematics in Paris in 1993 to further involve specialists in different groups in developing an improved and consensual system. The Second Workshop was held in Amsterdam in April 2015 (see p. (8)–(12) above), now grappling with the inclusion also of the names of genera based on asexual morphs, and very much in the collaborative spirit engendered by the Systema.

Ove’s extraordinary breadth of knowledge of ascomycetes led to his speculating on their origins and evolution, culminating in the “Protolichenes Hypothesis” in which he argued that the first ascomycetes producing ascomata must have been lichenized, a hypothetical and now extinct group, Protolichenes, from which Peziziomycotina evolved (Eriksson 2005).

Most of all, Ove enjoys looking at ascomycetes in the field as well as under the microscope, and his deep knowledge of the Swedish representatives enabled him to produce meticulous annotated checklists first of the non-lichenized pyrenomycetes (Eriksson 1992), and then all non-lichenized ascomycetes (Eriksson 2009, 2014) of Sweden. Long may his enthusiasm continue.

I am sure all ascomycologists will wish to join with IMA Fungus in wishing Ove, his wife Birgitte, and his three sons and their families a most pleasant birthday celebration.

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Photo Mats Eriksson.

In Memoriam

John Webster (1925–2014): holomycologist at the origin of the IMA

It is with deep regret that we must record the passing of one of the three remaining Honorary Presidents of the IMA on 27 December 2014, five months short of his 90th birthday. It was John who facilitated the realization of Geoffrey Ainsworth’s vision of establishing an IMA through his key role in the organisation of the first International Mycological Congress at Exeter in 1971. He went on to serve as the IMA’s third President from 1983–1990, was made an Honorary President for life in 1990, and became the first recipient of the Association’s Ainsworth Medal in 1996.

Born in Kirby-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire on 25 May 1925, after graduating in 1945, John started his mycological career at what is now the University of Nottingham. He then moved to the now University of Hull where he remained until he secured a senior lectureship at the University of Sheffield in 1950. At Sheffield he completed his PhD on the microfungi associated with the grass Dactylis glomerata in 1954, and developed a delight of demonstrating fungi in the field, something I first witnessed when he led a day excursion in the Peak District of Derbyshire when I was a sixth-former around 1963; this enthusiasm continued well into his retirement. While in Sheffield, John became fascinated by sexual-asexual morph relationships, not least in Trichoderma. His name is, however, firmly associated with the University of Exeter where he was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Biological Sciences in 1969, a post he held until his retirement in 1990. At Exeter, John was able to develop his fascination for the biology and ecology of fungi, not least aquatic hyphomycetes (Ingoldian fungi’), and especially the mechanisms of dispersal and discharge mechanisms; his elegant elucidation of the role of Buller’s drop in basidiospore discharge is a classic. His magnetism attracted a succession of young aspiring mycologists from almost all corners of the globe, including amongst many others Lynne Boddy, Enrique Descals, Nigel Hywel-Jones, Ahmed “Deen” Kuthubutheen, Naresh Magan, Nicholas Money, Ahmad Nawawi, Orlando and Liliane Petrini, Alan Rayner, and Clare Robinson. He supervised around 20 PhD theses and an unknown number of MSc’s. Some flavours of the period are provided by Hywel-Jones (2005) and Money (2002). Although very much an Englishman, John loved to travel, especially in Asia from which he had many students and where he made many mycological friends.

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John Webster receiving the IMA’s Ainsworth Medal in the Cutler’s Hall, Sheffield, 1996. Photo from the BMS archives.

John was an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher in the laboratory as well as in the field, and he pioneered the use of laser discs to compile videos of fungi in action in the late 1980s, and produced the classic textbook Introduction to Mycology which was largely based on material that could be collected in the field and ran to three editions (1971, 1979, 2007), the last in collaboration with Roland W. S. Weber. After his retirement he issued a 24-part series of articles on “Teaching techniques for mycology” in The Mycologist over the years 1997–2006, mostly in collaboration with Roland. Roland also helped get John’s laser disc videos converted into a digital format, and these were released as two interactive DVDs in 2006–2007.

He had the extraordinary distinction of serving twice as President of the British Mycological Society (BMS), in 1969 and 1996; and was made an Honorary Member of that Society and also a Corresponding Member of the Mycological Society of America in 1987. He was a regular presence at mycological conferences around the world well into his retirement, and invariably would sit at the front, appear to be asleep, and then ask the most penetrating questions when a lecture ended. He would never suffer fools gladly and always strove for perfection in all he did, and never lost sight of the need to base his experimental work on what he observed in the field. He took Buller’s Researches on Fungi (Buller 1909–50) as an approach to research to be emulated. In common with so many other mycologists, I feel privileged to have known and worked with such an inspiring pillar of our discipline.

John’s wife Bron was an avid birdwatcher, and they always greatly enjoyed excursions together, one with a hand-lens and one with binoculars. He is survived by his two children Christopher and Sarah, and when he was buried in Topsham Cemetery, south of Exeter, on 12 January 2015 they arranged for his mourners to cast mushrooms onto the coffin in the grave he now shares with Bron. A gesture he would really have appreciated, and at which I was honoured to represent the IMA, along with several other former Presidents of the BMS, David Lewis, Gareth Jones, and Roy Watling.

A list of John’s publications from 1951–2004 was compiled on the occasion of his 80th birthday (Hawksworth 2005) when reminiscences were provided by Hywel-Jones (2005) and Ingold (2005). His contribution to the early years of the IMA are covered in Simmons (2010), and personal insights into his influence on the development of mycology in Asia are provided by Subramanian (2015). I understand that a detailed account of John’s life is being prepared for publication by Roland Weber.

I am indebted to Sarah Webster for information on John’s early career and a copy of his personal cv.

References

  1. Korf RP (1991) An historical perspective: mycology in the Departments of Botany and of Plant Pathology at Cornell University and the Geneva Agricultural Experiment Station. Mycotaxon 40: 107–128.

  2. [A tribute to Dick Korf, prepared on the occasion of his becoming Mi-shou, was provided in IMA Fungus 4 (1): (15) (2013).]

  3. Eriksson O[E] (1981) Te families of bitunicate ascomycetes. Opera Botanica 60: 1–220.

  4. Eriksson OE (1992) Te Non-lichenized Pyrenomycetes of Sweden. Lund: SBT-förlaget.

  5. Eriksson OE (2005) Ascomyceternas ursprung och evolution–Protolichenes-hypotesen. Svensk Mykologisk Tidskrif 26: 22–29.

  6. Eriksson OE (2009) Te Non-lichenized Ascomycetes of Sweden. Umeå: Department of Ecology an Environmental Science, University of Umeå.

  7. Eriksson OE (2014) Checklist of non-lichenized ascomycetes of Sweden. Symbolae Botanicae Upsalienses 36(2): 1–499.

References

  1. Buller AHR (1909–1950) Researches on Fungi. 7 vols. New York: Longmans Green.

  2. Hawksworth DL (2005) John Webster: publications 1951–2004. Mycological Research 109: 649–654.

  3. Hywel-Jones NL (2005) A tribute to John Webster: holomycologist extraordinaire. Mycological Research 109: 513–515.

  4. Ingold CT (2005) John Webster: refections. Mycological Research 109: 515–516.

  5. Money NP (2002) Mr Bloomfeld’s Orchard: the mysterious world of mushrooms, molds, and mycologists. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  6. Simmons EG (2010) Te International Mycological Association: its history in brief, with summaries of its International Mycological Congresses and diverse international relationships. IMA Fungus 1: 18–100.

  7. Subramanian CV (2005) John Webster (1925–2014). Current Science 108: 1386–1387.

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Lizoň, P. Awards and Personalia. IMA Fungus 6, A18–A22 (2015) doi:10.1007/BF03449345

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