Department of Mycology

 

Department of Mycology of the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is to study biodiversity of Estonian fungi  and monitoring and organises the corresponding tuition for students on the Bachelor’s, Master´s and Doctoral level in Estonia.

 

The goal of the Department of Mycology is to meet the needs of the society, students and other parties of interest.

 

 

 

Short historical overview

 

The department of mycology is a part of the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the Estonian University of Life Sciences. In the past it has been a department of the Institute of Zoology and Botany of the Estonian Academy of Sciences (1947- 2002) and (2002-2005) of the same Institute in the Estonian Agricultural University.

 

 

 

Areas of activity of the department

 

The department curates the mycological collection TAAM , mycological collection EAA and collection of fungal living cultures TFC .

 

Mycological collection (TAAM), was founded in 1950 at the Institute of Zoology and Botany (IZB) of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. The total number of the specimens in TAAM is about 185,000. The herbarium is one of the most important collections of macromycetes of the northern part of Eurasia, and the most complete collection of Aphyllophoraceous fungi of Siberia and the Russian Far East. Mycophilous fungi are well represented, too. In recent decades, collecting trips have been made to other European countries, North America (incl. Greenland), Africa, Southern Asia and Australia. 

 

Information about the distribution and need of protection of the 167 fungal species of the Estonian Red Data List (2008) are based mainly on this herbarium. The mycologists of the Department have compiled 20 volumes of the series “Scripta Mycologica” and three fascicles of the distribution maps of Estonian fungi. More than 700 mycological studies based on TAAM collections have been published.

 

As the taxonomy and identification of fungi is based more and more on data of DNA, in collaboration with phytopathologists and botanists, a molecular biology laboratory has been established. Correctly identified specimens (especially type specimens) and extracted from these DNA are important etalons to identify plant diseases, food pollutants, etc. The preservation of reference specimens is one of our main goals.

 

About 79,000 specimen records of TAAM have already been included into the joint database of the Estonian biological collections kept at the Tartu University Nature Museum, see http://unite.ut.ee/EestiLiigid/index.php and  http://elurikkus.ut.ee/index.php?lang=est. This is a work in progress.

 

Elmar Lepik mycological collection (EAA). A herbarium comprising first and foremost parasitic microfungi and species growing on cultivated plants was established at the laboratory of plant protection of the Tartu University in 1922. For this, A. Käsebier and E. Lepik collected herbarium material from all over Estonia. The collection was supplemented, by way of acquisitions and donations from several European countries, with exsiccates and specimens for comparison. The collection includes ca 23,800 specimens. 23,648 specimens have been included into the joint database of the Estonian fungal collections kept at the Tartu University Nature Museum. About 100 research papers and almost 300 booklets on plant protection have been completed on the basis of this herbarium material (mainly up to 1943).

The most outstanding European mycologists represented in the EAA collection are J.A. Bäumler, E. Kari, A. Kirulis, K. Linkola, F. Petrak, J Smarods, K. Stares and others. The collection also includes the herbarium of F. Bucholtz (almost 5,000 specimens) and the fungi collected by E. Lep(p)ik largely from Estonia in 1922–1944.

 

 

 

Collection of fungal living cultures (TFC). The fungal pure culture collection was founded in 1970 at the former Institute of Zoology and Botany. Besides the maintenance of cultures, the collection has served as a basis for research for scientists as well for students.

 

Presently the collection contains more than 2,000 strains representing above 400 fungal species from almost the whole world, including both saprobiotic and biotrophic fungi, especially wood-rotting fungi. The collection has a good representation of isolates of some species from the genera Phellinus, Peziza, as well as Hymenochaete. The data about the isolates in the culture collection are available in the MySQL database.

 

 

All collections have served as a basis for research for scientists as well for students. These collections are regularly used by students of the Estonian University of Life Sciences as well as of the University of Tartu. In recent years, two PhD degree and two master`s degree works have been based on those collections.