A mushrooming subject

December 18, 2008

Mycology, the study of fungi, is thriving in UK universities and research institutes despite rumours to the contrary in the press ("The week in higher education", 4 December) from Joan Kelley and colleagues at the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI).

There are strong fungal research groups throughout the UK, and the teaching of fungal biology has been embedded in undergraduate syllabuses for subjects such as microbiology, plant science, biotechnology and molecular biology. Indeed, the number of mycologists in permanent posts at just the universities of Aberdeen and Exeter exceeds the total number that the CABI claims exist in the whole country.

Most significantly, the next International Mycological Congress, in 2010, is being hosted by the British Mycological Society in Edinburgh, and half of the plenary lecturers are likely to be British because they are the leading international authorities in mycology.

I guess that Kelley meant that there are few UK fungal taxonomists, a very different matter.

Peter Spencer-Phillips, Vice-president, British Mycological Society.

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