Scientists from various countries will conduct a fungi update

20 August 2018

The 15th International Workshop on the Study of Macromycetes will be held August 19-26 at Tomsk State University. The participants will be experts in mycology (the science of mushrooms) from Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and other countries. They will survey the forests of the region, conduct a laboratory study of the finds, and catalog the mushrooms of the Tomsk Region.

- According to official data, the Tomsk Region has 1,350 species of macromycetes, - says Olga Vaishlja, one of the organizers of the school and an associate professor at the Biological Institute of TSU. - The most recent systematic studies of fungi in our region were conducted in Soviet times. We think that in fact the number of species is much larger. A working meeting to which recognized experts will come will help to obtain factual data.

Siberia’s mycobiota has so far been studied much less than Europe’s, so the chance of finding a new species here is much greater. This is one of the reasons that international researchers are willing to go to Siberia. The meeting of mycologists at TSU promises to become the largest in number of international participants. Entire groups of researchers will come from some scientific centers. For example, a collective from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences will study basidiomycetes. The delegation will be headed by Andreas Dahlberg, the group’s scientific leader, a well-known mycologist and co-chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

During the week, the mycologists will go daily to forests in the Tomsk Region, collect mushrooms, and in the evening, study them in the laboratory. Molecular genetic examination will help to specify whether the finds belong to a particular species and avoid errors in taxonomy. Sometimes it helps to detect species that no one has previously found. So, for example, scientists from the Laboratory of Biodiversity Monitoring found a fungus that was believed not to grow in the Tomsk Region. Studying the fungal component in the ectomycorrhiza of cedar, the biologists extracted the DNA of a Suillus pictus. After some time, they managed to find the mushroom itself.

The result of the joint work of Russian and European scientists will be an expanded atlas of mushrooms in the Tomsk Region. The workshop at TSU may bring other results as well. For example, it will help to change the situation with the use of medicinal mushrooms. Today in Russia only one species is allowed for pharmacopeia use - chaga. In fact, there are many more medicinal macromycetes that can be useful to a person. So, for example, TSU scientists discovered a pine mushroom in the Kolpashevsky District - a mushroom known in Japan as a matsutake. Perhaps new data on medicinal mushrooms, obtained and systematized by scientists, will help add new names to Russia’s pharmacopeia.

- The working meeting of mycologists is also important for attracting attention to this specialty,- says Nina Moskvitina, head of the Laboratory for Biodiversity Monitoring at TSU. - Only two universities in Russia teach mycology. The need for creating education in this area is very great, because mushrooms are very promising in practical applications, not just in the food industry.

For example, pure cultures of macromycetes can be used to create forest biotechnologies, which are based on the symbiosis of fungi and trees. Such methods allow greatly reducing the timeframe for the renewal of forest affected by fires and pests.

The working meeting of mycologists will end with an exhibition of mushrooms that will present all the findings made in the Tomsk Region.