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Passionate about fungi

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

Fungi biologists described eight new species that will be added to the ARISE reference database. They had some special help: from children in schools in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The estimated number of fungi around the

world is at least 1.5 million, but probably as many as 3 million or more. With only 120,000 currently accepted species, it appears that at best just 8%, and in the worst-case scenario just 3%, are named so far. For The Netherlands these numbers are unknown.

From all the habitats where fungi can be found soil is a good place to find a lot of biodiversity.

Throughout the course of the “Fungi for the future” project, a citizen science initiative, soil samples were collected by students from several schools across The Netherlands. They were processed in the lab with the aim to isolate in culture as many fungal species as possible, to barcode their DNA, identify and preserve them in our collection.

All the fungi we got and their DNA barcodes will become part of the Dutch reference database for fungi. By knowing which species are there in the soil, we will work together with ARISE identifying the fungi, coming from both barcode and metabarcoding studies. By preserving the fungal cultures, we ensure they can be used by others in future research.

While identifying the specimens, 8 species, including 2 new genera, were found to be new to science. Those were named after the collectors or schools that send the samples and published them in a recent paper. Names like Hogelandia lambearum gen. et sp. nov., Paracremonium bendijkiorum, and Parasarocladium wereldwijsianum honour the schools involved.

Above: Proud young citizen scientists from Viso Cor Mariae (Brakel, Belgium) and OBS Wereldwijs (Bilthoven, The Netherlands)

Margarita Hernández-Restrepo

Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute


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