Else Vellinga

    Work Address:
  • Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
  • 311/321 Koshland Hall
  • University of California
  • Berkeley California 94720-3102
  • (510) 643-5483
  • email: ecvellinga@comcast.net

My motivation for mycological research has always been a desire to conserve the richness of nature. But in order to conserve nature we must first be able to assess what is present. The main questions I ask are: ‘what is out there and what is its name’ and secondly ‘what is it doing’. Fungi have always been stepmotherly treated in biological science, and there is a LOT unknown and to discover!

I am working on one mushroom group, viz. ‘lepiotaceous’ fungi, the beautiful white-spored members of the family Agaricaceae, focusing on taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of a subset of them. They are represented with many species in California, and their diversity and richness in (sub)tropical areas is impressive. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation a project to document the Californian diversity of this group is on its way, and collaborative projects on the lepiotaceous flora of Hawaii with Dr Don Hemmes, and Panama with Dr. Ulrich Mueller, are now in progress. Phongeun Sysouphanthong, a student from Laos working at the Mushroom Research Centre in northern Thailand, is tackling this group there. My time is divided between the microscope, the computer and the lab bench!

We know very little about the ecology of these fungi. Also their distribution is hardly known. I wrote an overview article about what is known, and in which areas more research is badly needed. For instance, we do not know how long an individual lives, how often it can produce fruitbodies, what the fruitbody formation actually triggers, and why certain species are widespread and others confined to one small area.

Teaching is one way to share my knowledge of and enthusiasm for mushrooms. Tom Bruns and I have taught the class Introduction to California mushrooms, PMB113. You are also welcome to come to the lab with your lawn and garden mushrooms and have them identified!

Several of my data files and keys are now available on this web site. These will be regularly updated and new keys and check lists will appear, so come back and check it out!


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last updated: May 17 2011

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