Bulletin Number 4. January 31st, 2011
Dr. Katsuji Yamanaka Dr. Katsuji Yamanaka Kyoto-Mycological Institute Kyoto,Japan.

Primitive methods of shiitake (Lentinula edodes) cultivation were used in the middle of the 17th century and represent the origin of mushroom cultivation in Japan. At that time, shiitake growers gathered logs bearing shitake mushrooms and placed them near fresh logs, the bark of which had been cut with a hatchet, allowing airborne spores to infect the new logs. Shiitake cultivation has developed and expanded rapidly since then. In 1943, Dr. Kisaku Mori invented a new inoculation method based on wooden dowels or plugs of colonized mycelia inserted into drilled holes in the logs. Recently, bag cultivation of shiitake has increased rapidly in conjunction with a decrease in log cultivation.

The cultivation of nameko (Pholiota nameko) and hiratake (Pleurotus ostreatus) was also based on log cultivation in the early-1950s but it changed over to bottle cultivation in the early-1960s. In 1928, in Kyoto, Hikosaburo Morimoto invented the first enokitake (Flammulina velutipes) production method based on a sawdust-substrate contained in glass bottles. Commercial bottle cultivation of enokitake using this method began in northern Nagano prefecture in the 1950’s and since then, production has become more popular in Japan, along with a move to polypropylene bottles. The production of bunashimeji (Hypsizygus marmoreus) began in the early-1970s using sawdust substrate in bottles while production of maitake (Grifola frondosa) began in the late-1970s and was based on sawdust substrate in bags although currently 26% of production is in bottles. King oyster (Pleurotus eryngii) production using bottle cultivation was introduced in 1993. At present, most...

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Dr. D. W. Minter.
President, European Mycological Association CABI, Bakeham Lane, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9TY, UK.

It's difficult to over-emphasize how important fungi are. Their well-being is necessary for sustainable life on this planet. Without them, we're finished. To take just one example, they are nature's recyclers. Like the municipal refuse collectors employed to remove our rubbish, we don't notice them until for some reason they stop. But - and it's scary - stopping is something they might just possibly do. Scientists have known for over 100 years that, like animals and plants, fungi too are affected by the destructive activities of mankind. There is already evidence that populations of many species are falling: the impact of air pollution on lichen-forming fungi is particularly well documented. Although there is still insufficient information about the conservation status of fungi, there is every reason to suppose they are just as vulnerable as other groups of organisms to habitat loss and climate change.

Public awareness of their importance is, however, very low, not least because biodiversity - the full and wonderful diversity of life - is still widely portrayed as "flora and fauna" or "animals and plants". These lazy and misleading descriptions can even be found on websites of major biological institutions and learned societies which should and do know better. Biodiversity is so much more than "animals and plants". The five kingdom classification of life, which recognizes fungi in a kingdom of their own, has been generally accepted by scientists since at least 1970 and, with an estimated 1.5 million species of fungi on this planet and a presence in all major ecosystems, freshwater, marine and terrestrial alike, this kingdom is megadiverse. There are far more fungi than all the plants and vertebrates put together. To ignore them is not a sensible option.

The broader conservation movement, however, remains largely unaware of the need to conserve fungi. Priority habitats for conservation, such as biodiversity hotspots, are almost always defined on the basis of bird, mammal and flowering plant diversity. Fungi don't get a look-in. This mean that habitats rich in fungal diversity are missed and remain unprotected. Most nature reserve management plans do not take fungi into account. Fungi are often treated as part of the problem, rather than recognized as themselves being in need of protection. In many countries there is no explicit legal protection for fungi.

This failure to take fungi into account spilled over into the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD]. Laudibly, it established the right to protection for all forms of life, and "all forms of life" includes fungi, but its text classified biodiversity as "animals, plants and micro-organisms", i.e. two taxonomic kingdoms and a third category defined by size. Fungi belong in neither the animal nor plant kingdom but they do include in their number some of the largest single living individuals known on earth. One genetically uniform colony of the toadstool Amanita ostyae in the Malheur National Forest of Oregon covers an area of almost 9 km2, making it far bigger than the blue whale or any of the great redwoods. The term micro-organism - that third category - therefore hardly seems appropriate.

Fungi simply do not fit these inadequate CBD definitions, and they are suffering as a result. Their right to protection has been established, but the convention has provided no machinery for ensuring it happens. Many national biodiversity action plans produced in response to the convention fail to consider fungi at all. The few which do usually treat them as "lower plants" - an obscure corner of botany. The year 2010 was designated by the CBD as the "International Year of Biodiversity", but no fungus appears on the logo, and fungi are nowhere mentioned in the promotional video []. This is compelling and very public evidence that the CBD in its current state is not delivering protection for these critically important organisms. As David Hawksworth, one of the world's leading fungal experts so eloquently put it, fungi are truly "the orphans of Rio".

The International Society for Fungal Conservation
Now, at last, something is being done to fill this huge gap in the conservation world. On 6 August 2010 at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, a special meeting was organized to consider the problem. Scientists from twenty-one different countries attended, with messages of interest and support from many others, taking the total number of countries represented to over forty. In addition, there were messages of support from a range of learned societies, NGOs and national representatives of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (the scientists who advise the Rio Convention). After animated discussion, there was overwhelming agreement that the time had come to set up the International Society for Fungal Conservation.

This new Society has already established a website [] but until the constitution is adopted, and a system of governance has been set up, there can be no formal policy. The following notes are therefore merely speculative and tentative ideas on general directions. They are far from exhaustive, but it is already clear that the Society will need to work in at least four general areas: infrastructure, education, science and politics.

Infrastructure. The Society will need to start fund-raising. Little can be achieved without money. The Society must promote and support efforts to establish a network of conservatio? societies for fungi working at different levels (continental, national and local). In particular, it must involve scientists working with lichen-forming fungi who in many respects have more experience of conservation than those working with other fungi. At present, fungal conservation is supported mainly by fungal ecologists, taxonomists and amateurs. The Society needs to raise awareness among laboratory-based scientists working with fungi, for example in genomics, that their knowledge and expertise is relevant to the movement, and that they too have a responsibility to promote conservation. The Society should seek to raise awareness among curators of fungal culture collections of the important role these bodies have for ex situ fungal conservation. The Society could also establish links with other organizations promoting conservation of overlooked and under-valued groups of organisms, so that experience and resources can be pooled.

Education. The Society will need to work with learned mycological societies to raise awareness among the general public and their governments of the importance of fungi, to promote the teaching of mycology at all levels in education, and to develop educational websites and other resources appropriate for that objective.

Science. The Society will work to identify, classify and publicise threats to fungi, and to identify important areas for fungi (fungal hotspots and coldspots), important fungal associated organisms, and impacts on human society which may occur as a result of fungal population declines and extinctions. The Society will furthermore promote the message that, without taking fungi into account, the ecosystem approach to conservation is so severely compromised as to be invalid. This will entail raising awareness that fungi are essential components of ecosystems.

Politics. The Society will develop policy, and will develop political expertise where possible by learning from the experiences of other conservation societies. The Society will seek to raise awareness of fungi among the CBD National Focus Points, and will also seek to engage governments which are not signatories to the CBD, making them aware of the importance of fungal conservation. The Society will seek to raise the profile of fungi, in part through a campaign to encourage biological institutions and learned societies to ensure that the language used in their promotional material properly reflects the true importance of fungi. This will, for example, entail discouraging language which results in confusion of fungi with plants ("botany" does not include "mycology", fungi are not "lower plants", they are not part of a "flora" etc.). Use of "biodiversity" as shorthand for "animals and plants" will also be discouraged.

The Society must finally work to promote representation by mycologists on bodies concerned with biodiversity and conservation. If fungi are the "orphans of Rio", then mycology, like an orphan, enjoys little of the family wealth (mycologists are usually hidden away in obscure departments of botanical institutions, getting a very small share of resources), and mycology is rarely consulted on family matters by the biological sciences. Biodiversity initiatives should as a matter of course involve mycologists as equal players from their inception. At present, in general, they don't.

Conclusions The challenges for fungal conservation are daunting, but the topic is far too important to ignore. Almost unbelievably, the International Society for Fungal Conservation appears to be the first anywhere in the world exclusively and explicitly devoted to protecting fungi. Establishing it was an important and historic event for the conservation world, but only a first step. The Society is new, small and inexperienced, and has a huge job to do. It now needs strong, enthusiastic and generous help and support from other conservation bodies and from all who understand the pressing need to protect the "orphans o? Rio".

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Dr. Jean Michel SavoieDr. Jean Michel Savoie
INRA. Bordeaux,

You are kindly invited to attend

7th International Conference on Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products
Date: 4-7 October 2011

Conference venue: Convention Centre, Arcachon, France

Dates to keep in mind:

* Deadline for abstract submission : April 1- 2011
* Notification of abstract acceptance, latest date: April 30- 2011
* Deadline for registration at a preferential rate: June 15- 2011
* Deadline for article submission: July 20- 2011
* Deadline for registration: September 10- 2011

More information at:

Organizing Committee
Jean-Michel SAVOIE,
Christophe BILLETTE
Philippe CALLAC.

The World Society for Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products Outstanding Researcher Award

Criteria and Selection Process

The World Society for Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products (WSMBMP) Outstanding Researcher Award was established to provide recognition to persons who have conducted outstanding mushroom research over at least a 10-year period. This award is presented tri-annually and is funded by the WSMBMP.

Eligibility:All mushroom researchers with at least 10 years of research contributions are eligible. Previous recipients of the WSMBMP Outstanding Researcher Award are not eligible for nomination for six years following the receipt of this award.

Selection Criteria: Selection will be based on submitted evidence that document research excellence over at least a 10-year period in the mushroom community. Each nomination should include (1) an up-to-date curriculum vitae; (2) a one-page tabulated summary of research accomplishments; (3) list of published research work; (4) two letters of recommendation, including one from the nominator; (5) a list of all research awards, received or nominated; and (6) a one page summary of the nominees' perceptions of his or her research activities (optional).

Selection Committee: The WSMBMP Awards Committee shall tri-annually recommend up to two awardees to the President of the WSMBMP.

Selection Process: A call for nominees will be made during January of the year of the tri-annual International Conference by the chair of the WSMBMP Awards Committee. Any member of the WSMBMP in good standing may nominate candidates for the award. The selection committee is also free to solicit additional input regarding the research record of any nominee. Based on the submitted evidence, the committee may recommend to the President up to two individuals to receive the WSMBMP Outstanding Researcher Award. The awardee(s) will be announced at the tri-annual International Conference.

The WSMBMP Awards Committee
Dr. Gerardo Mata (Mexico)
Dr. Qing Shen (China/USA)
Dr. Katsuyi Yamanaka (Japan)

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The WSMBMP Bulletin is the official electronic publication of the World Society for Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. The bulletin is intended to keep members informed about Council activities and to share general information about mushrooms. It is designed to allow communication between society members and alert them about new topics and opportunities related to mushrooms. Society members and general public are kindly invited to submit letters, comments and information of interest for the mushroom community to be published in the bulletin. Please submit your contributions electronically in free format to the editors Jos?E. Sanchez and Helen Grogan

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