Multimillion kronor bequest to mycological research at Uppsala University

2021-11-17

The mycology research conducted at Uppsala University includes systematics and ecology. The image shows inedible false honey mushrooms growing from a tree stump. Photograph: Getty Images

Thanks to an SEK 10 million donation from two private citizens, a new foundation will be established: The Lennart and Kerstin Holm Scholarship Fund for Mycological Research. This will have a significant impact on fungal research at Uppsala University, which examines systematics, ecology and evolutionary biology.

Both Kerstin and Lennart Holm worked as teachers in mycology at Uppsala University for many years. The donation is in the form of a bequest from the couple, who made the decison to donate to research at Uppsala University back in 1991.

The newly established scholarship fund will be managed as a foundation, with the annual return going to scholarships for licentiate or doctoral students in systematic botany working with mycology.

Hanna Johannesson, professor of evolutionary
genetics. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

From the will: “The purpose of the fund is to the greatest possible extent contribute to ensuring that research into systematic mycology continues at Uppsala University, which has such a beautiful tradition in this field and especially good conditions thanks to Fytoteket’s extraordinarily valuable collections.”

“This is splendid! Historically, fungal research at Uppsala University has always been strong and it has received a significant boost over recent years. We currently have a large number of research groups studying mycology and we have created a large and active network,” says Hanna Johannesson, professor of evolutionary genetics and manager of the Systematic Biology programme at the Department of Organismal Biology, who is responsible for awarding the scholarships.

Relationships between groups of fungi

The mycology research conducted at Uppsala University includes systematics, the study of the diversity of fungi in nature, the nature of relationships between various groups of fungi and the properties that have evolved over evolutionary time. Studies of the ecology of fungi – the interplay between fungi and their environment – are conducted in the border zone between systematics and evolutionary biology, i.e. the processes that drive evolution. Together, this research creates a robust environment in which mycologists share laboratories, hold joint seminars and jointly supervise doctoral students.

Mycology research has been conducted at Uppsala University for hundreds of years. One of the pioneers was Professor Elias Fries (1794–1878), a Swedish botanist and mycologist who published a number of works on fungi, including Systema mycologicu, which looked at the systematics of fungi. Fries served as a member of the Riksdag and the Swedish Academy and twice as vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, in 1839 and again in 1853–1854.

Elin Bäckström