Mycotheca dell'Università degli Studi di Torino


MUT History

The Mycotheca Universitatis Taurinensis (MUT) was born in 1999 as the fungal collection of the Department of Plant Biology of the University of Turin.

The establishment of MUT was promoted by some propitious circumstances: the presence in the Department of numerous fungal cultures coming from different habitats and geographic areas, the long experience of most of our staff in different fields of mycology, the availability of an important bibliographic support.

Nevertheless, the starting point of MUT goes back to ’50, when the first fungal collection of our Department started as a result of extensive soil mycology surveys initiated by Prof. B. Peyronel and continued by his collaborators.

In 1950, in fact, he founded the Soil Mycology Study Centre with the aim of focusing the research on soil fungi. During those pioneer years and in the following years the Department investigated the mycological flora of a spectrum of soils: from those still virgin or barely altered by man (equatorial forests, savannahs, nival dales, Picea excelsa, Abies alba, Pinus spp. woods, heaths, natural caves, atoll sands, etc.) to those modified by agriculture (cultivated soils in Italy, Spain, and Africa). The result was a collection of thousands of strains and their morphological and physiological investigation and the description of new species and genera. Several of these strains are still present in the collection and are the historical base of the present collection.

In the following years other aspects of the soil mycology were investigated, especially those related to interactions between and within fungal communities with the same or different nutritional biology. Many data have been collected on the ectomycorrhizoplane of many forest plants the rhizoplane of herbaceous plants and the rhizosphere of both. Some strains of these soil fungi are still present in our collection.

In the 80-90' other research areas started:
- the qualitative and quantitative variations in the airborne fungal communities of outdoor urban and suburban sites (in relation tu climate and namely temperature, relative humidity, rainfall and pollution) and indoor environments (flats, schools, factories especially in relation with human health problems);

- Keratinolytic and keratinophilic fungi and especially those responsible for skin mycoses;

- Lichenicolous fungi.

In the recent years, the main research fields were the bioremediation of wastewaters by means of biosorption and biodegradation with fungal biomasses, bioremediation of soils polluted with hydrocarbons (PAH, PCBs, EDCs, petroleum).

The MUT currently belongs to the Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Turin, born in 2012 from the merger of the Department of Plant Biology and the Department of Animal and Human Biology.