Ascomycetes taxonomy website
Hans-Otto Baral, Evi Weber — Tübingen, Germany
We are working on the taxonomy of Ascomycetes (Fungi) by studying the micromorphology of their often less than 1 mm large fruit-bodies with the light microscope. Our main focus is to combine scientific and amateur work. Our favourite groups are the very species-rich inoperculate discomycetes worldwide. We are doing our work as a voluntary scientific collaborateur of the Muséum national d´Histoire naturelle, Luxembourg.
As early as 1974 one of us (H.B.) started to perform microscopic drawings, later influenced by F. Oberwinkler at the university of Tübingen. Since 2003 we included also digital macro- and microphotos in the documentation of fungal specimens. Out of presently over 21500 collections studied, more than 7000 have been illustrated, and about 9700 preserved in herbaria.
Our most important issue includes the discovery that living fungal cells greatly differ from dead cells and provide taxonomically highly important characteristics which disappear or become vague in the dead state. The resulting method which we call “VITAL TAXONOMY” follows an old but forgotten tradition emphasized by Boudier as early as 1886, but is often in conflict with the current method of herbarium taxonomy and electron microscopy. The differences between living and dead fungal cells and the loss of valuable data are actually enormous. Nevertheless, these easily observable features are far from being well-known and understood among mycologists.