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Mycology in Iran: A historical review

Mycology in Iran: A historical review

Study of fungi in Iran was initiated by foreign mycologists. Most of these mycologists have not visited Iran but they received fungal material from botanists who came to Iran for plant collections. These botanists also collected fungi separately or their plant material was examined by mycologists for epiphytic/parasitic fungi. As the result the list of fungi separately or together with the list of plants was published in European literature.

In order to summarize the history of mycology in Iran five periods are described here:

 

1. First period: until 1860

In this early period of time there is no sign of Iranian fungi in the literature and in case there was anything published, it was never noticed by later mycologists.

 

2. Second period: from 1860 to 1941

In fact study on Iranian fungi was started in this period. In this period all publications on Iranian fungi belong to foreign researchers. These in chronological order are listed here.

1. The first publication on Iranian fungi is published by two European botanists, E. Boissier and F. Buhse, where 33 fungal species, mostly cap fungi, are named. The fungi in this publication (Boissier & Buhse 1860) were collected by F. Buhse.

2. Rabenhorst (1871) authored the second publication based on fungi collected by C. Haussknecht during two excursions in Iran.

3. M.C. Cooke in a publication (Cooke 1880) together with the fungi of other parts of the world named eight Iranian species collected from Kurdistan and Loristan provinces.

4. Another contributor to Iranian mycology was Wettstein (1885) who studied Iranian fungi collected by J.F. Polak and Th. Pitcher.

5. Masse (1899) published a list of various fungi containing two Iranian species.

6. Study of Iranian fungi was continued more seriously when J. Bornmüller, famous botanist, started his excursions in Asian countries. This scientist collected fungi together with plants. The material collected by Bornmüller were given to famous mycologists such as P. Magnus and H. Sydow. Bornmüller himself reported part of the fungi he collected together with plants in two publications (Bornmüller 1908, 1911). Another part of the fungi were reported by Sydow & Sydow (1908a, 1908b). The rest and the majority of the fungi were identified by P. Magnus and published in six papers (Magnus 1896, 1899, 1899, 1903, 1912).

7. Worth to mention that Chatin (1897) reported two species of Iranian truffles.

8. Another mycologist who published three Iranian fungal species based on material collected by O. Paulsen from central Asia and Iran was Rostrup (1908).

9. R. G. Fragosu is another mycologist who, based on material collected by F.M. de la Escalera from Khuzestan and upstream of Karun river, published two papers.

10. Iran is mentioned in the title of a publication authored by R. Picbauer (1932), but no locality of Iran is mentioned in the paper. The materials this scientist studied, were collected by F. Nabelek who traveled to Iran and Turkey for plant collection.

11. One of the greatest foreign mycologists who contributed most to Iranian mycology was the famous Austrian mycologist F. Petrak. This mycologist published his first paper in 1939. The materials he studied were collected by K.H. Rechinger. F. Petrak started his study on Iranian fungi in this period, however, published his major papers on Iranian fungi in the third period. He even published a paper in the fourth period.

 

 

3. Third period: from 1941 to 1963

This period is different from others in that Iranian mycologists started studying fungi of Iran. Researchers who contributed most to Iranian mycology are listed here in chronological order.

1. E. Esfandiari is the first Iranian mycologist who published the result of his studies in collaboration with F. Petrak (Petrak & Esfandiari 1941). Esfandiari had a close collaboration with Petrak during the course of his studies and even published another paper with Petrak in 1950 in Sydowia. Esfandiari has also worked with A. Pilát, Czechoslovakian mycologist, on the identification of cap fungi of Iran. Esfandiari has published another 10 papers on fungi or plant pathogenic fungi of Iran.

2. F. Petrak has contributed most to the Iranian mycology in this period. He studied on the fungi that were collected by E. Esfandiari and/or G. Scharif and were sent to Vienna. Petrak published another 18 papers in this period.

3. J.A. von Arx in a paper published in 1949 on the genus Mycosphaerella mentions the names of a few Iranian specimens that were already reported by earlier mycologists.

4. E. Khabiri is another Iranian mycologist who published his studies in a French journal in 1952, 1956 and 1958. Besides, he published a book on mycology for Iranian students.

5. R.L. Steyaert, Belgian mycologist, was in Iran in 1952 and 1953 who worked on plant diseases with Iranian scientists. During his stay in Iran he published a book in French on

Diseases of Forest Trees that was translated into Persian by A. Manuchehri and G. Scharif.

6. D.M. Henderson in five papers published on Asian rust fungi in 1957, 1959, 1961, 1966 and 1969 reported a few rust fungi of Iran too (Henderson 1969).

7. Another Iranian mycologist who in this period considerably contributed to Iranian mycology was G. Scharif. He published his first paper on grape anthracnose in 1959. The title of his thesis was: Etude morphologique et biologique de quelques champignons folicole de agrumes en Iran. He also published a number of other papers mostly on fungal plant diseases in Iran. As mentioned earlier, Scharif had collected and preliminarily studied the fungi that were later studied and published by F. Petrak.

8. R. Pakravan is another Iranian mycologist who did his PhD thesis on biology and classification of fungi attacking rose shrubs in Iran in 1958.

9. G. Viennot-Bourgin, the French mycologist, was invited by the University of Tehran and some collection on the fungi of Iran that he published in 1958.

10. I. Jørstad, Norwegian mycologist, in a few papers reported the result of his study on the fungi of Iran in 1960. The materials were collected from Iran by his compatriot botanist, P. Wendelbo.

11. R. Heim, French mycologist, travelled to Iran in 1960 and published a paper on a mushroom species of Iran (Heim 1960).

12. Among foreign mycologists we should also name of C. Golato, Italian mycologist, who himself did not work on Iranian fungi but published a paper in 1960 in which he names a few fungal species that were already published by earlier mycologists.

13. A. Manuchehri and E. Mohammadi-Doustdar considerably contributed to Iranian mycology mostly in the field of mycology teaching. E.Esfandiari F.Petrak G. Scharif

 

4. Fourth period: from 1963 to 2000

This period is distinct from other periods for the following reasons:

i. Until this period, no artificial media were used in order to grow/identify the fungi. In this period after the foundation of the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection in Tehran equipments and materials for culture of fungi were prepared and developed. Therefore, it became possible to work on most fungal species. This type of research was initiated in Iranian universities at 1963.

ii. In this period due to the growing number of Iranian mycologists and plant pathologists most of the work on Iranian fungi was done by Iranian mycologists.

iii. In earlier periods most papers on the identification of fungi of Iran were generally covering all groups of fungi, but in this period papers on specific fungal groups in addition to identification monographs on the fungi of Iran were published.

 

Due to the rather large number of Iranian mycologists in this period we refrain from writing their names. But we feel it is necessary to introduce foreign researchers who contributed to Iranian mycology in this period.

1. E. Niemann was a German plant pathologist who for many years worked for the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection as a colleague of Iranian

researchers. His contribution to Iranian plant pathology and mycology was considerable enough to name him as one of the main founders of modern fungal plant pathology in Iran. He authored nine papers on plant diseases co-authored by his Iranian colleagues that were published in the Iranian journal Applied Entomology and Plant Pathology during 1963 to 1967.

2. In 1963 A. Dubuis & L. Faurel reported eight fungal species in a list of plant species that were collected by R. Pasquier.

3. In 1964 F. Petrak published another paper and reported two new fungal species from Iran.

4. D. Boubls & A. Nazemille wrote a paper on grape diseases in Azarbaijan province (west of Iran) in 1966 and reported the fungi they isolated from grape in that region.

5. W.J. Kaiser, American researcher, worked for many years at the College of Agriculture, Tehran University on disease of pulses and published his first paper in 1967.

6. G. Viennot-Bourgin travelled to Iran in the same period and authored four papers alone or jointly with Iranian colleagues.

7. Norwegian mycologist, Eckblad (1970) published his findings on Gasteromycetes of Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq based on material that were collected by P. Wendelbo from Iran.

8. W. Gerlach, German mycologist, worked for three months in Iran in 1968 and published three papers on Iranian Fusarium and Cylindrocarpon species alone or jointly with Iranian colleagues (Gerlach & Ershad 1970).

9. W. Frey & H.J. Mayeo (1971) listed papers published about plants and fungi of Iran.

10. R.L. Steyaert was again in Iran in this period, in 1972 published a paper on Ganoderma and reported a few Iranian fungi too.

11. J. Altman, American researcher, who worked in Iran (Power & Water Organization, Dezful, Khuzistan) on plant diseases, published a few papers on fungal diseases of plants.

12. H. Riedl travelled to Iran in spring 1974 in order to collect plants, fungi and lichens of Iran. He jointly published a paper with his Iranian collaborator (Riedl & Ershad 1977).

13. N. Hallenberg, Swedish mycologist, who worked on wood inhabiting fungi as the subject of his thesis, travelled to the Caspian Sea region in a couple of occasions with his Iranian collaborators and the result of his worked was published in four papers (Hallenberg 1978).

14. K. Vánky, smut specialist, travelled to Iran in spring 1990 and with his Iranian collaborator visited central, eastern and northern parts of Iran and published two papers on Iranian smut fungi (Vánky & Ershad 1993).

15. H.B. Gjaerum, Norwegian rust specialist, collaborated with Iranian rust specialists and reported Iranian rust fungi in a few papers and also published a joint paper with Iranian mycologists (Ershad et al. 1997).

 

5. Fifth period: from 2000

This period is distinct from other periods because molecular techniques were used in the identification of fungi of Iran. In this period several Iranian mycologists were educated abroad or at Iranian universities who used molecular techniques in their works.

A turning point in the history of mycology in Iran is the foundation of Iranian Mycological Society which took place on 15 September 2010 at the Iranian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Tehran, where five executive committee members were elected during the first general meeting of the society.

The number of Iranian mycologists was increased and nearly most papers were dedicated to specific groups of fungi. Due to the large number of Iranian mycologists in this period we refrain from writing their names. It is important here to mention the names of two outstanding mycologists whose collaboration and support to young Iranian mycologists significantly contributed to the advancement of mycology in Iran. These great mycologists are W. Gams (Swiss-Austrian mycologists who works in the Netherlands) and U. Braun (German mycologist).

As was mentioned here, in the first paper published on Iranian fungi (Biossier & Buhse 1860) 33 species were reported. In the third edition of the 'Fungi of Iran' Ershad (2009) listed 3229 fungal species/varieties together with their substrates and localities. Now after 151 years of mycological study in Iran the number of fungal species/varieties of Iran reaches some 3300. These taxa belong to 871 genera that are: 20 of Protozoa, 15 of Chromista, 261 of Deuteromycota, 225 of Ascomycota, 315 of Basidiomycota (including 289 of Agaricomycotina, 21 of Pucciniomycotina and 15 of Ustilaginomycotina), 4 of Blastocladiomycota, 2 of Chytridiomycota, 9 of Glomeromycota and 20 of Zygomycota.

The first general meeting of the Iranian Mycological Society on 15 September 2010

 

References

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