BMS Talks

Monthly online talks, open to everyone

The topics and speakers of recent BMS Talks are listed below.  Further details and video recordings, where available, can be found via the links.

The fungi in skeletons: apatite leaching, from soil to indoor environments (November 2021)

In a study of fungal biodeterioration, Dr Flavia Pinzari examined the skeleton of a blue whale - the central exhibit in the Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum, London. The skeleton was previously on display in the Mammals Hall, and has been exposed to this indoor environment for almost 90 years.  Mineral particles from the bone surface were found to be covered with a dense biofilm mostly composed of fungal hyphae. 

Flavia is lead researcher at the Institute of Biological Systems, Italian National Research Council (CNR), Rome, Italy. She is also Scientific Associate at the Botanical Diversity, Life Sciences Department, Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Colombian fungi - an opportunity for the future (October 2021)

The Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia (UPFC) project aims to enhance nature’s contribution to people in Colombia by: increasing and consolidating knowledge on Colombia’s useful plants and fungi and making it accessible for the benefit of the society; promoting a market for useful native species and their high value natural products and encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources that protects the environment and enhances biodiversity. UPFC is a 2.5 year initiative led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in collaboration with the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute. The project webpages can be found here.


Dr Ester Gaya, Senior Research Leader, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Dr Aída Vasco, Assistant Professor, School of Microbiology, University of Antioquia, and Curator of the Fungal Collection at Culture Collection in Medellin, Colombia
Dr Viviana Motato-Vásquez, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

Fungi, metals and minerals: pollutant treatment, metal recovery and biodeterioration in the built environment (September 2021)

Prof Geoff Gadd's presentation will emphasize some important activities of fungal systems in organic pollutant degradation and the transformation of metal(loid)s for metal immobilization and biorecovery. It will also consider the biodeteriorative properties of fungi regarding the destruction of mineral-based building materials, including concrete - which may have consequences for nuclear decommissioning and radionuclide containment - and biodeterioration in the built environment and cultural heritage.

Professor G.M. Gadd has over 40 years direct research experience of metal-mineral-microbe interactions and has made particular contributions relating to fungal metal-mineral transformations, and the establishment of “geomycology” as a recognised research area. Further reading

The Early History of British Mycology (August 2021)

Nathan Smith presents an early history of mycology in Britain. He will explore its origins with the growth in popularity of the microscope before looking at the contentious early history of the British Mycological Society.

Nathan is an educator and researcher whose work is focused on the intersection between mycology,history, and museum studies. His work examines why mycology differs so substantially from its sister disciplines of Botany and Zoology. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and was awarded the William T. Stearn Essay Prize in 2019 for his work on the mycologist Henry Thomas Soppitt.

Standing up for a planet full of Life - Fungi, art and activism  (July 2021)

Ida Dalsgaard Nicolaisen is an activist, artist and amateur fungi enthusiast. In this BMS Talk, Ida speaks about visions for the future where we collaborate with other species - specifically with fungi - instead of exploiting or annihilating them. Ida also discusses the role of art in imagining and creating such futures, and the responsibility that privileged, resourceful humans have for standing up for those less so.  More information & video

Progress and challenges in advancing fungal conservation (June 2021)

The perception that fungi are not amenable to conservation assessments is changing and progress in assessing the conservation status of fungi has been made over the past 10 years.  But much work remains and challenges persist.  Dr Greg Mueller's research focuses on the evolution, ecology, and conservation of fungi. He has conducted fieldwork throughout the world and is active in international fungal conservation efforts, chairing the IUCN SSC Fungal Conservation Committee and the Specialist Group on mushrooms, brackets and puffballs, and (with a colleague) coordinating the Global Fungal Red List Initiative.  More information & video

The impact of fire on fungal diversity (May 2021) 

Dr Sydney Glassman (Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of California) had a rare opportunity to study the impacts of fire on fungi when her research plots burned down in two catastrophic Californian mega-fires.  Fires generally have a negative impact on fungal diversity but certain pyrophilous (fire-loving) fungi increase in frequency after such events. (BMS Members only: contact us for access to the recording)

Survival of the fittest: The life and struggles of Helen Gwynne-Vaughan (April 2021)

Dr Patricia Fara, Emeritus Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and former President of the British Society for the History of Science, delves into the life and career of fungal geneticist and former BMS President Helen Gwynne-Vaughan (1879-1967).  Dr Fara discusses Gwynne-Vaughan's successes and setbacks, set within the context of contemporary attitudes.   More information & video

Entoloma revised: What is left of the traditional species concepts? (March 2021)

Machiel Noordeloos gives an impression of the impact of ITS barcoding on the taxonomic concepts in the genus Entoloma: shifting species concepts, surprising new insights in the value of morphological and microscopical characters, and the advantages and limitations of these new insights.  More information & video

Killer Fungi: A Clear and Present Danger to Life on Earth (February 2021)

We share our planet with millions of different types of fungi, which perform numerous functions that make our planet habitable. However, there is a dark side to this Fungal Kingdom. In this talk, Prof Janet Quinn (University of Newcastle; BMS President) gives an overview of some of the planet’s fungal foes and how we can tackle emerging fungal infections.  More information & video