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Mohamed and Ouail discover new fungus in Citizen Science Project

The boys’ finding is a new discovery in an ongoing Citizen Science project.
More than a year ago we, together with University Museum Utrecht, launched a very successful citizen science project.  Children that visited an exhibition about fungi in the museum could take home a sample kit to collect a soil sample. We examined the samples for new fungi. ‘World Fame, a fungus with your name’ was the promising title of the project. It was all we had hoped for. During the months that followed, we discovered 25 new fungi and yeasts and over one hundred potentially new fungi.

The latest discovery was made by two boys, Mohamed Bidari (12) and Ouail Zaim (11). The fungus Phialoparvum maaspleinensis was named after the boys’ school, the Maaspleinschool. ‘When I first told my parents, they thought I was joking’, says Mohamed, who at first had a hard time believing himself he discovered a new fungus. Both boys enjoyed the enormous media attention that followed. They appeared in several television shows, many newspapers and some radio shows. Both the school and the boys received an official certificate, documenting the discovery. A special guest lecture from one of our researchers, Jan Dijksterhuis, was the much-appreciated reward for the school.