Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute
New name. Same focus on enriching and expanding the world’s most excellent microbial biological resource centre. Stronger focus on research on relevant societal applications and disclosing the collection.
The Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute performs highly innovative mycological research that contributes to the discovery and understanding of fungi and its biodiversity and potential solutions to societal challenges. The Westerdijk Institute has an encompassing and high quality collection of living fungi and related meta data that is highly utilized by public and private parties.
The main focus of the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute is and will continue to be to explore, study and preserve our fungal collection. We recognize the enormous potential of fungi in the application of solving the world’s biggest challenges. We therefore enhance our partnering with the scientific community, both in the academic, medical, agricultural and industrial field for fundamental and applied research. We also built a new wing to our institute, dedicated to novel product discovery.
The Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and is situated in Utrecht. We maintain a world-renowned microbial biologicial resource centre of living filamentous fungi, yeasts and bacteria. The institute's research programs principally focus on the taxonomy and evolution of fungi as well as on functional aspects of fungal biology and ecology, increasingly making use of molecular and genomics approaches. The institute employs circa 70 personnel, among whom 20 scientists.
In our microbial biological resource centre (brc) we now maintain over 100.000 strains of micro-organisms, representing a large percentage of the species in the fungal kingdom that have been cultured to date. In diversity of species it is unchallenged as a reference centre for mycological research. The task to preserve the organisms while maintaining their original characters is a perpetuating challenge to technicians and scientists alike. Because the increase in the number of organism acquisitions is not proportional to an increase in assistance, preservation on agar has been minimized, thus placing high demands upon long-term preservation. The value of a brc depends not only on the quality of the strains, but equally on the amount and accuracy of the data attached to them. Although there are considerable differences among the various taxonomic groups, efforts are taken to increase the amount of information. The available databases allow random information retrieval and give not only access to strain data, but also to literature while links to on-line information present elsewhere are provided.
Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute is a centre of expertise, advising on mycological problems of a scientific, health-related or industrial nature. It offers various services including identifications, patent deposits and courses. Research projects for third parties can be carried out on a strictly confidential base. The institute also publishes books and the journals Studies in Mycology, CBS Biodiversity Series and Persoonia.
In 1907 Johanna Westerdijk became director of the CBS. She started with a mere 80 living fungi in the collection. Under her inspiring leadership the collection of CBS-KNAW evolved into the largest and most all-round microbial fungal resource centre in the world, containing over 100.000 different species today.
She was a renowned multi-talented scientist, a believer in equal opportunity and inclusion and a globetrotter; a true ‘homo universalis’. She thought that fungi held a promising potential in contributing to solve the world’s greatest challenges.
One hundred years ago, Johanna Westerdijk became the first female professor in the Netherlands.
In 2017 we honour her work and we celebrate her contribution to science. To reflect the legacy the institute builds on, the name of this institution changes to Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute. We continue to explore the world, collect new fungi and investigate its characteristics for relevant societal applications.
The Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
Celebrating the Westerdijk-year
On the 10th of February it is 100 years ago since Johanna Westerdijk gave her inaugural lecture as the first female professor in the Netherlands. Utrecht University appointed her as professor in the field of phytopathology, a field that is still social relevant. In addition, she was director of CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre (CBS-KNAW). Under her inspiring leadership the collection of CBS-KNAW evolved into the largest and most all-round microbial fungal resource centre in the world.
Westerdijk was a renowned multi-talented scientist with an international and interdisciplinary orientation. She believed strongly in equal opportunities and inclusion. She educated 56 PhD students, of which almost half were female. In 2017, the “Westerdijk”-year, we honour her work and celebrate her contribution to science.
The CBS-KNAW becomes the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute.
To accomodate the growth of existing research groups and to host a new research group on product discovery, a new wing is being adding to the existing building of Uppsalalaan 8 in Utrecht.
In addition to the existing research group of Pedro Crous (Evolutionary Phytopathology), Robert Samson (Applied and Industrial Mycology),
Sybren de Hoog (Origins of Pathogenicity in Clinical Fungi), Teun Boekhout (Yeast and Basidiomycete Research), two new research groups have been created by and for Ronald de Vries (Fungal Physiology) and Vincent Robert (Bioinformatics).
August 2002 dr. Pedro Crous was appointed director to lead the institute in a challenging research future. At the same time, a new research group on Evolutionary Phytopathology is created.
In December 2000 the CBS moved to Utrecht where it is accommodated in the completely renovated building, previously occupied by the Hubrecht Laboratory (NIOB), another institute of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. The complete staff and collection of the yeast department also joined the staff and the collection of Baarn. The facilities in Utrecht allow a firm base for growth and fruitful cooperation between CBS, the Hubrecht laboratory and the University of Utrecht.
The donation in 1934 from mr. O. van Vloten, a tea planter in the Dutch Indies who was keenly interested in fungi, allowed CBS to start building her own laboratory in 1962. This was accomplished at the instigation of ms A.L. van Beverwijk who strove to obtain separate accommodation and become entirely independent from the Phytopathological Laboratory "WCS". CBS moved to the new building in 1964. Van Beverwijk did not live to enjoy the fulfillment of her wish. She was succeeded by J.A. von Arx who directed the institute from 1963 on. The number of staff member could be increased and consequently more time could be devoted to scientific research. Each staff member became responsible for the investigation of one or more, incompletely known or poorly defined groups of fungi.
In 1921 A.J. Kluyver (1888-1956) succeeded M.W. Beijerink as a professor of microbiology at the Technical University of Delft. He was interested in the yeasts that were known to be of importance to technical microbiology and took over the CBS yeast collection in 1922. In return for 60 yeast cultures he offered 2000 culture tubes and 100 Erlenmeyer flasks. The yeast research in Delft has developed quite separately from the classical morphological methods used for filamentous fungi. The yeast taxonomy was based mainly on the fermentation and assimilation of certain carbon compounds. This way of classifying yeasts is now generally known as the "Dutch School". J. Lodder was a member of the yeast division from 1932-1938 and published a revision of the imperfect (non ascosporogenous) yeasts in cooperation with H.A. Diddens. In 1946 N.J.W. Kreger-van Rij who joined the yeast department in 1946, compiled the monograph "The yeasts, a taxonomic study" in cooperation with J. Lodder in 1952. This book, many times reprinted and revised, is still the major text book in yeast taxonomy.
Prof. Went who was responsible for founding the culture collection asked in 1907 prof. Johanna Westerdijk as director of the institute. Miss A.L. van Beverwijk succeeded Johanna Westerdijk as director of CBS in 1959.
CBS was established in 1904 as the foundation of a collection of fungal and algal cultures at the 11th International Botanical Congress at Vienna. For some time between the two world wars CBS was financially supported by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (RNAAS) and received a fixed annual sum of 4000 guilders.
Daily Website Users
Researchers & Employees
3584 CT, Utrecht
P.O. Box 85167
3508 AD, Utrecht
Phone: +31 (0)30 21 22 600
Fax: +31 (0)30 21 22 601
Fungal collection curator:
Dr. Gerard Verkleij
Yeast collection curator:
Dr. Marizeth Groenewald
Collection of Bacteria:
Mrs. Marian Figge
Restricted collections (Budapest Treaty & safe deposits):
Mrs. Francis Claus (sales)
Ordering Books, Journals & information on Courses:
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