Rhinocladiella mackenziei is a fungus that infects the human brain. It is the most common cause of neurological fungal infections in arid regions of the Middle East, and it is fatal in 70% of cases. However, little is understood about this lethal pathogen—not even its natural habitat.

To learn more about the biology of R. mackenziei, Moreno et al. turned to its genome. They resequenced the genome of two strains isolated from patients and compared them to known sequences from R. mackenziei, as well as other related fungi. 

These comparisons gave clues about the natural lifestyle of the fungus. For example, R. mackenziei carries genes similar to fungi from habitats polluted by aromatic hydrocarbons, such as those found in gasoline. This suggests that R. mackenziei might flourish in oil-contaminated desert soil, where these genes would give it a competitive advantage over organisms that are unable to thrive in such a harsh environment.

The authors also identified a number of secreted virulence factors which could permit R. mackenziei to more easily establish itself in the brains of infected humans. The genomes harbor a wide array of genes involved in metabolism of diverse substrates, as well as nitrogen and iron uptake. This metabolic adaptability means that R. mackenzieiprobably isn’t a true pathogen; a pathogen would have lost some of these pathways because it could rely on its host for nutrients. Rather, this desert fungus is equipped to survive a number of harsh conditions, so its ability to infect human brains is most likely opportunistic.

Leandro F. Moreno, Abdalla A. O. Ahmed, Balázs Brankovics, Christina A. Cuomo, Steph B. J. Menken, Saad J. Taj-Aldeen, Hani Faidah, J. Benjamin Stielow, Marcus de M. Teixeira, Francesc X. Prenafeta-Boldú, Vania A. Vicente, Sybren de Hoog

G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics  March 2018 8: 909-922; 

Rhinocladiella mackenziei is een schimmel die het menselijk brein infecteert. Het is een van de belangrijkste oorzaken van neurologische schimmelinfecties in het woestijnklimaat van het Midden-Oosten, en het is in 70% van alle gevallen fataal. Echter, er is nog maar weinig bekend over dit dodelijke pathogeen – zelfs niet over zijn natuurlijke habitat.

Om meer te weten te komen omtrent de biologie van R. mackenziei, hebben Moreno et al. genoom onderzoek gedaan. Ze sequentieerden het genoom opnieuw uit 2 stammen die waren geïsoleerd uit patiëntenmateriaal en vergeleken die met reeds bekende sequenties van R. mackenziei en met die van andere gerelateerde schimmels.

Deze vergelijkingen gaven aanwijzingen omtrent de natuurlijke levensstijl van de schimmel. Zo bevat R. mackenziei bijvoorbeeld genen die lijken op die van schimmels die leven in habitats die zijn verontreinigd door aromatische koolwaterstoffen, zoals olie en benzine. Dit suggereert dat R. mackenziei zou kunnen floreren in door olie verontreinigde woestijn bodem, en deze genen geven de schimmel misschien een competitieve voorsprong ten opzichte van andere pathogenen uit deze omgeving.

De auteurs identificeerden een aantal virulentie factoren die het voor R. mackenziei makkelijker zouden maken om zichzelf in het brein van geïnfecteerde mensen te nestelen. Het feit dat R. mackenziei gemakkelijk zijn metabolisme kan aanpassen bewijst dat het niet een echt pathogeen is: een pathogeen zou zich hebben aangepast aan zijn gastheer en is daardoor minder flexibel. Deze woestijnschimmel is voornamelijk uitgerust om te overleven onder de extreme omstandigheden van de woestijn. Dus zijn vermogen om het menselijke brein te infecteren betreft hoogst waarschijnlijk opportunisme, en niet pathogeniteit.

Westerdijk op TV bij Keuringsdienst van Waarde! by Webmaster News 2018-02-21 11:21:31

22 februari 2018 om 20:25 is er weer een uitzending van de Keuringsdienst van Waarde. Ditmaal over “droge worst” met o.a. Dr Jos Houbraken als 1 van de specialisten die aan het woord komt en ook Dr Marizeth Groenewald komt in beeld!

Keuringsdienst van Waarde

Gaat dat zien!


Last Saturday it was exactly 101 year ago that Johanna Westerdijk was appointed as the first female professor of the Netherlands at Utrecht University and exactly one year ago that our institute was renamed Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute. We have experienced a fantastic year with lots of exciting activities.

Johanna Westerdijk will be remembered as a excellent phytopathologist and a strong, lively woman that liked working and partying, hence her famous motto: Working and partying clear the mind.

However, Johanna Westerdijk had another strong principle that we like even better: Everybody may do research, as long as one is truthful, ambitious and dedicated. Hans, as she called herself, firmly did not discriminate based on religion, gender, age, background or race. This is a crucial and inspiring statement that we fully embrace.

To illustrate this point of diversity and celebrate one year Westerdijk Institute, we have made two group pictures: one in which everyone is holding a mask of Johanna Westerdijk to honour her legacy as a brave and bright woman and founder of our institute. In the other picture, we throw our masks away and show the broad diversity of the institute today.


Monday 5 February the Westerdijk Institute Course Fungal Biodiversity 2018 started. This two-week course provides a concise overview of the biodiversity of organisms making up the Kingdoms Fungi and Chromista. The course focuses on systematics and general ecology of fungi, as well as related topics such as soil mycology and diagnostics of plant pathogens.

Our students come from all over the world. Some statistics: 19 participants (10 male, 9 female), 6 nationalities.

Book The Fungal Kingdom by Webmaster News 2018-01-26 08:42:13

Last year the book The Fungal Kingdom was published. Fungi research and knowledge grew rapidly following recent advances in genetics and genomics. This book synthesizes new knowledge with existing information to stimulate new scientific questions and propel fungal scientists on to the next stages of research. This book is a comprehensive guide on fungi, environmental sensing, genetics, genomics, interactions with microbes, plants, insects, and humans, technological applications, and natural product development. One of the editors is our director Pedro Crous. Our colleagues Sybren de Hoog, Teun Boekhout and Ronald de Vries are contributors.

More info on

Op zoek naar oceaanschimmels by Webmaster News 2018-01-24 14:33:45

Op zoek naar schimmels bij NICO-expedition! Judith van Bleijswijk van het NIOZ verzamelt onder andere voor ons oceaanschimmels zodat wij er onderzoek naar kunnen doen. We weten namelijk nog heel weinig van de biodiversiteit en de functie van schimmels in zeewater. Lees er meer over in het blog

Westerdijk Institute researchers become AAM Fellow by Webmaster News 2018-01-24 12:55:59

Washington, DC - January 16, 2018 - In January, the American Academy of Microbiology elected 96 new Fellows. Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorific leadership group within the ASM, are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. There are over 2,400 Fellows representing all subspecialties of the microbial sciences and involved in basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service. In addition, Fellows hail from all around the globe. The “Class of 2018" represents fellows from Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Israel, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, and the UK.
The 2018 Academy Fellows from the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute are:

  • Prof. dr. Pedro W. Crous, Director, Group Leader Evolutionary Phytopathology
  • Prof. dr Teun Boekhout, Group Leader Yeast Research
KNAW joins Netherlands Centre for One Health by Webmaster News 2018-01-11 15:28:34

Three research institutes of the KNAW, including the Westerdijk Institute, have joined the Netherlands Centre for One Health (NCOH) as Partner on 1 January 2018. NCOH unites experts from universities and medical centers in the area of human and animal health, thereby forming a strong academic network on infectious diseases in the Netherlands.

Infectious diseases have an increasingly large impact on the health of humans and animals, particularly in densely-populated countries like the Netherlands. In 2050, about ten million people are predicted to die worldwide from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections alone, while viral infections are also spreading at an alarming rate. The four NCOH strategic research themes focus on studying the interactions and connections between human, veterinary, wildlife and environmental health.

Stronger network
With the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) joining the NCOH as a partner, the leading academic research institutes will now form an even stronger academic network on infectious diseases in the Netherlands. ‘We further strengthen our collaboration to tackle One Health issues in public health, animal health, food production and the environment, with an integrated and interdisciplinary approach’, says Martin Scholten, chairman of the NCOH Supervisory Board.

Solutions to Global One Health Challenges
NCOH bundles top-leading academic research institutes in the Netherlands in an open innovation network focused on One Health: public, veterinary, wildlife, and ecosystems health. It aims for an integrated approach to face the global risk of infectious diseases and to develop durable solutions regarding grand societal health challenges. This virtual science-driven institution focuses its research and increase of knowledge on antibiotic resistance, emerging infectious diseases, smart farming, and healthy ecosystems. NCOH stimulates collaboration between academic and research institutes, governments, NGOs, public health institutes, and industrial partners. The NCOH partners are Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Leiden University, Leiden University Medical Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, and Wageningen University and Research. From January 1, the KNAW and the Radboudumc are partners as well.


KNAW sluit zich aan bij Netherlands Centre for One Health

De invloed van infectieziekten op de dier- en volksgezondheid wordt steeds groter, vooral in dichtbevolkte landen zoals Nederland. Er wordt voorspeld dat in 2050 ongeveer tien miljoen mensen zullen sterven aan infecties met antibioticaresistente bacteriën. Ook virale infecties verspreiden zich met een verontrustende snelheid. De vier strategische onderzoeksthema’s van de NCOH richten zich op het bestuderen van de interacties en verbindingen tussen dier- en volksgezondheid, gezonde wilde fauna en ecosystemen.

Sterker netwerk
Nu de Koninklijke Nederlandsche Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) zich als Partner bij de NCOH voegt, zullen de Nederlandse academische onderzoeksinstituten een sterker academisch netwerk kunnen vormen op het gebied van infectieziekten. ‘We versterken hiermee onze samenwerking, zodat we One Health-issues op het gebied van dier- en volksgezondheid, voedselproductie en het milieu interdisciplinair kunnen aanpakken’, zegt Martin Scholten, voorzitter van de raad van toezicht van het NCOH.

Oplossingen voor wereldwijde gezondheidsuitdagingen
Het Netherlands Centre for One Health (NCOH) brengt vooraanstaande academische onderzoeksinstituten in Nederland samen in een open innovatienetwerk dat inspeelt op het thema One Health. Het doel is een geïntegreerde aanpak van de wereldwijde risico’s van infectieziekten en duurzame oplossingen voor grote maatschappelijke uitdagingen op het gebied van dier- en volksgezondheid, gezonde wilde fauna en ecosystemen. Het NCOH richt zijn onderzoek en verdere ontwikkeling van kennis op antibioticaresistentie, opkomende infectieziekten, slimme veehouderij en gezonde ecosystemen. Het NCOH creëert samenwerking tussen de academische en onderzoeksinstituten, overheidsinstellingen, NGO’s, instituten voor de volksgezondheid en industriële partners. De NCOH-partners zijn het AMC in Amsterdam, Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit Utrecht, en Wageningen University & Research. Vanaf 1 januari 2018 hebben ook de KNAW en het Radboudumc zich daarbij gevoegd.

Studies in Mycology No. 88 by Webmaster SIM 2017-12-23 12:57:48

Diversity and taxonomy of Food and Indoor Fungi

Edited by Robert A. Samson
Volume 88, Pages 1–268 (September 2017)

ISSN 0166-0616

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Scopulariopsis and scopulariopsis-like species from indoor environments
J.H.C. Woudenberg, M. Meijer, J. Houbraken, R.A. Samson Studies in Mycology 88: 1-35

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Polyphasic taxonomy of Aspergillus section Aspergillus (formerly Eurotium), and its occurrence in indoor environments and food
A.J. Chen, V. Hubka, J.C. Frisvad, C.M. Visagie, ... R.A. Samson Studies in Mycology 88: 37-135

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Cephalotrichum and related synnematous fungi with notes on species from the built environment
J.H.C. Woudenberg, M. Sandoval-Denis, J. Houbraken, K.A. Seifert, R.A. Samson Studies in Mycology 88: 137-157

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Phylogeny of xerophilic aspergilli (subgenus Aspergillus) and taxonomic revision of section Restricti
F. Sklenář, Ž. Jurjević, P. Zalar, J.C. Frisvad, ... V. Hubka Studies in Mycology 88: 161-236

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Aspergillus subgenus Polypaecilum from the built environment
J.B. Tanney, C.M. Visagie, N. Yilmaz, K.A. Seifert Studies in Mycology 88: 237-267

Defence Claire Khosravi by Webmaster News 2017-12-15 11:19:08

Claire Khosravi, student in the research group “Fungal Physiology” of Prof. Ronald P. de Vries, held her defence on 13 December 2017 at the “Akademiegebouw” of the University of Utrecht. Her thesis “Sugar catabolism during growth on plant biomass in Aspergillus” was well received by the committee.

Fifth China-Netherlands Course in Medical Mycology by Webmaster News 2017-12-15 11:19:44

Sybren de Hoog and Paul Verweij organized the fifth China-Netherlands Course in Medical Mycology, together with Shuwen Deng as local organizer in Suzhou, China. The course took place 5‒14 November 2017 with 61 participants. The cooperative China-Netherlands course in medical mycology was held in China already four times before, i.e. in Beijing (2009), Nanjing (2011), Guangzhou (2013), and Shanghai (2015).

Publicatie cahier 'Schimmels: van plaag tot bouwmeester' by Webmaster News 2017-12-06 14:37:26

Wij hebben meegewerkt aan de publicatie van het cahier 'Schimmels: van plaag tot bouwmeester'.

De schimmel heeft last van een slecht imago. Bij schimmel denken we eerder aan beschimmelde boterhammen, hardnekkige roos of voetschimmel en muf ruikende kelders, dan aan champignons, wijn en sojasaus of bouwmaterialen en brandstoffen. Toch zijn het schimmels die voor antibiotica zorgen, schimmels die helpen bij het houdbaar maken van voedsel, en schimmels die organisch afval recyc...len tot bruikbare stoffen. De natuur en ook wij kunnen niet zonder. We kennen nog maar een fractie van de bewoners van het schimmelrijk, dat bijzonder groot en divers is.

In dit cahier maken we een reis door het rijk der schimmels. Mycologen, biologen, fysiologen, ecologen, fytopathologen, medische microbiologen en biotechnologen belichten zowel de donkere als de lichte kant van schimmels en hun rol in de natuur, ons dagelijks leven, en landbouw en hedendaagse biotechnologie. Het rijk der schimmels is een schatkist voor een duurzame toekomst.

Het cahier is voor € 7,50 te bestellen en de PDF is gratis te downloaden via de link hieronder.

Download PDF


Friday 24th of November the meeting of the Royal Dutch Society for Microbiology (KNVM), section Mycology was held at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute. Theme: Fungi; Information and innovation. The program included lectures from speakers from the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands on many aspects of mycology, including thigmotropy, expression noise, myccorhiza and industrial mycology. On the program were many different lecture topics varying from “Single cell analysis of a cell fate decision system” to, “what do we know about how a fungus feels – and why should we care”, to a lecture by an artist goldsmith on “Fungi, gems and jewels”.



On Tuesday 24 October Marizeth Groenewald and Trix Merkx visited the primary school Het Mozaiek in Houten to tell the children of group 5 what fungi and yeasts are, where it can be found and how the 100 000 strains in the Westerdijk Institute are kept safely. After the lecture the children had the opportunity to look at several fungi under the microscopes, they could also taste some of the products in which fungi are used such as different type of cheeses, sausages and bread. They even made their own drawings with baker’s yeasts and each child got a photo of their own yeast art afterwards. They were all very enthusiastic and many of them went home with interesting stories to tell about the fungi they saw. It was a successful afternoon and who knows, maybe we will see a few of them back as future Biologists at the Westerdijk Institute.



Monday 20 November a delegation of the Henan Academy of Sciences, including the general director of the Henan Academy of Sciences and the general director of the Institute of Biology of the Henan Academy of Sciences, visited the Westerdijk Institute to discuss possible cooperation. The visit included a tour through our new facilities, led by curator Dr. Gerard Verkleij and yeast curator Dr. Marizeth Groenewald.


Studies in Mycology No. 87 by Webmaster SIM 2017-12-23 11:35:41


Edited by Pedro W. Crous
Volume 87, Pages 1–422 (June 2017)

ISSN 0166-0616

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Phylogeny and taxonomy of the scab and spot anthracnose fungus Elsinoë (Myriangiales, Dothideomycetes)
X.L. Fan, R.W. Barreto, J.Z. Groenewald, J.D.P. Bezerra, ... P.W. Crous. Studies in Mycology 87: 1-41

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Corynespora, Exosporium and Helminthosporium revisited – New species and generic reclassification
H. Voglmayr, W.M. Jaklitsch. Studies in Mycology 87: 43-76

Download pdf Stemphylium revisited
J.H.C. Woudenberg, B. Hanse, G.C.M. van Leeuwen, J.Z. Groenewald, P.W. Crous. Studies in Mycology 87: 77-103
Download pdf Didymellaceae revisited
Q. Chen, L.W. Hou, W.J. Duan, P.W. Crous, L. Cai. Studies in Mycology 87: 105-159
Download pdf First report of Phyllosticta citricarpa and description of two new species, P. paracapitalensis and P. paracitricarpa, from citrus in Europe
V. Guarnaccia, J.Z. Groenewald, H. Li, C. Glienke, ... P.W. Crous. Studies in Mycology 87: 161-185
Download pdf Pseudodidymellaceae fam. nov.: Phylogenetic affiliations of mycopappus-like genera in Dothideomycetes
A. Hashimoto, M. Matsumura, K. Hirayama, R. Fujimoto, K. Tanaka. Studies in Mycology 87: 187-206
Download pdf Phylogenetic revision of Camarosporium (Pleosporineae, Dothideomycetes) and allied genera
D.N. Wanasinghe, K.D. Hyde, R. Jeewon, P.W. Crous, ... S.C. Karunarathna. Studies in Mycology 87: 207-256
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Mycosphaerellaceae – Chaos or clarity?
S.I.R. Videira, J.Z. Groenewald, C. Nakashima, U. Braun, ... P.W. Crous. Studies in Mycology 85: 257-421

Studies in Mycology No. 86 by Webmaster SIM 2017-11-15 15:09:02

Regular issue

Edited by Robbert A. Samson
Volume 86, Pages 1–296 (March 2017)

ISSN 0166-0616

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Exploring the genomic diversity of black yeasts and relatives (Chaetothyriales, Ascomycota)
M.M. Teixeira, L.F. Moreno, B.J. Stielow, A. Muszewska, ... G. Sybren de Hoog. Studies in Mycology 86: 1-28

Download pdf Phylogenetic analysis of Monascus and new species from honey, pollen and nests of stingless bees
R.N. Barbosa, S.L. Leong, O. Vinnere-Pettersson, A.J. Chen, ... J. Houbraken. Studies in Mycology 86: 29-51
Download pdf Phylogeny of saprobic microfungi from Southern Europe
M. Hernández-Restrepo, J. Gené, R.F. Castañeda-Ruiz, J. Mena-Portales, ... J. Guarro. Studies in Mycology 86: 53-97
Download pdf Genera of phytopathogenic fungi: GOPHY 1
Y. Marin-Felix, J.Z. Groenewald, L. Cai, Q. Chen, ... P.W. Crous. Studies in Mycology 86: 99-216
Download pdf Families of Diaporthales based on morphological and phylogenetic evidence
I.C. Senanayake, P.W. Crous, J.Z. Groenewald, S.S.N. Maharachchikumbura, ... K.D. Hyde. Studies in Mycology 86: 217-296

In January 2018 the Westerdijk Institute will launch a new journal, FUSE (Fungal Systematics and Evolution – FUSE is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, full colour, fast-track journal. Papers will include reviews, research articles, methodology papers, taxonomic monographs, and the description of fungi. Submissions can be sent to the Editor-in-Chief, Pedro Crous. Other journals managed by the Westerdijk Institute include Studies in Mycology, Persoonia, and IMA Fungus.



Monday 6 November the board members of the 4 foundations of the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute held their annual meetings at the institute. After the meetings, a group picture was made with the bronze bust of Prof. Johanna Westerdijk, the first director of the institute. The bust was financed in part by the Stichting Willy Commelin Scholten and partly by donations and the Westerdijk Institute itself.

The foundations:
Stichting Johanna Westerdijk fonds
Stichting Willy Commelin Scholten
Stichting Centraal Bureau voor Schimmelcultures – Odo van Vloten
Stichting Fonds Dr. Christine Buisman

Picture: back left to right: Dr. Piet Boonekamp, Prof. Han Wösten, Prof. Ben Cornelissen, Prof. Pierre de Wit, Dr. Hans Amesz. Front left to right: Prof. Pedro Crous, Prof. Corné Pieterse, Manon Verweij. Missing in the picture is Prof. Stanley Brul.



Emeritus Professor Pierre JGM de Wit of Wageningen University, Chair of the Scientific Commission of the Westerdijk Institute, is awarded the prestigious Jacob Eriksson Prize from the International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP). The Jakob Eriksson Prize, for Plant Pathology is the highest international honour for achievement in plant pathology. It was established in 1923 to honor the memory of Jakob Eriksson, a prominent Swedish mycologist and plant pathologist who died in 1931. He was a dedicated internationalist who espoused the cause of international cooperation in plant pathology. The Prize will be awarded during the opening ceremony of the International Congress of Plant Pathology in Boston USA on 29 July 2018. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences administers the Jakob Eriksson Prize Fund which provides for a gold medal award at Congresses of the International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP).