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Stephen from Gozo (Maltese Islands)

  • Dear new friends and maybe colleagues,

    I am 46 years old, a qualified botanist from Malta (mostly known for my botanical website ) and have been interested in fungi for a couple of years more or less after reading my M.Sc. in botany from Edinburgh. I have now applied for a second M.Sc (research only) to study the fungi growing on the island of Gozo. My tutor is not much acquainted with the subject and unfortunately, I had a mycologist from Eygpt who could not help that much, so now I am basically alone, or well with a wide network of Mycologists on the internet.


    I am happy to discover pilzforum.eu, first of all, I adore web fora in comparison with FB social media, and secondly there seem to be a great interest and a l ively connectivity and discussion between members. I have this feeling that I am going to get more than to give to this society but I try to do my best to keep the balance.


    My dreams and ambitions are however dull now because I just got the bad news of early offset of hip arthritis so maybe study of f ungi (which require less rough walking and jumping around) may replace botany as my Nature study hobby. We see, at least I need to finish my current studies. I published 3 papers related to fungi and Myxomycetes, a book about Maltese orchids and several papers on the flora of Malta.


    Well that's about me and if you are coming to our Islands feel free to contact me.


    Best

    Stephen Miifsud.

    : coffee:

  • Hi Stephen,


    welcome to the forum! Since you have a background in botany, you might also give phytoparasitic fungi like smut fungi, rust fungi, powdery and downy mildews a try. Usually, the toughest part in identifying these fungi is the correct identification of the host plant which narrrows things down to a few fungi that occur on a given plant genus/species. As phytoparasitic fungi are not the most popular fungi (so far), there is usually a good chance of finding something new and rare and, furthermore, they get all the water they need from their host plants, so no need to wait for rain (which can be rare in Malta I suppose).


    Björn

  • Ahoj, Steve

    and welcome aboard!

    : coffee:

  • Hey Stephen!


    Great, another Mediterranean addition to the forum! Welcome!


    I don't know anything about the diversity of Maltese fungi, whether they are as diverse as in mainland areas of the Mediterranean or whether there is an island effect, so it'll be very interesting to read about your findings! In any case, as Björn says, most of your findings will be done in the wetter months unless you to parasites.


    (Believe me though - unless you stick to turning logs and leaves for cup fungi and plant parasites - collecting fungi can definitely involve a lot of crawling up steep hills and rough walking through spiky bushes :D )


    Have a good time here!

    Sarah

  • Hi Stephen,


    welcome to the forum! Since you have a background in botany, you might also give phytoparasitic fungi like smut fungi, rust fungi, powdery and downy mildews a try. Usually, the toughest part in identifying these fungi is the correct identification of the host plant which narrrows things down to a few fungi that occur on a given plant genus/species. As phytoparasitic fungi are not the most popular fungi (so far), there is usually a good chance of finding something new and rare and, furthermore, they get all the water they need from their host plants, so no need to wait for rain (which can be rare in Malta I suppose).


    Björn

    Dear Bjorn, Thanks for the suggestion, I remember thatI found a smuts-type fungus parasitising on a particular native species - Lygeum spartum (maybe I still have the specimen) but I failed to grow the fungus on media after one year from the collection, and I gave up. I see if I have images on my HD and post accordingly. I thought that it got infected from infected wheat close by (20m away). Hope I find the pics!

    Thanks

  • Hi Stephen,


    that smut sounds like an interesting find! I don't have any particular literature on smuts in the Mediterranean area, but a quick Google search revealed that there are at least three rusts on Lygeum. One species of Ustilago that seems to infect the flowers and two species of Tranzscheliella that form like a brown band of spores around the stem of the grass.


    Björn

  • Hello Steve!
    (welcome)

    A warm welcome and I hope you will find the help that you need. :)


    And I would love to see, wich kind of mushrooms are growing in your country.

  • Hi Stephen,


    that smut sounds like an interesting find! I don't have any particular literature on smuts in the Mediterranean area, but a quick Google search revealed that there are at least three rusts on Lygeum. One species of Ustilago that seems to infect the flowers and two species of Tranzscheliella that form like a brown band of spores around the stem of the grass.


    Björn

    Hello Björn,

    I have managed to find two photos of the infected plants but not of the spores and microscopical images. Must be Ustilago according to host specificity. If the infection is persistent, I can fetch samples this April and work on it together. I am under the impression (now I am not so sure!) that there was smuts on a nearby wheat or barley field but it can also be another species. Photos from Gnejna area (mt), 60-80m asl, April 2017.

  • I revisited the same population and just collected a few infected inflorescences. I post on a fresh topic in the forum. Bjorne, if you want to follow just look in the respective topic-group where I should post this again. I will have a look at the spores tomorrow

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