In Memoriam: Irma Josefa Gamundi

January 13, 1927 – October 17, 2023

Dra. Irma Gamundi, renowned mycologist of Argentina, has died. Gamundi was loved by mycologists throughout the world for her kind hospitality and helpfulness to mycologists visiting her retirement home in Bariloche. She published many papers on the fungi of Argentina and Chile, most of which were focused on cup fungi, in both the Leotiomycetes and the Pezizomycetes. Her work was particularly influential in bringing to modern treatment the species that had been described by Carlos Spegazzini. She was Professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a CONICET researcher. She served as Director of the Instituto de Botanica C. Spegazzini from 1975-1991.

Dra. Gamundi obtained her doctorate in natural sciences from the University of Buenos Aires. In her early years she specialized in mycology at Columbia University (USA) and at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens (United Kingdom). She worked with many of the discomycete specialists of her day, particularly R. W. G. Dennis, Richard Korf, and Henry Dissing. In support of activities on Patagonian fungi, she welcomed collaboration with Egon Horak with whom she wrote the book, Fungi of the Andean-Patagonian Forests (1993). She contributed to and directed the journal Flora Criptogámica de Tierra del Fuego.

Her interests were broad including the systematics and ecology of different groups of fungi as well as the distribution of plants and fungi in the Southern Hemisphere. As an outgrowth of her research on the genus Cyttaria and its hosts, she studied species of the Nothofagaceae in both the New and Old World, serving as editor of the Simposio sobre Nothofagus, which took place in Neuguen, Argentina, in March 1987. That work set the stage for several publications on Cyttaria, this special member of the Leotiomycetes. Her papers were exquisitely illustrated with line drawings that captured both the macroscopic and microscopic features of the fungus.

She enjoyed travelling with her husband, Arturo J. Amos, a geologist, who predeceased her. After retiring from the Instituto Spegazzini, she settled in Bariloche where she continued her fungal research and welcomed visitors into her home. Such visits were a highlight for many of us where we remember her garden and the spectacular view from her inviting living room. Evenings with Irma Gamundi were filled with talk of her adventures and field work collecting fungi.