Westerdijk Laboratory Manual Series No. 1. Fungal Biodiversity. 2nd Edition
Westerdijk Laboratory Manual Series No. 1. Fungal Biodiversity
Crous PW, Verkley GJM, Groenewald JG, Houbraken J. (eds.) 2019. Westerdijk Laboratory Manual Series No. 1. Fungal Biodiversity. 2nd Edition. ISBN: 9789491751165. $110.00
It is my pleasure to review a newly edited textbook. This text represents a massive effort and will be a valuable tool in the mycological classroom and laboratory. Below I have detailed some of the great strengths of the text which, in short, include media and protocols, beautiful new microscopic diagrams and life cycles, a section on molecular biology, and carefully captured photomicrographs. My only criticism is that the kingdom Fungi is not equally represented, with pages on Ascomycete diversity and biology far outnumbering those on the early diverging fungi. I will likely use this text in combination with other resources in my future mycology courses.
1. Section Structure. This book has many student-friendly sections on valuable topics. In addition to the taxonomic diversity and fungal biology, there are sections on how to complete experiments using sterile technique, media recipes, commonly used protocols, and general methods. There are sections on preserving fungi and cultures for fungaria, and the nomenclatural codes that dictate how new species are described. This holistic view of mycology is sure to provide solid fundamentals for new mycologists in varying fields. I especially appreciated the Applied Mycology sections and fungal diversity organized by habitat in the Ecological Groups of Fungi. While most traditional mycology courses walk through the kingdom evolutionarily from the oldest to youngest members, there is great value in presenting students with a sense of what kinds of fungi they will encounter in the wild and where mycological training has the potential to take them. Lastly, the glossary of mycological terms is very helpful.
2. Inclusion of Molecular and Phylogenetic Methods. The authors have included fundamental concepts that students have historically received in wet lab training from their peers and mentors in a section focused on genetic and genomic data. This information is critical to include in training because in many courses organized by phylogenies, there is regular discussion of taxonomic rearrangements and the associated name changes, which confuses students without an understanding of molecular data analyses. This section covers DNA structure and isolation, PCR, automated sequencing, and analyses such as alignments, BLAST, and phylogenetic analyses. Sections on sequence data file formats, protein preps, and databasing are helpful for students as they consider how molecular data is generated and how it has impacted mycology.
3. Beautiful Drawings and Photomicrographs. The text includes wonderfully re-worked images of life cycles and microscopic structures that will be extraordinarily useful in the classroom and lab. The photomicrographs are extensive in most sections and are included in panels with cultures and in vivo shots of fungi. Paired with high-quality line drawings, this information will enable teaching and learning of many mycological generations.
Botany and Plant Pathology Department
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97333