André De Kesel, PhD
My research interest is mainly fuelled by the interaction of three elements, i.e. things to discover (blind spots), things to pass on (capacity building) and things to protect and preserve (sustainable use). The goal is to present a result that is innovating, useful and if possible, free of charge.
My main research contributes to the taxonomy of the Boletales, one of the major orders of larger fungi in the world with close to 80 genera and 1300 species. Most boletes live in obligate symbiosis (ectomycorrhiza) with living trees. They represent an important component of the mycobiota in a vast amount of forests from all over the globe. Boletes are well studied in many parts of the world, but tropical Africa remains a blind spot. Since 1997 it is my task and great privilege to study, collect and photograph African boletes. With my colleagues I prepare a revision of the tropical African species (Fungus Flora of Tropical Africa). This contribution will include a literature survey, a molecular study, identification keys, descriptions and illustrations of almost 180 tropical African boletes. Many of these species are critically endangered by deforestation, we have to hurry.
Since 1997 I also study the edible and useful fungi from tropical Africa. I am studying their taxonomy and natural productions, as well as aspects related to ethnomycology. I am involved in several projects in Congo (BELSPO, Biodiversité au Katanga) and West-Africa. One of our objectives is to deliver evidence that the sustainable use of wild edible fungi (and other non-timber-forest-products) has a better socio-economic outcome for local people than deforestation for charcoal production. With colleagues I published several papers and books on African wild edible fungi, on the methods used for their study, identification, protection (Red List) and cultivation. These contributions are also meant to be tools for capacity building and they are used as reference material for the many training courses I gave in Africa over the years.
Since 1987 I study the Laboulbeniales, a fascinating group of insect-parasitic fungi. There are over a hundred genera and 2000 species worldwide. I am deeply interested in all aspects related to their ecology, specificity and taxonomy. I was co-promotor of several MSc-theses in this field and with colleagues I now prepare a book on the Laboulbeniales from Belgium and the neighbouring countries.
Upon request I identify fungi for the Belgian Anti-Poison centre and for people having trouble with wood-decaying fungi in buildings. I am editor of Sterbeeckia, a journal of mycology published by the Koninklijke Vlaamse Mycologische Vereniging.