André De Kesel
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 results that are innovating, useful and if possible, free of charge.
My main research contributes to the taxonomy of ectomycorrhizal fungi (Boletales, Cantharellus). They represent an important component of the mycobiota in a vast amount of forests from all over the globe. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are well studied in some 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 taxa. With my colleagues I prepare a revision of the tropical African species (Fungus Flora of Tropical Africa). 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 (Benin). 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 have given in Africa.
Since 1987 I study the Laboulbeniomycetes, a fascinating group of obligate fungal associates of Arthropods (mainly insects). There are over a hundred forty genera and more than 2200 species worldwide. I am deeply interested in all aspects related to their ecology, specificity and taxonomy. With colleagues we recently published a checklist of the Belgian and Dutch taxa, as well as a fully illustrated catalogue of the Belgian Laboulbeniomycetes. This group of fungi is understudied and new species are being found on a regular basis.
Upon request I identify fungi for the Belgian Anti-Poison centre and for people having trouble with wood-degrading fungi in buildings. I am editor of Sterbeeckia, a journal of mycology published by the Koninklijke Vlaamse Mycologische Vereniging.
- PhD, Antwerp University, U.I.A., Belgium (1997)
- Aggregate for Higher Secondary Education, Biology and Science, V.U.B, Belgium (1991)
- Licentiate/MSc, Antwerp University, U.I.A., Belgium (1988)
- Marchal award 1990-1995 (Royal Botanical Society of Belgium), for my research in Laboulbeniales.
- Émile Laurent award (Académie royale des sciences, de lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique), awarded December 2006 (Classe des Sciences) for my book on ethnomycology in Bénin.