​​​​​The diagnostic service of the Mycology unit, Biosystematics Division concentrates on the identification of pure fungal cultures based on morphological characteristics and/or DNA sequence analyses. Material containing fungi or pure cultures of fungi can be submitted for identification.

Type of services
Services rendered by the Mycology unit includes identification of macrofungi (e.g. mushrooms and bracket fungi), microfungi in pure culture, isolation and identification of fungi from plant material, soil and water (done only by prior arrangement), Karnal Bunt detection, purification of cultures, providing information on biology, presence or absence in South Africa, geographical distribution, etc., and molecular detection of fungi on/in a substrate with species-specific PCR primers (if available).

A quotation will be provided on request from prospective clients and after evaluation of received samples for each set of samples submitted to the Mycology unit.

Type of samples
Large specimens (e.g.​ mushrooms and bracket fungi) may be submitted fresh or dried and sent in paper bags or envelopes. The specimen must be removed from the substratum without damage to its stem or attachment point. Soft tissue can be cut into smaller parts and dried. Notes should be made of any feature that are likely to change as the specimen dries, e.g. colour, form, type of surface, whether the specimen ‘bleeds’ when cut or changes colour (bruises) when it is crushed or pressed.

Enough plant material should be provided that contain the full range of the disease symptoms and all stages of development of the disease. Preference should be given to young disease symptoms, rather than advance symptoms. All plant parts (roots, stems and leaves), as well as the soil surrounding the roots should ideally be included.

Collect roots with the surrounding soil in a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out and keep cool. Soil samples are usually taken from the upper layers, unless other specific information is needed.​ Samples taken to be tested for members of the Pythiaceae (e.g. Pythium and Phytophthora), must be kept cool and not be allowed to dry out (i.e. kept at the moisture level at which they were found).

Seed and fruit must be kept dry and cool. About 500 g of wheat seed is required to verify the presence or absence of Karnal Bunt in a particular sample. 


Submitting samples
All clients submitting samples should complete a job request formand the form should accompany your material at all times. Submit the samples as soon as possible after collection. Collection data can aid in the identification of some fungi. The minimum collection information required includes host/substrate, host part, locality and date of collection. The collector, specimen reference number and symptom description (if applicable) is also useful and should ideally be included.

All clients submitting samples for the first time to the Mycology unit should complete a client information form

Your impressions of our service are essential to our success. Please complete our service satisfaction survey and include the job reference number. Send the completed survey to us by post, fax or e-mail.

Please note that adherence to quarantine restrictions is of utmost importance. Material not conforming to these regulations will be destroyed and authorities will be informed.

Contact person: Dr Wilhelm Botha