The South African National Collection of Fungi (NCF) comprises of two major collections namely the dried herbarium collection (acronym PREM) and the live culture collection (acronym PPRI)



Mycology Unit, Biosystematics Division, Plant Protection Institute, Agricultural Research Council, KwaMhlanga road, Roodeplaat, Pretoria, South Africa. Map to premises is available here.

Number of accessions

At the end of 2009 PREM consisted of 63 000 specimens of which 2500 specimens were types.
At the end of 2009 PPRI consisted of 10 000 specimens, including species and varieties.


Adriaana Jacobs-Venter project manager of NCF and curator of Basidiomycota, Fusarium and black yeasts
Elna van der Linde, curator of Ascomycota
Mariette Truter, curator of Fungi Imperfecti
Grace Kwinda, curator of Zygomycota and primitive fungi

Specimens for research

A loan of the dried herbarium specimens in PREM are available to researchers on request, while living cultures can be purchase for research purposes only.

Historical background

Key activities directly and indirectly related to the National Collection of Fungi from 1772 to 2009 were summarised and are available here.


A. Herbarium collection: PREM

The international acronym PREM denotes the South African National Collection of Fungi, which houses approximately 63 000 specimens. The collection includes material from all continents with its focus on various surveys undertaken during the past 105 years. Numerous specimens from other collections have been received and most are incorporated into PREM. A list of these special collections is available, as well as a list of specimens received from the Stephens collection.

The name PREM was derived from the city in which the collection is situated, Pretoria (PRE), and the M defines the collection as being mycological. Background information and historical facts about the collection were published by Rong & Baxter in 2006 (Studies of Mycology 55: 1-12).

The collection was established in 1905 and through the vision and hard work of scientists associated with the collection, the way for the establishment of a world renounced collection was paved. During the past century activities at PREM were influenced by socio-economic and political events, and most recently, the global focus on the conservation of biodiversity. Although the basic goals and needs to maintain PREM remained integral throughout, various phases in terms of research focus can be recognised over the past century. In the early days the emphasis was on collecting and recording of fungi, after which the focus shifted to mycotoxins and recently to preservation of biodiversity. There is also an increasing demand for public-good services such as information and diagnostics surrounding quarantine regulations. Currently, the research focuses on the survey of ecosystems and molecular phylogenetics.

B. Living culture collection: PPRI

The collection was started as a research collection in 1981 by Dr Cecile Roux to accommodate the strains that formed part of her study on Pithomyces chartarum a pathogen of rice and sorghum and responsible for facial eczema of sheep. The collection is affiliated with the World Federation of Culture Collections and houses ca. 10 000 cultures that include numerous important plant-pathogenic and mycotoxigenic genera isolated from various mono-cultural crops and natural ecosystems in South Africa.

PPRI public collection:
Strains deposited in PPRI of the NCF are maintained and preserved according to the highest standards and renowned preservation methods. Deposits are free of charge. Depositors with the NCF are entitled to receive their strains free of charge at first request. A deposit form containing basic collection information should be completed and supplied with any culture. However, the institute does not guarantee preservation of strains for any period of time from the public collection. Strains from the PPRI public collection are available to the public and researcher institutes for research purposes only. A material transfer agreement form has to be signed before the cultures can be supplied.

PPRI reserved collection:
Strains deposited in the PPRI-reserved collection of the NCF are maintained and preserved according to the highest standards and renowned preservation methods. When clients require that their cultures are maintained as part of the reserved collection, the NCF guarantees restricted access to the strains. Reserved strains are not available for general public or other researcher for the duration of the reservation period. The maintenance of these strains does however form part of the routine maintenance regime followed in the public collection. A fee will be charged for the maintenance of reserved cultures for the duration of the reservation period.


Request to researchers to deposit specimens:
Microbiologists are earnestly requested to send any species of interest for incorporation into the National Collection of Fungi’s PPRI and PREM collections. However, the deposition of strains that have been extensively studied for metabolites or other properties is also recommended. Donors should provide the correct name of the author of the species and supply full particulars regarding host, substrate, locality, pathogenicity, genetic modification, conditions for preservation and date of isolation according to the deposit form.

We urge that strains that represent or may represent either a new species or new taxa be sent to the NCF prior to publication to ensure allocation of a unique PREM and/or PPRI number which is cited in any publication afterwards. In case of living cultures, such strains will be incorporated in the collection with the author's rights strictly safeguarded by requesting reservation (restricted use) of cultures against use by anybody else. Such reservation is guaranteed and strictly enforced.

The institute is always grateful to receive reprints of publications arising from work on its specimens.

Support the National Collection of Fungi in preserving our fungal biodiversity

Kind of material that may be deposited
The NCF accept fungal strains that can be maintained with routine laboratory techniques without significant modification during storage in ultralow temperature, freeze drying or on agar slants. Strains requiring special cultural conditions can be accepted under special conditions and are subject to additional fees (on request).

If cultures are considered to be a special hazard (e.g. new quarantine species, new plant disease or species of economical importance), the collection should be contacted before sending the strains.

We do not accept human or animal pathogens.

Dried herbarium material i.e. fungal cultures or dried host material that represents a specific species, first report, etc. should be deposited according to the guidelines provided in the PREM material deposit protocol. Depositors are requested to deposit ample material for future evaluation of the material.

Administrative and technical requirements and procedures
Requirements to be met by the depositor (PREM & PPRI)
The depositor is required to complete the supplied deposit form. In the event of a later indication or amendment of a scientific description and/or proposed taxonomic designation, the depositor must inform the collection of such changes in a timely fashion.

Format and quantity (PPRI)
The NCF prefers to receive fungi submitted for deposit as agar slants. A minimum number of two replicates should be supplied by the depositor. No culture will be accepted without full collection data.

Time required for viability testing (PPRI)
The average period required for testing viability is 2 weeks; occasionally viability testing may take longer, particularly if specialized media is required.

Checking and supplement of stocks by the depositor (PPRI)
The NCF may routinely ask the depositor to check the authenticity of the deposited strains after sub-culturing. New batches of cultures are prepared whenever it is necessary to supplement diminishing stocks.

General (PREM & PPRI)
The preferred language for correspondence is English.

The NCF does not enter into any written contract with the depositor defining the liabilities of either party but, by signing the deposit forms, the depositor surrenders any right to withdraw his deposit during the storage period.

Certain micro-organisms are subject to import and/or quarantine regulations. The depositor should contact the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to obtain the necessary information and forms.

Contact person: Dr A. Jacobs-Venter