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Building mycological capacity for sustainable resource management in Laos

Mrs Toulaphone Keokene and Ms Chittarhat Khonesavanh at Craigiebuckler
“Consumption of wild mushrooms is very popular in Laos and so a great deal of them is harvested each year. At the same time, we lack adequate information about fungi. This project will allow us to start accumulating that data

A research project that aims to develop mycological capacity and promote sustainable resource management in the Lao People's Democratic Republic has made significant progress, with two researchers from the National University of Laos (NUoL) and the country’s Plant Protection Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, undergoing training at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen for a period of ten weeks.

Dr Andy Taylor, a molecular fungal ecologist based at the Institute’s Aberdeen site, said: “Fungi in Laos are widely collected for consumption and constitute a major income source in some regions. Laos is one of Asia’s most forested countries and supports some of its richest biodiversity.

“However very little information is available about fungi in the country, and their functions and diversity are virtually unknown. This is why the Lao biological community requested support with regards to building mycological capacity for sustainable resource management in the region.”

Following a workshop held last year at the Biotechnology and Ecology Institute in Vientiane and the setting up of a molecular laboratory at the National University of Laos, Mrs Toulaphone Keokene (NUoL) and Ms Chittarhat Khonesavanh (MAF) are in Aberdeen to fulfil the next phase of the project.

Mrs Keokene, who also attended the mycological training course in Laos last year, felt the workshop had been a beneficial experience. “I gained a lot of knowledge such as how to collect field samples, how to record them, how to collect them for molecular work and how to dry them for conservation in the herbarium.”

Ms Khonesavanh, a plant pathologist, stressed the importance of the project and its potential impact. “Laos has few scientists to work on fungi, and there is a lack of experience, skill and enough equipment for identification. I identified fungi using morphology techniques but for some species I still didn’t know what they were. Every year many people die in Laos because of mushroom poisoning.”

Mrs Keokene supported this view by stating that the project plays an important role with regards to building mycological capacity in Laos. “Consumption of wild mushrooms is very popular in Laos and so a great deal of them is harvested each year. At the same time, we lack adequate information about fungi. This project will allow us to start accumulating that data,” she said.

Both agreed that their training at the Institute has been extremely valuable, particularly as Mrs Keokene will train staff and students at the National University of Laos upon her return. “I would like to thank the James Hutton Institute and Dr Andy Taylor for giving me the opportunity to be here. It would be great to maintain this sort of collaboration in the future,” she concluded.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/building-mycological-capacity-sustainable-resource-management-laos on 23/07/19 05:49:19 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.