Prof Lynne Boddy - PhD, DSc
Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 74776
Fax:+44 (0)29 208 74116
Location:Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Lynne Boddy is a decomposition ecologist / fungal ecologist. She has researched the ecology of wood decomposition, including wood decomposition processes, synecology and autecology, since the mid 1970s. She has pioneered work on the fungal community structure and dynamics of wood. She investigates the outcome of fungal interactions in artificial and more natural conditions, how these change depending on biotic and abiotic factors, and uses this information to explain patterns of fungal community structure and development. She has begun to relate community structure and development to decomposition rate. A deeper understanding of interactions and their effects is now coming from studying gene expression during interspecific interactions in near natural conditions, and production of volatile and diffusible organic compounds during mycelial interactions. LB has investigated the network architecture of mycelia growing in soil, and her work has revealed the foraging ecology and key roles of cord-forming basidiomycetes in nutrient translocation and wood decay in forest ecosytems. Her group has made major advances in understanding the effects of invertebrate grazing on fungal foraging, communities and nutrient release. Recent work has revealed major phenological trends in fungal fruiting (implying major changes in mycelial activity), crucial to ecosystem functioning. LB is a leading authority on basidiomycete ecology, and has published over 250 papers and books on the ecology of wood decomposition.
Education and Outreach
For many people, when fungi are mentioned their first reaction is “can I eat it or will it kill me?” or “yuk ! how can we get rid of them?; they rot our food and homes, kill our plants and even sometimes grow on us”. However, without fungi the terrestrial ecosystems of planet Earth would not work. Fungi are the major decomposers of dead plants, releasing nutrients and feeding plants with water and mineral nutrients. Lichens are fungi plus a photosynthetic organism, and in vast tracts of tundra are the main primary producers. Fungi are hugely important sources of food to invertebrates and many vertebrates, including man: cultivated fruit bodies; yeast in bread, beer, wine and Marmite; soy sauce; some meat substitutes, such as Quorn; it is fungi that develop the fragrance and flavour of ‘blue cheese’, as well as the texture of Camembert; and most cheese production these days uses a fungal enzyme to coagulate the curds. Fungi produce many ‘wonder drugs’, including penicillin and other antibiotics, the statins that control cholesterol, and cyclosporine, which prevents transplant tissue rejection; and other industrial chemicals, and bioethanol – an alternative to fossil fuels. So, without fungi there would be no fertile soil, no plant life, no herbivores, no carnivores and no humans.
Lynne’s is a keen advocate, aiming to get this fascinating fungal message across to a wider audience, by giving talks, participating in biology/nature events and through the media. Events include UK Fungus Day (which she is now trying to expand to international Fungus Day), the Natural History Museum’s ‘Big Nature Day’, the BBC ‘Summer of Wildlife’, and the RHS Chelsea Flower show, at which, she was a prime mover with the British Mycological Society Gold Medal winning exhibt “Out of sight out of mind” in 2009. As well as being a hit with the judges, the display received wide acclaim from the public, and the 3.5 min prime time BBC TV slot. Also, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent 7 or 8 minutes viewing the display and discussing the importance of fungi to our planet, as well as considering culinary delights. This success has been followed by a large exhibition on “Amazing Fungi” which ran for 4 months at the royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2010, and since then has been housed at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where it has been viewed by several hundred thousand visitors. Published at the same time as the start of this exhibition, “From Another Kingdom” – aimed at a general interested audience – is RBGEs best selling book. She has spoken about fungi in numerous Radio and TV programmes and film documentaries, including, Radio 4 Farming Today, Saving Species, Living World, Forum, BBC World Service, Radio Wales, BBC TV ‘ Afterlife’, ‘Great British Food Revival’, ‘The One Show’ and Chanel 4’s ‘Sunday Brunch’. She and her team also participated in the award winning French produced film “Will fungi help save the world ?” first shown on the European cultural television channel 'Arte' in Autumn 2013. Lynne is also an active member of the British Mycological Society, of which she was president in 2009/10, and has organized on their behalf many conferences not only for academics but also for the wider public.
Lynne Boddy displaying the RHS Chelsea Gold Certificate in one hand and a celebratory fungal product in the other, in 2009
Lionel Kelloway, Lynne Boddy and Brian Muelaner recording an episode of Radio 4 Living World
Lynne Boddy and some of her research team filming a documentary film directed by the French team Thomas Sipp and Anne Rizzo. Photos by Anne Rizzo.
Antonio Carluccio and Lynne Boddy film 'The Great British Food Revival'
Lynne Boddy and George McGavin filming the BBC programme 'Afterlife'