WHO’S IN A NAME? :
"This installment honors a
mycologist for whom an entire class of fungi, not an individual species or
genus, is named.
Cecil Terence Ingold , born July 5, 1905, died May 31, 2010,
five weeks short of 105 years of age. As one centenary tribute to him
“His research interests ... ranged over an exceptionally wide field”,
including chytrids, spore discharge mechanisms in asco- and basidiomycetes,
smuts, polypores, Entomophthorales, and the remarkable group of
aquatic hyphomycetes, now known as Ingoldian fungi, which are primarily
responsible for leaf decay and nutrient recycling in streams. It was he
who first recognized the significance of those hyphomycetes, as well as
their ubiquitous distribution."
In 1926 Ingold received an undergraduate degree in botany, with an
emphasis on mycology, from Queen’s University in
He then spent a year at Imperial College,
London, where he
took an advanced course devoted equally to mycology and plant physiology.
Captivated by the latter subject, he returned to
for his Ph.D., which he earned in 1930 with a dissertation on systems in
plant sap that buffer against changes in pH.
Nevertheless, he later described the years 1927-30 as “frustrating
Ingold’s first faculty appointment was at the
of Reading, where he
taught more than half of all the courses in the Department of Botany.
Still having “strong leanings toward mycology”, he there met Walter
Buddin, who would later serve as treasurer of the British Mycological
Society. It was Budden who
introduced him “to the joys of fungal forays” and induced him to join the
BMS in 1932.
In 1937 Ingold moved to
College, Leicester, where he “became excited by the chytrids
attacking planktonic algae”. It was
his discovery of one particularly beautiful such chytrid (Endocoenobium
eudorinae) that reportedly caused him to specialize thereafter in
mycology rather than plant physiology; and the next year, while searching
for chytrids in a small brook near his home, he found in the stream scum
an “abundance [of] many kinds of most extraordinary fungal spores”, most
of which were large and tetraradiate in shape.
For several months he continued to find such spores in scum, and he
finally discovered their source to be fungi living on submerged alder
leaves in the stream bed. He later
learned that a few such fungi had been described earlier, but, he thought,
“rather inadequately”; and so he undertook to classify those aquatic
hyphomycetes into eight new genera, all of which remain valid today.
When Ingold first presented his findings in a report to the BMS,
his mentor John Ramsbottom urged him to note the precise location where
they occurred, as he thought that “such a distinctive fungal flora might
not occur elsewhere”. But in
fact, they were subsequently found to exist in profusion (up to 20,000 per
liter of water) in streams throughout the world.
Indeed, Nicholas Money, in his
wonderful book Mr. Bloomfield’s
Orchard, devotes a full chapter to “Ingold’s jewels”, where he
compares Ingold’s discovery of this “wholly new type of fungus” to “the
first scientific reports of elephants, rhinoceros, and other African
mammals” (p. 109).
In 1944 Ingold accepted a chair at
College, London, where he remained for the next 33
years. In his centenary tribute, Webster describes Ingold as “a disciple
of A.H. Reginald Buller, whose writings ... kindled [Ingold’s] interest in
spore discharge.” Ingold subsequently published three books on that
subject, the last of which
is an exceedingly interesting and eminently readable text.
Though Ingold retired from teaching in 1972, he retained his
interest in aquatic hyphomycetes and continued to do serious research on
them at his home for another five years. Then, recognizing that he could
not compete in retirement with “the splendid studies of those fungi” being
undertaken elsewhere, he turned his attention to other microfungi.
By the time of his eightieth birthday he had a bibliography of 174
publications, and a further 100 appeared in the following twenty years!
His last laboratory work, leading to two short papers in the
journal Mycological Research,
was conducted in 1998 and involved smut fungi.
“Centenary of a mycologist: C. Terence Ingold”,
Mycological Research News, 2005, p. 754.
this paragraph, and elsewhere if not otherwise indicated, is taken
from C.T. Ingold, “My involvement with aquatic hyphomycetes”, in
B. Sutton (ed.), A Century
of Mycology (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 39-52.
Fungal Spores: Their
Liberation and Dispersal (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971).
“Terence Ingold reflects”,
Mycological Research News 2005, pp. 754-755.