In 1981 the University of Toronto Press published my book Moulds, their isolation, cultivation and identification. It was conceived and written as a classroom aid in mould identification and found use in a number of academic institutions. However, it was never widely distributed and soon went out of print. In spite of this many teachers continued to use it and to request permission to make copies for classroom use. When the University of Toronto Press kindly returned publishing rights to me I made plans to publish it myself. My first intentions were to print copies as they were requested and distribute it at cost or at a slight profit. Later I considered distributing it on floppy disks. The advent of the Internet at last seemed to me to be the ideal vehicle for my text and I set out to revise it and translate it into the HTML format presented here.

The Internet version differs from its parent in several ways. Most notably, it is fragmented and highly integrated into the whole of the Mycology Web Pages. Each chapter is a separate web page. The key is divided into five parts, each contained on its own page. Each of the illustrations occupies a separate page and draws upon one or more images. It is clearly easier to use on a computer than to print. Nevertheless, printed copies are still often the easiest texts the have next to the microscope. To print this text it will be necessary either to print each of the separate pages and bind them together or merge all the parts with a word processor and print it as one. I leave that to the ingenuity of the user.

David Malloch
New Brunswick Museum
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Toronto

Introduction to the original edition

Many of the skills and techniques involved in the isolation, cultivation, and identification of mould fungi are more of an art than a science. Laboratory procedures considered routine by mycologists (scientists who study fungi) seem to be mysterious, well-guarded secrets to the uninitiated. Generally they are passed along from generation to generation of mycologists through a time-honoured system of apprenticeship. Access to these skills is difficult for the beginner; most books on the subject are rather advanced and contain such a quantity of information that it is not clear where to begin.

My experience with these problems comes from two sources: first my work with Canada Agriculture and later as a teacher at the University of Toronto. In working in a government laboratory I was frequently confronted with mould problems that had arisen in agricultural or industrial situations. Most often, the person responsible for the solution of these problems was a bacteriologist having only limited experience with fungi. The scattered and highly technical mycological literature was no help whatsoever; what was needed was a simple text demonstrating what moulds are and how they are grown and identified, and indicating which books would be useful for further work.

In university teaching I encounter students just learning about fungi who, like the bacteriologist, are confused by the complex literature in mycology. Identification of moulds is difficult for them, and usually requires the use of manuals containing large numbers of fungi in addition to those that are commonly seen in the class-room. What is needed here is a simple set of keys presenting the most frequently occurring moulds first, allowing the inexperienced student to arrive at a positive identification as quickly as possible. We have been using keys such as this in the classroom for several years and have gradually refined them.

The text that follows is what I hope will be a point of access to the often bewildering world of moulds. It is intended to be an introduction; in no way does it attempt to replace the many excellent and more detailed works that the beginner will gradually learn to use. In fact, it will have served its purpose most effectively when the reader no longer needs it. In the chapter on identification the necessary literature is cited for isolation and cultivation, the relevant literature is much more widely scattered, but the reader requiring more detailed information should refer to some of the excellent collections of specialist's techniques that are available, notably those of Booth (1971C), Fuller (1978), and Stevens (1974).