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Meinhard Michael Moser (13 March 1924 – 30 September 2002) was an Austrian mycologist. His life's work principally concerned the taxonomy, chemistry and toxicity of the gilled mushrooms (Agaricales), especially those of the genus Cortinarius, and the ecology of ectomycorrhiza. His contributions to the Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas series of mycological guidebooks were well-regarded and widely used. In particular, his 1953 Blätter- und Bauchpilze (Agaricales und Gastromycetes), which became known as simply "Moser", saw several editions in both the original German and in translation.

Meinhard Michael Moser
Meinhard Moser.jpg
Moser, July 2002
Born(1924-03-13)13 March 1924
Died30 September 2002(2002-09-30) (aged 78)
Innsbruck, Austria
Alma materUniversity of Innsbruck
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Innsbruck
InfluencesRolf Singer
Author abbrev. (botany)M.M.Moser[1]

After showing interest in natural sciences in his youth, he studied at the University of Innsbruck. However, his university career was interrupted by the need to complete military service. He was stationed as a translator in eastern Europe during World War II, before being captured and placed in a prisoner of war camp. He was released in 1948, subsequently returning to Innsbruck to complete his studies. After completing his doctorate in 1950, Moser worked in England for six months, researching the symbiotic relationships between plants and fungi. Upon his return to Austria, he took up a position with the Federal Forestry Research Institute, where he remained until 1968, taking part in influential research on the use of mycorrhizal fungi in reforestation. He began lecturing at the University of Innsbruck in 1956, and in 1972 he became the inaugural head of the first Institute of Microbiology in Austria. He remained with the Institute until his retirement in 1991. His studies continued until his death in 2002. An influential mycologist, he received a number of awards throughout his life, and numerous fungal taxa have been named in his honour.


Life and careerEdit

Early life, university and military serviceEdit

Moser was born on 13 March 1924 in Innsbruck, Austria, to parents Margaretha and Josef Moser. His father was a teacher at a technical college in the city, while his mother was the daughter of the botanist Emil Johann Lambert Heinricher.[2] Moser attended primary school and grammar school in the city, and showed an interest in natural sciences, which was cultivated by Heinricher, from a young age. Moser's earliest paintings of mushrooms date to 1935, when he was 11 years old.[3]

In 1942, Moser enrolled at the University of Innsbruck, taking classes in botany, zoology, geology, physics and chemistry. At this time, Austria was under the control of Nazi Germany and did not exist as an independent state. Moser became an authorised mushroom controller and instructor, and it was officially requested that he attend mycological seminars around Germany and Austria. At these seminars, he met a number of prominent mycologists, including Ernst Thirring. Thirring showed Moser some of the issues surrounding the large genus Cortinarius, which remained an interest of Moser's for the rest of his life.[3] In 1943, aged 19 and after only three terms at Innsbruck, his studies were interrupted so he could perform military service. Having shown earlier promise in languages, he was trained as an interpreter, then sent to the Balkan Peninsula. He continued to show an active interest in mycology, collecting and identifying mushrooms and reading Rolf Singer's Das System der Agaricales.[3]

In 1945, when Moser was 21 years old and still carrying out active military service,[2] he was captured in Czechoslovakia by Soviet soldiers and made a prisoner of war. He was imprisoned in a labour camp in Crimea, in Ukraine.[4] While a prisoner, he was involved in repairing the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, Sevastopol.[5] His time at the camp was not easy; working in construction, he had to labour to his physical limits, and was involved in a serious crash that killed several other prisoners.[3] Moser was released in 1948,[3] and chose to return to his studies at the University of Innsbruck. His first publication came in 1949; "Über das Massenauftreten von Formen der Gattung Morchella auf Waldbrandflächen" ["Mass-fruiting of forms of the genus Morchella on forest-fire areas"] was published in the journal Sydowia.[6] In 1950, under the supervision of Arthur Pisek, Moser completed his doctoral thesis, Zur Wasserökologie der höheren Pilze, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung von Waldbrandflächen [Water relations in higher fungi with special emphasis on forest-fire areas].[2] During his time at university, he became a member of both the Société mycologique de France and the British Mycological Society.[7] Having become friends with prominent German mycologists during the War,[8] he was keen to re-establish academic relationships throughout Europe in the years following the conflict.[7]

England and the Federal Institute for Forestry ResearchEdit

Due to the quality of his doctoral work, Moser received a grant from the British Council and, in 1951, he moved to England, where he stayed for six months. There, he performed research in the laboratory of Jack Harley in Oxford, looking into the symbiosis between fungi and forest trees, and spent some time performing taxonomic studies at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[9] After his return to Austria, he was, in 1952, offered a post at the Federal Institute for Forestry Research at Imst, which he accepted. There, he applied what he had learnt about the symbiosis of fungi and trees to the practical issue of reforestation in the Alps, and developed a method for the use of ectomycorrhizal fungi for the "inoculation" of trees, which later became standard practice around the world.[10] Moser remained with the institute until 1968.[7]

In his time with the institute, Moser continued his taxonomic studies. In 1953, he published the first edition of his Die Blätter und Bauchpilze (Agaricales und Gastromycetes), a monograph of the Agaricales and Gastromycetes of central Europe,[10] containing 3150 taxa.[11] The work served as an update on Adalbert Ricken's Vademecum für Pilzfreunde (1918), though reflecting Moser's taxonomic views, which were highly influenced by Singer.[11] The book was part of a series named Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropa, edited by Helmut Gams.[10] The work, which became known simply as "Moser", was updated and republished numerous times over the following decades, and translated into both Italian and English,[11] with the latter translation being sponsored by Roger Phillips.[12] His monograph on the Agaricales was also published separately from this work. René Pomerleau described a 1967 reprint of the Agaricales monograph, containing descriptions of 2547 species, as "probably the most complete and up-to-date descriptive flora of this group of fungi for central Europe".[13] Die Blätter und Bauchpilze (Agaricales und Gastromycetes) became important for the study of biodiversity in and out of Europe,[10] and was a "much used and appreciated field manual".[14] The work continued to be used as an authoritative reference for several decades; in 1981, it was still being called "the most-used and most authoritative handbook on larger European fleshy fungi".[15]

University of InnsbruckEdit

In 1956, while still a researcher at the Federal Institute,[16] Moser began lecturing on microbiology at the University of Innsbruck, with the title of "Privatdozent".[11] During this time, he continued to publish. His monograph on the genus Phlegmacium, a taxon now considered to be part of Cortinarius, was published in 1960 as part of Die Pilze Mitteleuropas series.[17] Unlike the previous three books in the series, which were all written by German authors, the work addressed mushrooms that were of less interest to amateur mycologists; for instance, the genus was not considered to contain any significant edible species. The book drew upon Moser's expertise concerning mycorrhizal relationships. It listed 166 species, including some "exotic" taxa. Some of the listed species were described for the first time in that volume.[14] The illustrations, which came in the form of a number of coloured plates,[18] were mostly Moser's own work; Singer described these in a review of the book as "both in original execution and reproduction among the best that have been published".[19] Discussing the book as a whole, Singer said that the volume, "outstanding for its good print, attractive appearance, and interesting contents, should be present in every mycological library".[19]

In 1963, Moser published a second work in the Kleine Kryptogamenflora von Mitteleuropa series,[11] Ascomyceten (Schlauchpilze).[20] This work was a monograph on the Ascomycetes,[10] focussing on the Discomycetes.[20] Though not as well known as his earlier book,[11] it was well received in the mycological community. The mycologist Richard Korf, reviewing the work in an article published in Mycologia, said that "the book belongs on the shelf of every mycological library in Europe", praising the "[e]xcellent, workable keys to the orders, families, genera, and European species". Korf wrote that, "[i]f a single fault can be found, it is surely the lack of documentation provided".[20] However, a combination of a lack of time and Moser's comparative lack of expertise in Ascomycetes prevented subsequent editions of the work.[11]

Moser was promoted to Associate University Professor in 1964.[16] Two years later, the Faculty of Science of the University of Innsbruck recommended that a chair of microbiology should be created at the Botanical Institute in Innsbruck. The Federal Ministry of Education accepted the recommendation. Moser was the only candidate for the position, and was unanimously named by a number of leading European botanists and mycologists for the post in 1967.[10] Subsequently, in 1968, Moser was promoted to full professor,[16] and, in 1972, Moser became the head of the newly established Institute of Microbiology, the first of its kind in Austria.[10] He remained in charge of the Institute until his retirement. He taught on a wide range of subjects, including the taxonomy of fungi, ecology of fungi, mycogeography, bacteria, viruses, chemotaxonomy, molecular genetics, microbial toxicology, immunology and symbiosis. During his career at the university, he oversaw over 60 doctoral theses, in addition to a number of diploma theses.[11] In 1970, Moser became the president of the Austrian Mycological Society, taking over after the death of the previous post-holder, Kurt Lohwag. Lohwag, in turn, had taken up the position after the death of his predecessor, Thirring, earlier that year.[21] Moser remained the society's president for 21 years.[22]

Moser published Cortinarius Fr. und nahe verwandte Gattungen in Südamerika in 1975,[note 1][10] which was coauthored by Egon Horak.[23] The work, along with his earlier monograph on "Phlegmacium", proved to be some of Moser's most important, serving to encourage others to engage with Cortinarius in a meaningful way.[10] Cortinarius Fr. und nahe verwandte Gattungen in Südamerika was a study of Cortinarius, Dermocybe and Stephanopus, a new genus first described in that work, in South America, and was dedicated to Singer. The work contained descriptions of 276 new species.[23] Alexander H. Smith stressed the significance of the work, saying "Anyone who has not worked in the systematics of Cortinarius cannot fully appreciate the magnitude and importance of this work to the general subject of the distribution and speciation of the higher fungi."[24]

In 1983, in recognition of his forthcoming 60th birthday, an article dedicated to Moser was published in Sydowia. The piece, compiled by Franz Schinner, C. Furrer-Siogas and Egon Horak, contained a detailed biography and a full bibliography of the 116 research publications Moser had authored or co-authored between 1949 and 1983.[25] Moser, writing with Walter Jülich, published the first volume of the book series Farbatlas der Basidiomyzeten in 1985, presenting specimens of various Basidiomycota taxa. By the time of Moser's death, 19 volumes had been published;[26] some subsequently published volumes have listed Moser as an author.[27]

Retirement and deathEdit

In 1991, at the earliest possible date, Moser retired from his teaching position to avoid the administrative burden and to focus on his research into Cortinarius and related genera.[10] After his retirement, he continued to work heavily, typically beginning at 5 am.[28] In 1992, he researched the presence of Agaricales in the Crimean Mountains, identifying 70 previously undocumented species, including some new to science.[29] In 1995, in celebration of Moser's 70th birthday, a supplement of Sydowia was published in his honour.[30]

Moser died on 30 September 2002. After returning from 7th International Congress in Oslo, Norway, he suffered a series of heart attacks. After being admitted to hospital, his condition rapidly declined before his death.[28] Obituaries were published in a variety of academic journals, including Mycological Progress,[31] Mycological Research,[32] Sydowia,[33] Österreichische Zeitschrift für Pilzkunde,[34] and Berichte des Naturwissenschaftlichen-medizinischen Verein Innsbruck.[35] Horak and colleagues, writing for the journal Mycological Research, described Moser's death as "an irreplaceable loss to the international community of mycological science",[36] and, writing in Sydowia, they said that the "mycological world has lost one of its pillars of taxonomy for agarics and boletes. His former students, assistants and collaborators at the Microbiological Institute at the University of Innsbruck, his professional colleagues in the mycological community worldwide and his many friends will deeply regret the loss of a distinguished researcher, teacher, leader and mentor."[37] In a short obituary of Moser as part of their report on the Eighth International Symposium on Arctic-Alpine Mycology, mycologists Cathy Cripps and Joe Ammirati called him a "gentlemanly scholar" who "led us in his quiet way across the tundra and down many dichotomous paths".[38]


Over the course of his career, Moser collected over 25,000 mycological specimens. He first described around 420 Cortinarius species and around 80 other species, including both agarics and boletes. He circumscribed three new genera: Singeromyces (1966), Stephanopus (1975) and Anamika (2002).[39] Much of his research covered four key areas: the taxonomy of Agaricales—including the classical morphotaxonomy and the chemotaxonomy of the order—the toxicity of the chemical constituents of members of the same order, and the ecology of ectomycorrhiza.[40]

In the early decades of his career, Moser sought to clarify the taxonomic identity of European fungi by collecting specimens to be described as neotypes in the localities studied by Elias Magnus Fries, but this was no longer necessary after changes to nomenclatural rules that took effect in 1981. Among the Agaricales, Moser's interest was primarily in the complex genus Cortinarius. He published book-length works addressing Cortinarius taxa found in Europe and, co-writing with Horak, South America.[41] Moser, working with Joe Ammirati, contributed to research on the genus in North America,[12] and also examined Asian and Australasian taxa. He had a particular interest in Arctic–alpine habitats, and he documented, painted and published on his collections in these and other sites around the world.[41] Moser initially doubted the usefulness of molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Agaricales, but later contributed to research in this area.[42]

Cortinarius mushrooms are often highly colourful. Moser "made the first successful steps" towards studying the pigments in these mushrooms, hoping to find criteria for separating taxa, and some of his PhD students studied these elements in depth. Cooperating with biochemists, he produced important work on the biosynthesis of pigments.[43] Moser was also interested in the toxicity of the Agaricales, and was—with his students—involved with research on the toxin orellanine.[43]

Moser's work on ectomycorrhiza, though perhaps unknown to many researchers familiar with his taxonomic work, was notable due to its focus on the fungal partners in the relationship. He engaged in a large amount of research on woodland in the transitional zone between subalpine and alpine habitats. His published results included the description of new taxa.[44] In 1960, Singer referred to Moser as "one of the pioneers of mycorrhiza research, both basic and applied".[14]

Personal lifeEdit

At the end of his life, Moser lived in the village of Vill, near Innsbruck.[45] According to some of his colleagues, "Moser was rather shy, taciturn, formal and constrained in public or in official functions. In a relaxed atmosphere among students, collaborators or friends, he became extrovert and surprised many by his sense of humour and ready wit."[46] He had a commitment to both mycological research and mycological education,[47] and was fluent in several languages.[8] He was known as an intellectual and a wide-reader, with interests in fine art, classical music, literature, exploration, geography and botany.[48] In addition to reading and walking, he enjoyed stamp collecting and growing plants from seeds he had collected on his research trips.[45] He was a capable cook, often creating mushroom-based dishes for guests, though was on one occasion poisoned during "gastronomic experiments with Phaeolepiota and Agaricus".[43] He was also known to make chanterelle schnapps, drinking it with his students and sharing his recipe with colleagues.[12]


Among the fungal taxa named after Moser is species Tricholoma moseri (pictured).

Throughout his life, Moser received a number of awards, including the Clusius Medal (Budapest 1978) and the Kardinal Innitzer Preis (Vienna 1985). In 1986, he was made a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.[49] Having already been elected as an honorary member of the Ukrainian Botanical Society, he became a foreign member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in 1992, the first mycologist to be elected.[29] He was recognised by a number of mycological societies,[49] including becoming an honorary member of the Mycological Society of America in 1987,[50] and Centenary Fellow of the British Mycological Society in 1996.[49] He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lyon in 1984, and in 1990 was awarded honorary citizenship of Borgotaro, Italy.[49]

The genera Moserella (Pöder & Scheuer, 1994) and Chromosera (Redhead, Ammirati & Norvell, 1995) were named in Moser's honour, as were the species Acariniola moseri (T. Majewsky & J. Wisn.), Conocybe moseri (Watling), Cortinarius moseri ((E. Horak) E. Horak), Cortinarius moserianus (Bohus), Cortinarius meinhardii (Bon), Entoloma moserianum (Noordel.), Gerronema moseri (Singer), Gymnopus moseri (Antonín & Noordel.), Hebeloma moseri (Singer), Hydropus moserianus (Bas), Hygrocybe moseri (Bon), Lactarius moseri (Harmaja), Lasiosphaeria moseri (O. Hilber), Leucoagaricus moseri (Wasser), Peziza moseri (Aviz.-Hersh. & Nemlich), Phaeocollybia moseri (Band.-Muñoz & Guzmán), Psathyrella moseri (Singer), Psilocybe moseri (Guzmán), Thaxteriola moseri (T. Majewsky & J. Wisn.), Tricholoma moseri (Singer), Tricholoma moserianum (Bon), Tubaria moseri (Raithelh.), and Wardomyces moseri (W. Gams).[28]


A comprehensive bibliography of Moser's work published with a 2003 obituary in Sydowia listed over 210 sole-authored or co-authored publications, with a further eight submitted or in print at time of publication.[51] Moser's major works include:

  • Moser, M. M. (1953). Blätter- und Bauchpilze (Agaricales und Gastromycetes). Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas. Bd. 2. Stuttgart: G. Fischer. pp. 1–282.
  • Moser, M. M. (1955). Blätter- und Bauchpilze. Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas. Bd. 2 (2nd ed.). Stuttgart: G. Fischer. pp. 1–327.
  • Moser, M. M. (1960). Die Gattung Phlegmacium (Schleimköpfe). Die Pilze Mitteleuropas. Vol. 4. Bad Heilbrunn: Julius Klinkhardt. pp. 1–440.
  • Moser, M. M. (1963). Ascomyceten (Schlauchpilze). Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas. Bd. 2a. Stuttgart: G. Fischer. pp. 1–147.
  • Moser, M. M. (1967). Röhrlinge und Blätterpilze. Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas. Bd. 2b/2 (3rd ed.). Stuttgart: G. Fischer. pp. 1–443.
  • Moser, M. M.; Horak, E. (1975). Cortinarius Fr. und nahe verwandte Gattungen in Südamerika. Nova Hedwigia Beiheft 52: 1–628.
  • Moser, M. M. (1978). Röhrlinge und Blätterpilze. Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas. Bd. 2b/2 (4th ed.). Stuttgart: G. Fischer. pp. 1–532.
  • Moser, M. M. (1978). Fungorum Rariorum Icones Coloratae. Vol. 7. Vaduz: J. Cramer. pp. 1–48.
  • Moser, M. M. (1980). Guida alia determinazione dei funghi. (Polyporales, Boletales, Agaricales, Russulales). Trento: Saturnia. pp. 1–565.
  • Moser, M. M. (1983). Röhrlinge und Blätterpilze. Kleine Kryptogamenflora Mitteleuropas. Bd. 2b/2 (5th ed.). Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer. pp. 1–533.
  • Moser, M. M. (1983). Keys to Agarics and Boleti (Polyporales, Boletales, Agaricales, Russulales). London: R. Phillips. pp. 1–535.
  • Moser, M. M.; Jülich, W. (1985-2002). Farbatlas der Basidiomyzeten. Lieferungen 1-19. Stuttgart: G. Fischer.[note 2]
  • Moser, M. M. (1986). Guida alia determinazione dei funghi (Polyporales, Boletales, Agaricales, Russulales) (2nd ed.). Trento: Saturnia. pp. 1–565.
  • Moser, M. M. (2001). Rare, debated and new taxa of the genus Cortinarius (Agaricales). Fungi non Delineati. Vol. 15. Alassio: Libreria Mykoflora. pp. 1–57.
  • Keller, G.; Moser, M. M. (2001). Die Cortinariaceae Österreichs. Catalogus Florae Austriae. Bd. 3/2. Vienna: Kommission für Interdisziplinäre Ökologische Studien. pp. 1–220.


  1. ^ The work was published as an issue of Beihefte zur Nova Hedwigia, a supplementary journal to Nova Hedwigia.
  2. ^ Further volumes in the series continued to be published after Moser's death, still bearing his name.[27]


  1. ^ "Moser, Meinhard Michael". International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Horak et al. 2003a, p. 506
  3. ^ a b c d e Horak et al. 2002, p. 331
  4. ^ Horak et al. 2002, p. 331; Wasser 1995, p. 2
  5. ^ Wasser 1995, p. 3
  6. ^ Horak et al. 2002, pp. 331, 508
  7. ^ a b c Moser et al. 2003b, p. 2
  8. ^ a b Horak et al. 2003b, p. 1
  9. ^ Horak et al. 2003a, pp. 506–7
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Horak et al. 2003a, p. 507
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Horak et al. 2002, p. 332
  12. ^ a b c Kibby 2003, p. 16
  13. ^ Pomerleau 1968, p. 1126
  14. ^ a b c Singer 1960, p. 824
  15. ^ Korf 1981
  16. ^ a b c Horak et al. 2003b, p. 3
  17. ^ Horak et al. 2003a, p. 507; Singer 1960, p. 823
  18. ^ Singer 1960, p. 823
  19. ^ a b Singer 1960, p. 825
  20. ^ a b c Korf 1964
  21. ^ Krisai-Greilhuber and Moser 1999, p. 102
  22. ^ Hausknecht 2003, p. 210
  23. ^ a b Smith 1975, p. 1078
  24. ^ Smith 1975, p. 1079
  25. ^ Schinner et al. 1983
  26. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, pp. 5, 8
  27. ^ a b Benkert 2004; Benkert 2005; Benkert 2006
  28. ^ a b c Horak et al. 2002, p. 334
  29. ^ a b Wasser 1995, p. 2
  30. ^ Wasser 1995
  31. ^ Horak et al. 2002
  32. ^ Horak et al. 2003a
  33. ^ Horak et al. 2003b
  34. ^ Hausknecht 2003
  35. ^ Pöder and Peintner 2003
  36. ^ Horak et al. 2003a, p. 508
  37. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, p. 8
  38. ^ Cripps and Ammirari 2010, p. 8
  39. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, p. 5
  40. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, pp. 3–7
  41. ^ a b Horak et al. 2003b, p. 4
  42. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, pp. 4–5
  43. ^ a b c Horak et al. 2003b, p. 6
  44. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, pp. 5–6
  45. ^ a b Horak et al. 2003b, p. 7
  46. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, p. 7; cf. Kibby 2003, p. 15
  47. ^ Wasser 1995, p. 1
  48. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, p. 7; Wasser 1995, p. 4
  49. ^ a b c d Horak et al. 2003a, pp. 507–8
  50. ^ "Honorary members". Mycological Society of America. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  51. ^ Horak et al. 2003b, pp. 8–17

Cited textsEdit