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Scientists & Staff

Karen Nakasone

Biological and Environmental Influences on Forest Health and Productivity
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608-231-9212

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Current Research

My research focus is the identification, classification and phylogenetics of wood-decay fungi, especially crust-like (corticioid) species. These fungi are usually small, inconspicuous, and not as well known as their larger cousins, the polypores and mushrooms.

Current research projects include:

  • revisionary taxonomy of Resinicium, Dendrothele, Phlebia, and Phanerochaete
  • inferring phylogenetic relationships in the above genera
  • examined type specimens of corticioid species, especially those with spines
  • developing identification tools for corticioid species

Research Interests

  • Develop traditional and web-based monographs of corticioid species with spines
  • Expand taxonomic research into other wood-decay fungal genera

Why This Research is Important

Correct identification of decay fungi are important to establish if a species is nonnative for researchers studying the impact of invasive species in forests and managers interested in conserving biological and functional diversity of fungi to keep forests healthy. The stability of fungal names is essential because valuable information is tied to a name. Fungal names are based on type specimens, thus, it is necessary to study types to establish firm, stable names. Establishing phylogenetic relationships among decay fungi are desirable because critical physiological, biological and genetic properties can be inferred from understanding relatedness among species and genera. This information is valuable to researchers studying the roles of decay fungi in pathology, nutrient cycling, tree establishment and growth, and forest health and resiliency. Oftentimes, unusual and unexpected phylogenetic relationships result in new insights into fungal taxonomy and biology. By providing researchers with the tools for accurate and reliable species identification, the role and full impact of decay fungi in the health and productivity of forests can be studied.


  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Botany Department, Ph.D. ,
  • University of Arizona, Department of Plant Pathology, M.S. ,
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Plant Pathology, B.S. ,

Professional Organizations

  • Mycological Society of America

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Scientist Finds New Species of Wood-inhabiting Fungi From Belize, Venezuela, and RĂ©union (2013)
Most wood-inhabiting fungi are essential to sustain healthy forests and biodiversity but a few cause serious diseases. Forest Service mycologists are part of the scientific effort to identify new species. Understanding fungal taxonomy, which indicates the relationship of species, is a powerful predictive tool for evaluating beneficial and potential threats from forest fungi.

Last updated on : 28-Sep-2016