Faculty Member

Richard Summerbell

Email Address(es)
Office Phone
416 516 1660
Office Address
Sporometrics Inc. 219 Dufferin Street, Suite 20-C Toronto, ON M6K 1Y9
Occupational & Environmental Health Division
Office of Global Public Health Education & Training
Associate Professor
SGS Status
Associate Member
Appointment Status
Status Only

Research Interests

  • Ecology and systematics of medically important fungi
  • Dermatophytes
  • Microbiology of the plant rhizosphere

Education & Training History

Dr. Richard Summerbell began his scientific career at the University of British Columbia in 1979 with an MSc thesis on the ecology and genetics of the basidiomycetous yeast Leucosporidium scottii. He was supervised by Prof. Robert J. Bandoni. He next studied under Prof. David Malloch at the University of Toronto and in 1985 completed a PhD thesis on the microfungal ecology of the rhizosphere of black spruce mycorrhizae. He did postdoctoral work with Prof. Julius Kane at the Ontario Ministry of Health under the auspices of the University of Toronto, and then, after receiving training in molecular genetics at the laboratory of Prof. James Anderson at U. Toronto, returned to the Ministry as a research scientist in 1988. He became chief mycologist for the Ministry in 1990 and continued to 2000. In 2000 he moved to become senior researcher and group leader for the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre (Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures), a branch of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences in Utrecht, the Netherlands. In 2007 he accepted the position of Research Director with Sporometrics Inc.

Dr. Summerbell is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on fungi affecting human and environmental health. He is the author of over 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers on fungi and bacteria, and is also the co-author of two popular laboratory manuals, Identifying Filamentous Fungi (G. St. Germain and R.C. Summerbell, Star Publishing, 1996) and Laboratory Handbook of Dermatophytes (J. Kane, R.C. Summerbell et al., Star Publishing, 1997). He is a recognized expert in three areas, indoor mycology, medical mycology and soil mycology. In indoor mycology, he is best known for contributing major chapters to books such as Microorganisms in home and work environments (edited by B. Flannigan, R. Samson and J. D. Miller. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam, 2001) and Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (edited by V.P. Kurup and A.J. Apter, 1998), as well as for co-authoring Canada’s influential guidelines for air quality in public buildings, Fungal contamination in public buildings: A guide to recognition and management (Health Canada, 1995). In medical mycology, apart from the textbooks listed above, he is best known for research on dermatophyte evolutionary systematics; Fusarium, Phaeoacremonium and Phialemonium species involved in human opportunistic infections; and diagnosis of onychomycosis. In soil mycology, he is an authority on the mycology of forest tree roots and recently served as principal editor of The missing lineages: phylogeny and ecology of endophytic and other enigmatic root-associated fungi. (Studies in Mycology vol. 53). He has also recently co-developed a body of ideas on how plant pathogens may evolve to become human pathogens. Dr. Summerbell served as the editor-in-chief of the journal Medical Mycology from 1999-2003, and has also been an associate editor of that journal as well as Studies in Mycology and Mycopathologia. In addition, he served for 10 years as an editorial board member of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • HMB436H Medical and Veterinary Mycology (co-taught with Dr. James Scott)

Professional Summary & Appointments

  • Associate Editor, Studies in Mycology, 2002-present
  • Editor‑in‑chief, Medical Mycology, 1999‑ 2003
  • Ex-officio member, ISHAM Council (International Society for Human and Animal Mycology), 1999-2003
  • Editor, Environmental mycology section, Mycopathologia, 1997‑ 2001
  • Editorial board member, Journal of Clinical Microbiology, July 1988‑ Dec 2000
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Medical and Veterinary Mycology (currently titled Medical Mycology), Jan 1995 ‑ May 1997

Honours & Awards

  • 1998 LabOntario Award for excellence in scientific research, awarded by Analytical Laboratories Council, Ontario Ministry of Health
  • 1985 Medical Research Council of Canada fellowship (postdoctoral) award
  • 1982 Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada Graduate Scholarship
  • 1981 University Fellowship, University of Toronto

Current Research Projects

  • Characterization of microbial communities on water-damaged building materials by next-generation community DNA sequencing
  • Population genetics of the Trichophyton mentagrophytes complex
  • Ecology of the whiskey fungus, Baudoinia compniacensis

Representative Publications

  • Summerbell RC, C. Gueidan C, Schroers H-J, de Hoog GS, Starinck M, van Iperen A, Rehner S, Arocha Rosete Y, Guarro J, Scott JA. 2011. Acremonium phylogenetic overview and revision of Gliomastix, Trichothecium and Sarocladium. Studies in Mycology 68: 139-162.
  • Schroers HJ, O’Donnell K, Lamprecht SC, Kammeyer PL, Johnson S, Sutton DA, Rinaldi MG, Geiser DM, Summerbell RC. 2009. Taxonomy and phylogeny of the Fusarium dimerum species group. Mycologia 101:44-70.
  • Ewaze JO, Summerbell RC, Scott JA. 2008. Ethanol physiology in the warehouse staining fungus, Baudoinia compniacensis. Mycol Res 112: 1373-1380.
  • Gräser Y, Scott J, Summerbell R. 2008. The new species concept in dermatophytes-a polyphasic approach. Mycopathologia. 166: 239-256
  • Hemashettar BM, Siddaramappa B, Munjunathaswamy BS, Pangi AS, Pattan J, Andrade AT, Padhye AA, Mostert L, Summerbell RC. Phaeoacremonium krajdenii, a cause of white grain eumycetoma. J Clin Microbiol 2006; 44:4619-4622.
  • Lee HB, Park JY, Jung HS, Summerbell RC. Phaeomoniella zymoides sp. nov. and Phaeomoniella pinifoliorum sp. nov., two new acid-tolerant epiphytic species isolated from pine needles in Korea. Mycologia 2006; 98:598-611.
  • Baddley JW, Mostert L, Summerbell RC, Moser SA. Phaeoacremonium parasiticum infection. J Clin Microbiol 2006; 44: 2207-2211.
  • Gräser Y, de Hoog GS, Summerbell RC. Dermatophytes: Recognizing species of clonal fungi. Med Mycol 2006; 44:199-209.
  • Summerbell RC. Root endophyte and mycorrhizosphere fungi of black spruce, Picea mariana, in a boreal forest habitat: influence of site factors on fungal distributions. Stud Mycol 2005; 53: 121–145.
  • Prenafeta-Boldú FX, Summerbell RC, de Hoog GS. Fungi growing on aromatic hydrocarbons: biotechnology’s unexpected encounter with biohazard? FEMS Microbiol Rev 2006; 30:109-30.
  • Baumgardner DJ, Summerbell RC, Krajden S, Alexopoulou I, Agrawal B, Bergeson M, Fuksa M, Bemis C, Baumgardner MA. Attempted isolation of Blastomyces dermatitidis from native shrews in northern Wisconsin, USA. Med Mycol 2005; 43: 413-416.
  • Strahilevitz J, Rahav G, Schroers HJ, Summerbell RC, Amitai Z, Goldschmied-Reouven A, Rubinstein E, Schwammenthal Y, Feinberg MS, Siegman-Igra Y, Bash E, Polacheck I, Zelazny A, Howard SJ, Cibotaro P, Shovman O, Keller N. An outbreak of Phialemonium infective endocarditis linked to intracavernous penile injections for the treatment of impotence. Clin Infect Dis. 2005; 40:781-6.
  • Summerbell RC, Cooper E, Bunn U, Jamieson F, Gupta AK. Onychomycosis: a critical study of techniques and criteria for confirming the etiologic significance of nondermatophytes. Med Mycol. 2005; 43: 39-59.
  • Summerbell RC, Krajden S, Levine R, Fuksa M. Subcutaneous phaeohyphomycosis caused by Lasiodiplodia theobromae and successfully treated surgically. Med Mycol. 2004; 42: 543-547.