New orange mould to bear future Dutch king's name

11 April 2013

Researchers at the Fungal Biodiversity Centre (CBS-KNAW) have named a recently discovered orange-coloured mould, Penicillium vanoranjei, after His Royal Highness Willem- Alexander, the Prince of Orange, who is to ascend to the throne of the Netherlands when his mother, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, abdicates at the end of April.

Four other species belonging to the same genus and discovered at the same time have been named Penicillium maximae, Penicillium amaliae, Penicillium alexiae and Penicillium arianeae, in honour of the Prince’s wife and future Queen Consort HRH Princess Máxima and their three daughters Princess Amalia, Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane.

The announcement was made by the Fungal Biodiversity Centre during an international symposium in Amsterdam. The Centre has the world’s largest collection of living micro-organisms.

The penicillium that bears the Crown Prince’s name is unusual for its orange colour, a very rare phenomenon in the mycological world. 'The orange colour is astonishing; none of our researchers had ever seen anything like it before,' said the Centre’s director, Pedro Crous. 'We are presenting our discovery at around the same time as the Dutch Crown Prince ascends the throne, and so we decided to pay a humorous but respectful tribute by naming the new moulds after the new King of the Netherlands and his family.’

The researchers have described their discovery in an article entitled 'Five new Penicillium species in section Sclerotiora: a tribute to the Dutch Royal family'. The article has been published in the international mycological journal Persoonia and is now available online.

Penicillia are known for their beneficial properties, for example when they take the form of antibiotics (penicillin) and other medicines. Researchers will be examining the new species for similar properties.