The monograph on Penicillium by Pr Philibert Biourge is 100 years old!


La monographie des Penicillium du Pr Philibert Biourge a 100 ans !

Aquarelles, dessins, photos macro- ou microscopiques. Laissez-vous émerveiller de janvier à décembre 2023 par un patrimoine iconographique d’hier remis à l’honneur à l’occasion du 100e anniversaire de la monographie des Penicillium du Professeur Philibert Biourge (08/04/1864-19/04/1942), microbiologiste et mycologue à l’Université catholique de Louvain, et fondateur de la Mycothèque de l’UCLouvain (BCCM/MUCL).

Parmi les 57 nouvelles espèces de Penicillium décrites par le Pr P. Biourge, la Mycothèque, dans la continuité de ce travail, vous dévoilera douze illustrations originales, d’hier et d’aujourd’hui.


The monograph on Penicillium by Pr Philibert Biourge is 100 years old!

Watercolours, drawings, macro- or microscopic photos. From January to December 2023, let yourself be amazed by an iconographic heritage of the past which is being honoured on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the monograph on Penicillium by Professor Philibert Biourge (08/04/1864-19/04/1942), a microbiologist and mycologist at the Université catholique de Louvain, and founder of the Mycothèque de l'UCLouvain (BCCM/MUCL).

Among the 57 new species of Penicillium described by Pr P. Biourge, the Mycothèque, in the continuity of this work, will unveil twelve original illustrations, from yesterday and today.







Described in 1923, the strain Penicillium martensii 118 dedicated to Pierre Martens (Professor of Botany at UClouvain) is still preserved at the BCCM/MUCL collection, under the current name Penicillium polonicum and number MUCL 29179.




Penicillium rubens is a species of moulds, described by Biourge in 1923 and was the first species known to produce the well-known antibiotic Penicillin, that saved millions of life.

The species was also described as Penicillium meleagrinum by Biourge the same year, illustrating the complexity of distinguishing Penicillium species at that time based on cultural or microscopic features.




Philibert Biourge was born 8th of April 1864. His monographic work on Penicillium was published in 1923, but most described species were observed, drawn, painted between 1914 & 1918. He died in April 1942.




The taxonomy of Penicillium has evolved a lot in the last 100 years, and more obviously since the implementation of phylogenetic studies. Penicillium purpureogenum, recorded by Biourge under the number 54b, is now accepted as Talaromyces purpureogenus.




Penicillium chrysogenum, a food contaminant, represented by an original painting of the strain Biourge 163, also described as P. chlorophaeum (Biourge 39) and now BCCM/MUCL 29132.




Penicillium, known for the antibiotic penicillin, also play a key role in the #cheese industry as ripening molds, for the famous French Roquefort (P. roquerforti) and Camembert (P. camemberti) cheeses, illustrated here by Biourge and BCCM/MUCL.




Penicillium minioluteum was described by François Dierckx in 1901. He was a student of Prof. P. Biourge, started to work on Penicillium in 1898, preparing a doctoral thesis. He also deserves recognition as an instrumentalist in Biourge's monograph.