Lubomira Burchardt, Radosław Antonowicz
Chair of Hydrobilogy, Institute of Environmental Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, ul. Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznań, Poland, e-mail: hydro@amu.edu.pl


It all started in 1962, in the USA, where during a SIL congress, the International Phycological Society came to being. Prof. Jadwiga Siemińska was one of its founding members. The idea of getting together those phycologists who worked in various scientific centres in Poland grew in magnitude during the ‘ 69 Tatra Scientific Session of the Hydrobiological Society in Zakopane, The ardent efforts of prof. Siemińska bore fruit in 1972, when, at the 40th Conference of Polish Botanical Society in Warsaw, its Statute having been approved, the Phycological Section of the PBS was formed.

At the first meeting of Polish phycologists in Cracow, 1974, with the following in attendance: prof. dr K. Starmach, prof. J. Siemińska, prof.. I. Dąmbska, prof. R. Bohr, dr J. Sosnowska, prof. T. Mrozińska-Webb, dr T. Bednarz, dr C. Gazdowa, doc dr K. Wasylik, prof. I. Wojciechowski, mgr D. Maciejewska, mgr K. Hojda, mgr B. Tarnowska, prof. B. Kawecka, dr I. Kaczmarska, dr J. Pudo ( Siemińska:1991), the assembled passed the regulations of the PBS Phycological Section. A year later, in September 1975, the Section’s Board was elected, prof. Karol Starmach in chair, prof. Ryszard Bohr as vice-chairman while prof. Iwo Wojciechowski assumed the function of the secretary.

The field site of the Institute of Ecology, Polish Academy of Sciences in Mikołajki was selected for the 1st all-Poland Phycological Conference. On the motion of prof. R. Bohr, the conference chairman, the attendees undertook to provide lists of publications in phycology on the basis of materials collected in their scientific centres.

The 2nd all-Poland Conference of Phycological Section, entitled “Algae communities of artificial rivers and lakes” took place a year later, in May 1981 under the chairmanship of prof. R.Bohr at the Nicolaus Copernicus University holiday resort on the lake Bachotek near Brodnica. The Section Secretary, dr Iwo Wojciechowski acquainted the participants with the new rules approved on the 21st March by the General Board of Polish Botanical Society, and also proposed to expand the Section Board by the honourable function of the second vice-chairperson, assumed by prof. Jadwiga Siemińska.

Polish phycologists were prevented from meeting again by the martial law. Only at the beginning of June 1984 did the 3rd Conference of Phycologists take place, in the Iława Limnological Station of the Nicolaus Coperniucs University. This meeting was devoted to the research of phytoplankton of standing waters. Two months later, on 29th August 1984, a tragic death took away prof. Izabela Dąmbska, an outstanding scientific authority, associated with Adam Mickiewicz University and the Greater Poland National Park. Much of prof. Dąmbska work was devoted to the class Charophyta, which gave her a lasting place in the history of phycological research (Burchardt, 2004).

Gołysz hosted the 4th Conference of Phycological Section on 16th-17th May 1985. The event was organised by the Department of Water Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences in Cracow. The unforgettable field session, meetings with our professors and friends make the recollection of the period an intense affair, while the toast “May love abound!”, raised by prof. Karol Starmach at the celebratory dinner unites us until today.

The 5th meeting of the Phycological Section, organised yet again by the NCU Toruń, was held on 8th-11th May 1986 in Charzykowo. The dominating theme were the lobelian lakes and their functioning, diversely evaluated by Polish researchers (L. Burchardt, I.Wojciechowski). The comprehensive discussion included the concept of computer-aided research (A.Batko).

All those interested in algae met again a year later, in May 1987 in Jastarnia on the Hel peninsula (6th Conference) The meeting was hosted by reader Marcin Pliński from University of Gdańsk, while dr Andrzej Witkowski was the guide in the memorable field excursion to the algal mats. During the session, reader A. Batko explained the possibilities stemming from the application of statistic analysis in the philogenetic evaluation of algae and their communities. A kilometre-long printout of the calculation covered the entire floor of the session room. That year, the vice-chairman of the Section Board, Chancellor of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, an eminent hydrobiologist and ecologist, Professor Ryszard Bohr died on 19th December. Only two months later, on 2nd March 1988 we bade our last farewells to out beloved Professor Karol Starmach, the Section’s chairman of many years’ standing, a unique botanist, hydrobiologist, professor of the Jagiellonian University and a member of the PAN.

On 12th-15th 1988, the 7th Conference of Polish phycologists was held on the lake Piaseczno, hosted by prof. Iwo Wojciechowski and his associates from the Academy of Agriculture in Lublin. The beauty of dystrophic basins and the effects of recultivation of the Piaseczno lake became a lasting memory to all participants.

Institute of Botany of the University of Warsaw played host to the members of Phycological Section on 25th-28th May 1989 in the Camaldolese monastery on the Wigry lake (8th Conference). The atmosphere we had there made us all sorry we had to go back home. In September that year (23.09.89) our Friend, Andrzej Oleksowicz passed away. The emotions of work on Spitsbergen, the strains equipment loading work at Murmansk and the hardships of the voyage irreversibly speeded up his departure. His life is remembered, among others, in his publications, in the collection of drawings of desmids from the Kashubian lakes and the superior habilitation thesis on various types of phytoplankton dynamics in the lakes of the Kashubian Switzerland.

The 9th Conference of Phycologists of 1990, organised by prof. L. Burchardt and the associates from the Department of Hydrobiology of AMU, lasted six days. The centre theme, related to the evolution of freshwater basins, was introduced during a scientific session on the Ostrów Lednicki, then followed several days of sessions in the Czerniejewo palace. A considerable participation of foreign guests facilitated the penetration of our works abroad. The sessions must have been truly exhausting, since when asked today, the participants recollect chiefly “the bonfire”. The final, field session organised to cover several lakes in the Kórnik area. While sampling on the ferry, the scientific zeal of Jacek Sanecki enabled him to do water research thoroughly and directly.

The 10th jubilee meeting under the direction of prof. K. Wołowski was held in Bukowno on the Krakowsko-Częstochowska Upland. Attendance of over fifty persons indicated growing interest in the issues of algae and the development of Phycological Section of the Polish Botanic Society (Siemińska, 1991).

The next round of 10 phycological meetings was initiated in 1992 by the Łódź centre (11th Conference). The participants (prof. J. Kadłubowska with the staff of Department of Algology of the University of Łódź) well remember the presentation of diatoms from the Źródło Niebieskie (dr. B.Rakowska) and the discussion of problems related to the functioning of the Sulejowski Basin. A different sort of attraction was the “bear grub” at the banquet, and the beautifully restored Palace of the Poznański family in Łódź.

The 12th International Phycological Symposium: Ecology and taxonomy of algae ”The Green Lungs of Poland”, Płociczno, May 1993, was organised by the Academy of Agriculture in Lublin and the University of Warsaw. During the paper presentation session, the director of the Wigry National Park encouraged the phycologists to conduct research in that area. The following speakers attempted to bring us round to the application of cardinal spaces in the variety analysis of the Coleochaete (A.Batko) and the ecosystem stability assessment on the basis of the Oscillatioriales biomass (A. Batko). The most surprising and the highest ranking of the phycological information was the presentation of 3 new diatom species, characterised from proterozoic marbles from Przeworno, delivered by prof. J .Siemińska. A singularly enjoyable item of the agenda was the “Miss Algoida” contest.

The 13th Conference of phycologists took place in September 1994. The hosts of the meetings in Olsztyn and Stare Jabłonki were the fellow scientists from the Inland Fishing Institute (dr A. Hutorowicz) and the then Academy of Technology and Agriculture. The slogan for the Conference was “Algae communities – development and diversification factors”. The central papers : “Look who’s talking – algae or algologists” (A. Batko) “Changes in the phytoplankton structure and production in eight eutrophic lakes of the Masuria Lake District” (W.Krzywosz) and “What triggers the onset of cyanophytes?” (J. Barica). The field session included the excursion to the nature reserves „Jezioro Czarne” and “Sosny Taborskie” as well as the Museum of Country Architecture. The atmosphere in the camping site cabins was heated, although as the dawn drew on the assistance of portable heaters was indispensable.

The 14th Conference of the Phycological Section run simultaneously with the 50th Conference of Polish Botanic Society in Cracow. The event was organised by the Institute of Botany and Department of Water Biology of the PAS. The paper session included presentations of: prof. H. Bucka’s, on the toxicity of plankton bluegreen algae in the potable water basins, prof. H. Lange-Bertalot’s on the diatoms as infallible indicators of river pollution and prof. I. Wojciechowski’s on the long-term changes in structure and productivity of algae communities in the Łęczycko-Włodawskie lakes. The field session, arranged by dr Jacek Sarnecki provided much intense experience, especially on the „Na Czerwonym” peat bog and during the rafting in the gorges of Dunajec river.

The team of prof. T. Skowroński, in cooperation with the M. Curie Skłodowska University, organised the 15th Conference of PBS Phycological Section (10th – 12th May 1996 – Lublin, Krasnobród, Zwierzyniec). Prominent among the speakers were our friends from Slovakia (prof. F.Hindak: on bluegreen algae blooms) and Canada (dr J. Barica on manipulative capacities in the bluegreen algae bloom period). Prof. T. Skawiński demonstrated reaction of eukaryotic algae to heavy metals and the phylochelatine synthesis. The celebratory supper in Kransobród was enriched by the original prizes of the “Management”, such as a single wellie or a fishing boot in recognition of the dancing skill of phycologists (F.Hindak, L. Burchardt ).

16th Conference (Kashubian Region, Wdzydze Kiszewskie, May 1997), entitled “Causes and effects of bluegreen algae and algae bloom” was organised by prof. Marcin Pliński with a team of phycologists from Gdańsk. The Conference’s beginning was a sorrowful moment, as we remembered the late prof. A. Batko. Hania Werblan Jakubiec presented a collection of His original and pioneering methods of phycological research on the basis of computer programs that He developed. The “bloom” papers started with the presentation of dr G.A. Godd from the University of Dundee (UK), demonstrating the range of influences of bluegreen algae toxins on human health. The scientific discussion was complemented by a field session presenting the lakes and rivers of the Kashubian Switzerland, plus some regional music, and brief introduction to Kashubian alphabet and a ship cruise, where the Kashubian mugs founded by the organisers came in very handy indeed.

The same year, our Colleague, Andrzej Szyjkowski, died. Having participated in our meetings, He initiated work towards bioindicator evaluation of the flowing waters, especially the Odra river.

The 17th Conference of the PBS Phycological Section (May 1998, Łukęcin) was dedicated to prof. Jadwiga Siemińska who celebrated the 50th anniversary of scientific work. The organisers (dr W. Kowalski and dr A. Witkowski) suggested presenting papers concerning issues indicated by the meeting’s title, i.e. “Algae as universal bioindicators of environmental degradation, with particular focus on the Odra river estuary”. The participants will certainly recall the picturesque travel from Szczecin over Jezioro Szmaragdowe and the Atlantic-type peat bog “Wrzosiec”. Not easily forgotten was the organ concert in Kamień Pomorski and the exquisite banquet and the gifts of tees with the print of diatoms named after respective phycologists.

The following (18th) meeeting of phycologists was held in 1999, in Kielce and Wólka Milanowska. The chief organisers, on the premises of the Higher Pedagogical College in Kielce were prof. T. Mrozińska and the staff of the college’s Institute of Geography. The participants became acquainted with the environmental assets of the Świętokrzyski Region, the Malik Mountain geological station, “Białe Ługi” peat bog area and the Museum of Jędrzejowo. The well-prepared printed material for the field session entitled “Biodiversity of algae and bluegreen algae as a method on water environment evaluation” always allows to refresh the memories of Kielce meeting.

Academy of Technology and Agriculture in Bydgoszcz and Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń helped to organise the 19th Conference in Tleń, 2000. The conference was attended by about 100 phycologists. The organisers: dr. M. Luścińska and M. Wiśniewska suggested an interesting title of the plenary session, i.e. “Plant taxonomy and ecology – a marriage of reason?” The attractive water mill and the playful pronouncements of the contest judges during the celebratory supper will be remembered for a long time.

The Conference of the Polish Botanic Society in Poznań (September 2001, AMU Poznań) was an occasion for the 20th symposium of the Phycological Section to take place as well. Despite tremendous crowds, the organisers (prof. L Burchardt with the AMU Department of Hydrobiology team) managed to get phycologists integrated during the paper session, the field session, covering the lakes of Kórnicko-Zaniemyskie Trough, Biskupińskie lake and at the banquet.

Dr J. Matuła (Academy of Agriculture in Wrocław) organised the phycological Conference in May 2002, with venues in Sosnówka Górna and Karpacz. The breathtaking landscape and interesting field excursions were well matched by the fruitful sessions. The celebratory supper, featuring roast wild boar and spectacular layer cake was dedicated to prof. J. Siemińska and prof. H.Bucka.

We met for the 23rd time in Olsztyn and Mierki, at a symposium discussing “Algae and the biological state of waters – threat or support?”. The organisational effort was borne by dr Iwona Łaźniewska and the dean of the Faculty of Biology, University of Warmia and Mazury, who actively participated in our discussions.

The 23rd Conference of phycologists was held in September 2004 in Toruń and Bydgoszcz, also accompanying the Conference of Polish Botanic Society. The organisers of the phycological symposium from the Bydgoszcz Chapter (dr M. Wiśniewska, dr B. Paczuska) and from Toruń (dr M.Luścińska) provided us with good conditions to meet, despite the numerous sessions of other PBS sections. During a spontaneously arranged dinner in the old town part of Toruń, a proposal emerged to establish an autonomous phycological organisation, the Polish Phycological Society. The idea received ardent support from our foreign guests (dr Elliot Schubert with wife, and dr H Marshall)

In May 2005 (24th Conference of phycologists), on the Mierzeja Wiślana, in the town of Krynica Morska, the University of Gdańsk and prof. M. Pliński with team took on the duty of organising the event for the third time. A topic widely discussed were the issues of toxic bloom of bluegreen algae and the need to implement and integrated monitoring system of these algae. Marvellous weather, a ship cruise and the viewings of varied environmental complexes of Mierzeja Wiślana, including Pliński’s Trojanka were truly memorable events.

In December 2005 dr K. Czernaś (Academy of Agriculture), organised an anniversary meeting in Lublin, celebrating prof. Iwo Wojciechowski. The awareness of the fact that the Professor is seriously ill marred the joy of meeting Him, making it a more exceptional and solemn affair. We bade Iwo farewell a month later.

„Algae and their changes over time”, the 25th Conference of phycologists was held on 16-19th 2006 in Poznań and on the Łagowskie lake on the Lubuskie Territories. It was also the third time the team of Department of Hydrobiology at the AMU, under the leadership of prof. L. Burchardt, had staged the event. The conference featured presentations of numerous results, at once original and interesting, of research into taxonomy, ecology and biochemistry of algae.

The mounting need to facilitate the development of phycology as a science, and the continual concern of an ever growing number of people with regard to algae, induced the board, during a general assembly of the members of PBS Phycological Section, to put forward a motion to set up an organisation that would bring Polish phycologists together, yet independently of the PBS itself. By a majority the decision was taken to form the Polish Phycological Society, with a Statute and Board. The function of the PPS chairperson was entrusted to prof. L.Burchardt. A discussion of the Statute caused new organisational concepts to emerge, as well as encouraged the voicing of plans to integrate with international phycological societies in Europe and overseas. The PPS membership does not exclude the participation in the PBS. At the celebratory supper, the anthem of phycologists, “Let love abound” was sung for the first time, and with a tear in eye. The arrangement, authored by Waldek Surosz was fantastic. After a contest for the most original “Miss” among the young female phycologists, and a home-made liqueur contest, the entire conference received a graceful compliment in the words of prof. Jadwiga Siemińska, who defined it as “a new quality”

The 26th International Conference of the Polish Phycological Society was organised by the staff of the Chair of General Ecology at the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, led by dr hab. Krzysztof Czernaś. The conference took place 16th-20th May 2007 in Lublin-Nałęczów. The principal theme was „algae in the assessment of ecological condition of waters”. The phycological materials discussed by the 100 participants concerned peat bog, sea and inland ecosystems, as well as taxonomy and physiology of the bluegreen algae and eukaryotic algae found there. The overwhelming mood of amicability enabled the young adepts of phycology to become acquainted with the new developments and discuss their queries, while the older designed new research projects. The Polish and foreign phycologists had also the opportunity to partake in the session in memory of prof. Iwo Wojciechowski.

The leisure programme allowed the participants to see the most valuable architectural monuments of the region and to admire the beauty of landscapes of South-East Poland. This knowledge, further enhanced by the visit to the “Korzeniowy Dół” gorge made us all wish to return to see these parts as soon as possible.

The Department of Algology and Mycology of the University of Łódź, headed by prof. Brabara Rakowska, organised and hosted the 27th International Conference of the Polish Phycological Society (Łódź-Spała, 12th-15th June, 2008). The sessions responded to the theme “Renaturisation of water ecosystems and algae communities”. The discussion of the issue of renaturisation takes place not only in the world of science, but also outside it. At the same time, it is essential that the science come up with indications as well as devise means of application. The conference was dedicated to prof. Joanna Z. Kadłubowska, the creator of phycology at the University of Łódź. The conference featured a General Meeting of Society Delegates, who, among others, elected the Society Board for the next 3-year term. Prof. Lubomira Burchardt (Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań) was given the Chair, while prof. Marcin Pliński (University of Gdańsk) became the Deputy.

Altogether, 36 papers and reports were delivered, and 50 posters were presented. R. Majewska, A. Zgrundo and P. Lemke from the University of Gdańsk won the competition for the best young scientist poster. The work bore the title “The use of benthos diatoms in assessment of pollution in the Vistula river and its estuary”. Thanks to the ingenuity of the organisers, the spiritual support from the Łódź Photographic Society, and the material assistance from Precoptic Co. (sponsor of the prizes), the conference featured a photography contest “Algae: micro- and macroworld”. The selection was extremely difficult, since none of the images submitted could be denied beauty and attraction. The 1st prise went to F. Hindak (fig.1), 2nd – to I. Łaźniewska and the 3rd to E. Wilk-Woźniak.

The organisers did not neglect to provide the participants with opportunity for development other than scientific. In Łódź, we visited the marvellous Poznański’s Palace, know to everyone from “The Promised Land” by A. Wajda. The dinner took place in the “Manufacture” restaurant. The conference excursion took us to old German bunkers in Konewka, where we decided for the harder sightseeing route, along corridors no higher than 50-60 cm. Later, we visited Spała, a place of beauty and much charm, a perfect spot for rest or creative work. The banquet and the bonfire in the following evenings granted us the relaxation needed after the exhausting sessions.

This year (21st-24th May 2009, Szczecin – Cieszyno Drawskie) the 28th International Conference of the Polish Phycological Society was organised by dr Wojciech Kowalski from the Chair of Botany and Environmental Protection at the West Pomeranian University of Technology, and prof. dr hab. Andrzej Witkowski from the Department of Palaeooceanology of the University of Szczecin. This time, the sessions were concerned with “Biodiversity of algae in the ecosystems under legal protection”. The conference was dedicated to prof. Ryszard Bohr, the forerunner of the ecological thought in hydrobiology.

The event was attended by 96 persons, including 14 international guests. 32 papers and reports were delivered, along with 44 posters. The chief topics of presentations in phycological matters included biological and physical-chemical methods of toxin detection, secondary metabolites in bluegreen algae, and various aspects of research of the latter. The richly illustrated presentations covered communities of desmidia, diatoms and dinoflagellates in ecological and taxonomic approach. Further papers discussed phycological issues with wide thematic and geographic reference.

The organisers did not fail to offer us some field activity. Already on the first day we were given the opportunity to visit the castle ruins in Stare Drawsko and admire the views form the spot in Spyczna Góra. Entranced by the beauty of the landscape we became somewhat unruly during the subsequent excursion to the reserves “Valley of Five Lakes”, “Czarnówek” and “Morzysław Mały Peat Bog”, where we collected phycological samples with much enthusiasm, thus prolonging the excursion and giving the supper a miss at the same time.

The next year’s conference will be organised by the Cracow centre (prof. dr hab. Konrad Wołowski) in Cracow and Nidzica. The first news of the event have already been published online and can be viewed at: http://www.botany.pl/29ConPhyt/29conf.html .

As of 27th July 2007, all members of the Polish Phycological Society belong to the Federation of European Phycological Societies (FEPS). The Polish Phycological Society is one of the 7 such bodies in Europe which contributed to the establishment of the FEPS in Oviedo (Spain) in 2007.


  • Siemińska J., 1991, Podsumowanie działalności Sekcji Fykologicznej Polskiego Towarzystwa Botanicznego (1971 – 1991) Phycological Section of the Polish Botanic Society: A summary of activities. in : Mirek Z. (red.) Jubileuszowa X Ogólnopolska Konferencja Sekcji Fykologicznej Polskiego Towarzystwa Botanicznego. Polish Botanical Studies Guidebook Series; No. 4, Instytut Botaniki im. W. Szafera Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Kraków: 1 – 44 .

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