He originally studied law at Poitiers, but his interest later turned to botany. As a young man he assisted botanist Auguste de Saint-Hilaire (1779–1853) with studies of Brazilian flora. From 1842 until 1872 he worked as a naturalist at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle in Paris. In 1854 he succeeded Adrien de Jussieu (1797-1853) as a member of the Académie des sciences. He died in Hyères on 22 December 1885, age 70.
Tulasne's specialized study was the science of mycology. His microscopic investigation of fungi, particularly parasitic species, contributed much to the understanding on the complexities of their nature and development. He is credited with introducing the concept of "pleomorphy" in regard to fungi. Pleomorphy states that an individual fungus, growing in different substrates can have dramatically different forms. In 1853 he introduced his views on the reproduction cycle of Claviceps purpurea (ergot).
A number of mycological species, as well as the genera Tulasneinia and Tulasnella (family Tulasnellaceae) are named after him. He is credited with providing classification taxa for the following genera: Crucibulum, Glomus, Sebacina, Terfezia, Tilletia and Hypomyces (the latter genus with Elias Magnus Fries).
He also produced some important works on flowering plants. For example, in 1855, he published two papers on the magnoliid family Monimiaceae, in which he included what are now the Lauralean families Siparunaceae and Atherospermataceae.
Tulasne published over 50 scientific articles during his career. Some of his best work was done in collaboration with his brother, Charles Tulasne (1816–1884), such as "Fungi hypogaei" (1851) and the three-volume "Selecta fungorum carpologia" (1861–65). The latter work is known for its superb detailed illustrations, being created by Charles Tulasne.
Many of his works were published under the Latinized name "Ludovicus-Renatus".
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Louis-René Tulasne". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Biography and Photo; Louis René Tulasne Mushroom the Journal
- Quarterly journal of microscopical science, Volume 5 by Daniel and Eleanor Albert Collection
- Lisa DeCesare. 2006. "Tulasne Brothers Exhibit" Newsletter of the friends of the Farlow 47(spring 2006):6-7. Harvard University Herbarium. (See External Links below).
- Louis-René Tulasne. 1855. "Diagnoses nonnullas e Monimiacearum recensione tentata excerptas præmittit". Annales des Sciences Naturelles; Botanique, series 4, 3:29-144. (See External links below).
- Louis-René Tulasne (Ludovicus-Renatus Tulasne). 1855. "Monographia Monimiacearum, primum tentata". Archives du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris) 8:273-436.(See External links below).
- IPNI. Tul.
- Newsletter of the friends of the Farlow, Number 47 At Newsletters At Friends of the Farlow At The Farlow Herbarium (FH) At Herbaria At Collections At Harvard University Herbaria
- page 383, Table des articles At View Book (external) At Annales des sciences naturelles ... Quatrième série. Botanique. Tome III At Titles At Biodiversity Heritage Library
- page 273 At View Book At Archives du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. Tome 8 At Titles At Biodiversity Heritage Library
- IPNI List of plants described and co-described by Tulasne.