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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE U.S. NATIONAL FUNGUS COLLECTIONS AND DEVELOPMENT OF ON-LINE RESOURCES ABOUT FUNGI

Location: Systematic Mycology and Microbiology

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1. Curate specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections as an international reference resource for use by scientists throughout the world. Objective 2. Develop on-line resources about the systematics of fungi, especially plant pathogens of importance to scientists and plant quarantine officials.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Objective 1. At the U.S. National Fungus Collections standard procedures are followed as detailed in reference books. Newly acquired specimens are “fumigated” by freezing prior to accessioning. Information about each newly acquired specimen at the U.S. National Fungus Collections (BPI) is entered in the Specimen Database with its unique accession number and barcode sticker. The dried fungal specimens are placed in acid-free boxes or in packets made of archival paper and the label is attached. Specimens are housed in standard metal herbarium cabinets on moveable compactors in limited climate-controlled space. The loan policy and guidelines of the U.S. National Fungus Collections are posted on the SMML website. Student technicians assist with filing specimens, pulling and mailing loans, and upgrading specimens. Newly acquired specimens and returned loans are frozen to prevent pest infestation before being incorporated into the collection. The herbarium is monitored for pests and specimens are frozen as necessary. Requests to use material for DNA analysis are considered favorably as long as sufficient material exists to support such work without jeopardizing the integrity of the specimen. Excess DNA is to be returned to the U.S. National Fungus Collections where it is stored in a –80 C freezer.

Objective 2. On-line database resources about fungi developed at the SMML will continue to be updated and increased as new specimens are accessioned and new data are published. As funding permits, the nomenclature file will be updated. Additions to the on-line identification systems are made as additional taxa are studied and described by the associated scientists. As unique sequences, i.e. DNA barcodes, are developed for these species, there will be a link to these GenBank sequences. Descriptions and illustrations of invasive fungi will be placed on the Internet as they become available. New software will be evaluated especially Adobe Flex software to facilitate the ability to work efficiently with these databases. Computer programs and operating system software and hardware will be continually under review and incorporated as deemed necessary and useful.


3.Progress Report:
Progress was made in both objectives all of which fall under National Program 301, Component 1, Crop Genetic and Genomic Resources and Information Management. Activities on this service project focus on Problem 2B, Plant and Microbial Genetic Resource and Information management.

In regard to Objective 1, this past year eighty-one loans were sent nationally and internationally with an equal number returned. An emphasis was placed on obtaining the return of loans that were more than five years overdue. About 14,000 new specimens were accessioned that document research throughout the world. An increasing number of requests for specimens on loan include the desire to destructively sample specimens to obtain DNA. Personnel at the US National Fungus Collections have been revising policies and discussing these issues. We desire to support this research while protecting specimens for methods available in the coming centuries. These activities contribute to fulfillment of objective 1 of this service project as stated in the plan to curate specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections as an international reference resource for use by scientists throughout the world. A number of tours were given to in-house personnel as well as visiting scientists.

In regard to Objective 2 concerning the development of on-line resources about the systematics of fungi, especially plant pathogens of importance to scientists and plant quarantine officials, about 50,000 new fungus-host reports were added to the worldwide database of fungi on plants around the world for a total of over 900,000 reports. This represents the most comprehensive database of fungi on plants in existence. The 300,000 card file reporting fungi on plant hosts was scanned and an application developed that allows these reports to be edited and included in the fungus-host reports. The nomenclature of about 70,000 scientific names of fungi on plants has been updated allowing users to synthesize data reported for synonymous names of one species. As new literature is obtained with the fungus-host records entered, the nomenclature of those articles is reviewed and used to update the nomenclature records. Moving to one name for fungi has been the focus of the nomenclature this year with records updated as decisions are made concerning which fungal name to use. All data are available at: http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/.

Contractors working with SMML have implemented a new security system for remote access to data entry and revised code on the public web pages to remove potential security issues. The contractors continue to assist in addressing security issues and in purging code and databases of unused elements. SMML hosts databases for the Nematology Laboratory (NL) and Floral and Nursery Products Research Unit (FNPRU).


4.Accomplishments
1. Fungal past quietly gone except as specimens. Changes in fungi over time and space can never be known, only inferred from specimens preserved in historical collections. As specimens are destroyed so is their past. The fungal specimens of Pennsylvania State University were slated for annihilation until they were moved and now kept safe from destruction in the world’s largest resource of knowledge about fungi, the U.S. National Fungus Collections. Now the specimens can be tested, for example, for changes in heavy metal content or reveal how and when a plant disease was moved around the globe. Only by knowing what fungi are present in the U.S. using these data can quarantine policy makers keep bad fungi out. In addition the world’s scientists are already requesting specimens on loan to discover past activities of these wood-rotter and plant-destroying fungi.

2. What’s in two names? Confusion! Everyone and everything has a name—that’s how we know what we are talking about. For all living organisms scientific names are used for communication with a genus equivalent to a last name, at least in western society. Like a last name a genus refers to individuals that have a lot in common. Likewise for fungi accurate names are essential for identifying a killer organism and controlling the disease it causes or keeping a bioterrorist fungus out of the country. Confusion in names of fungi has recently been reduced by using only one name instead of two. Just one name for species in a group of disease-causing fungi was proposed and accepted. As a result plant pathologists, plant quarantine officials, and scientists will know what they are talking about when referring to these plant-killing fungi.


Review Publications
Rossman, A.Y., Seifert, K., Samuels, G.J. 2013. Genera in the Bionectriaceae, Hypocreaceae, and Nectriaceae (Hypocreales) proposed for acceptance or rejection. IMA Fungus. 4(1):41-51.

Zhang, N., Rossman, A.Y., Seifert, K., Bennett, J.W., Cai, G., Hillman, B., Luo, J., Meyer, W., Molnar, T., Tacych, M., White, J., Cai, L., Manamgoda, D., Schoch, C. 2013. Impacts of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants (Melbourne Code) on the scientific names of plant pathogenic fungi. American Phytopathological Society. DOI: 10.1094/APSnetFeatures–2013-0617.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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