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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Curation of the U.S. National Fungus Collections and Associated Information Resources

Location: Systematic Mycology and Microbiology

Project Number: 8042-22000-285-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 20, 2013
End Date: Feb 19, 2018

Objective:
1. Curate and expand the U.S. National Fungus Collections to support agricultural research. 2. Expand and enhance Web-based information resources for systematic mycology, emphasizing plant-associated fungi, including taxonomic identification tools and information for fungi and their plant hosts.

Approach:
Specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections are housed in metal herbarium cabinets on moveable compactors in a relatively constant climate-controlled space. All specimens are frozen at -20 C for three to five days before filing or after being returned from a loan or use by scientists on location to prevent the introduction of insects. About 2,000-5,000 specimens are accessioned each year. Many of these are type specimens documenting previously undescribed fungi; voucher specimens that document research, especially on plant pathogenic fungi, are also accepted. Specimens are accessioned using standard procedures including archival quality supplies, and specimen information is databased as part of the accessioning process. Specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections are available on loan for examination by qualified scientists. The loan policy of the U.S. National Fungus Collections is posted on the SMML website. About 80-100 loans for a total of about 2,000 specimens are sent each year. The loan database is used to track overdue loans and generate overdue notices that are sent twice a year. Requests to use material for DNA analysis are considered as long as sufficient material exists to support such work without jeopardizing the integrity of the specimen. Excess DNA must be returned to the U.S. National Fungus Collections where it is stored in a –80 C freezer. On-line database resources about fungi developed at the Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory (SMML) will continue to be updated with newly published literature and as new specimens are accessioned into the U.S. National Fungus Collections. The nomenclature file will be updated as expertise becomes available. This file provides the accurate scientific name for each plant-associated fungal species as well as all synonyms plus a synopsis of the host range, plant part affected, and geographic distribution. The accepted scientific name and the synonyms are linked so that one search on a fungal name returns the worldwide distribution, host range, literature, and specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections. Descriptions and illustrations of invasive fungi will be placed on the Internet. Herbarium specimens will be digitized as funds become available. Data entry applications and online database queries are updated as needed along with security measures that protect the server while allowing SMML employees and collaborators to enter data remotely. The SMML currently maintains a Dell PowerEdge 710 server. This hardware was purchased in 2010 and, with the continuing improvement in computer performance, it is anticipated that a new server will be purchased during the five years of this project, or that a transition to cloud computing will be made under Departmental guidance.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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