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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory

2009 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
Specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections and the on-line resources about fungi on plants serve research scientists and plant quarantine experts throughout the world. In FY09 about 75 loans were sent nationally and internationally with an equal number returned, frozen for fumigation, and refiled. In addition, about 800 new specimens including type specimens were accessioned. About 30,000 new fungus-host reports were added to the worldwide database of fungi on plants around the world for a total of over 640,000 reports representing a comprehensive database of reports of fungi on plants. The nomenclature of about 4,000 scientific names of fungi on plants was verified allowing users to synthesize data reported for synonymous names of one species. All data are available at: Questions about fungi were answered from plant and forest pathologists, mycologists and plant quarantine officials. This past year the major activity of the scientist and collections manager concerned the rewriting of the data entry screens and conversion of the fungal databases in a new version using MySQL, Flex, and ColdFusion for Web applications. An outside contractor was hired to assist with this in order to develop standardized, user-friendly data entry screens that can accessed remotely. This basic work is continued by developing programs to make appropriate research data available on the Web.

4. Accomplishments
1. Systematics of plant pathogenic fungi. Systematics is the study of biological diversity; it is the science that discovers, describes, and classifies all organisms. Collections provide the foundation for systematic knowledge. Scientific names are used to communicate about them; such names reflect what is known about their biology, host range, and geographic distribution. Recent trends in systematics of fungi include the knowledge that: 1) true Fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants; and 2) the Oomycetes are not true Fungi, rather they are most closely related to the yellow-brown algae, and are known as straminipiles. Initiatives such as DNA barcoding of fungi for rapid identification of species and the Encyclopedia of Life synthesizing what is known about a species will help plant pathologists identify fungal pathogens to control the diseases they cause and prevent their entry into the United States.

Review Publications
Minnis, D., Rossman, A.Y., Yun, H. 2008. Proposal to conserve the name Olivea tectonae (T.S. Ramakr. & K. Ramakr.) R.L. Mulder against Olivea tectonae (Racib.) Thirum (Basidiomycota). Taxon. 57:1355-1356.

Rossman, A.Y. 2008. Systematics of plant pathogenic fungi – why it matters. Plant Disease. 92:1376-1386.

Braun, U., Farr, D.F., Minnis, A.M. 2009. Nomenclatural notes on some cercosporoid hyphomycetes. Schlechtendalia. 19:81-84.

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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