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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Systematic Mycology & Microbiology Laboratory

2011 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 Web site. 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. Online 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 online 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 FY11 seventy-nine specimen loans were sent nationally and internationally with an equal number of previously loaned specimens returned to the Collections. In addition, approximately 900 new specimens including a number of important reference specimens (types) were added to the Collections. About 40,000 new fungus-host reports were added to the worldwide database of fungi on plants around the world for a total of over 800,000 reports representing a comprehensive database of reports of fungi on plants. The nomenclature of an additional 4,000 scientific names of fungi on plants was verified allowing users to synthesize data reported for synonymous names of one species. The total number of scientific names verified now totals about 60,000. All data are available at Questions about fungi were answered from plant and forest pathologists, plant diagnosticians, mycologists, and plant quarantine officials. One major addition to the SMML Web site is the descriptions and illustrations of about 100 plant pathogenic fungi including those encountered at ports of entry. A list of fungi not in the United States was developed using the fungus-host databases. Over the past three years these fungi have been reviewed for their threat to U.S. agriculture. Descriptions and illustrations have been developed and are now available on the Web. These descriptions and associated information were contributed to the CABI Invasive Species Compendium. This past year a new server was acquired with an upgrade of most of the software elements. A major activity of the collections manager and nomenclature specialist concerned the testing the newly re-written data entry screens and converted fungal databases. An outside contractor was hired to assist with this in order to develop standardized, user-friendly data entry screens that can be accessed remotely. Data from the U.S. National Fungus Collections were provided to scientists studying the fruiting time of various mushrooms to determine if this had changed over the past fifty years. At the request of a user, about 600 specimens were digitized. This may be an activity that we will do routinely. We expect to include these photographs with the information about each specimen that is available over the Web.

4. Accomplishments
1. Plant pathogenic fungi of quarantine significance described and illustrated. The top 100 most important plant pathogenic fungi not in the U.S. were determined using the database of fungi on plants around the world. Each species is described and illustrated with additional information such as biology, economic impacts, prevention, and control. These descriptions and associated information were contributed to the CABI Invasive Species Compendium.

Review Publications
Seifert, K., Rossman, A.Y. 2010. How to describe a new fungal species. IMA Fungus. 1(2):109-116.

Last Modified: 08/23/2017
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