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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #443992

Research Project: Expansion and Improvement of Plant-Associated Fungal Resources and Associated Descriptive Data in the U.S. National Fungus Collections and Databases

Location: Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-327-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jan 18, 2023
End Date: Jan 17, 2028

Objective 1: Curate and expand the U. S. National Fungus Collections by incorporating additional specimens and digital image resources, especially for type specimens, to support agricultural research (NP301, C2, PS2B) [Non-Hypothesis Driven] Subobjective 1.1: Incorporate into the USNFC Collections newly acquired specimens from researchers around the world and reduce the backlog of accessioning specimens acquired from other institutions or collectors in the past. Subobjective 1.2: Loan specimens to researchers around the world or provide "e-loans" in the form of digital images when possible. Objective 2: Expand information resources for systematic mycology, emphasizing nomenclature, host associations and geographic distributions for plant-associated fungi (NP301, C2, PS2B) [Non-Hypothesis Driven] Subobjective 2.1: Update literature and fungus-host databases with current literature documenting new and existing fungus-host-geographic location relationships. Subobjective 2.2: Update nomenclature database with currently accepted, nomenclaturally valid names of plant-associated fungi, focusing on those with demonstrated pathogenicity. Subobjective 2.3: Update existing documentation of specimens with images of specimen labels, annotations, and macro- and/or microscopic images, especially of type specimens, when they are transferred for loans or returned from loans to other researchers.

Approximately one-million dried fungal specimens are contained in the U.S. National Fungus Collections. Specimens are housed in metal herbarium cabinets on moveable compactors in a relatively climate-controlled space. Several thousand specimens are accessioned each year. Many of these are type specimens documenting previously undescribed fungi. Non-type 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 management unit’s official ARS website. Typically 30 to 50 loans are sent each year and tracked through a loan database. All specimens are frozen at -20 C for three to five days before initial filing, after being returned from a loan, or after use by scientists on location to prevent the introduction of insect pests. Requests to use material for DNA analysis are considered if 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 or be made available to other researchers upon request. Database resources about plant-associated fungi will continue to be updated with newly published literature. The nomenclature database will be updated when such expertise is available. This database provides the accurate scientific name for plant-associated fungal species as well as all synonyms and a synopsis of the host range, plant part affected, and geographic distribution. The accepted scientific name and the synonyms will be 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. Herbarium specimens will be digitized as funds become available for discrete taxonomic groups and as specimens are accessioned or returned from loan. Data entry applications, online database queries, and website code are updated as needed and in accordance with ARS security requirements. The public website and internal data entry applications are currently maintained on a Dell PowerEdge 710 server and are actively being modernized. Transition to cloud computing is expected to be completed during the lifespan of this project. It is anticipated that a new server will be purchased during or that a transition to cloud computing will be made under Departmental guidance during the lifespan of this project.