Forest fungi are critically important for forest health and productivity. Of the estimated 1.5 million species of fungi worldwide, only about 5% have been described and named. Key characteristics used to identify species and the relationships among species are in a critical period of change. Changes in the forest environment with respect to land use, access, and climate have the potential to change the distribution and biodiversity of forest fungi. At the same time, there is increased interest in forest fungi and their activities as sources of pharmaceuticals, bioenergy, and biotechnology. Using forest fungi to meet these needs requires development of stable systems of biosystematics and identification.
The Center for Forest Mycology Research (CFMR) is part of NRS-10 and is located at the Forest Products Laboratory at Madison, Wisconsin. The climate-controlled mycological herbarium houses more than 70,000 preserved specimens, collected since the mid-1800s. The culture collection contains more than 12,000 living isolates of 1,500 species. Details for the entire culture collection and about 25,000 herbarium specimens have been entered into an electronic database to aid information search and retrieval. CFMR scientists and researchers from around the world use the CFMR collections to test hypotheses of distribution, relatedness, and biological activity of forest fungi.
The herbarium and culture collection assist U.S. and international scientists to:
- Better define species limits and relationships among beneficial and pathogenic forest fungi
- Provide a databank for the identification of unknown fungi
- Provide living cultures for biotechnology and pharmaceutical research
- Provide a record of changes in fungal distribution that may be due to climate change, invasive species, and changes in forest health.
The Center for Forest Mycology Research Herbarium and Culture collection were recently (2007) put online in a searchable format. As of 2007, there were 33,592 entries in the database. In 2008, an additional 2,888 entries were added, which were a combination of new specimens and cultures, as well as additions of historical collections that had not been previously entered electronically. There are an additional 2,660 entries that will be added in early 2009. The recent additions include many mycorrhizal fungi, which were previously under-represented in the collection, which is made up primarily of wood-decay fungi. Researchers from around the world access these collections, with approximately 500 cultures and specimens being sent out in 2008. In November of 2008, the Team Leader for the Culture Collection and Herbarium, Daniel Lindner, was invited to Malaysia to talk about the CFMR's culture collection and methods of preservation for tropical fungi. The long-term goal from this meeting is to develop a centralized Malaysian culture collection for researchers and mushroom growers in southeast Asia. Recent publications using these collections include:
Lindner, D.L.; Banik, M.T. 2008. Molecular phylogeny of Laetiporus and other brown rot polypore genera in North America. Mycologia 100:417-430.
- Daniel L. Lindner, US Forest Service - Northern Research Station, Research Plant Pathologist
- Beatriz Ortiz-Santana, US Forest Service - Northern Research Station, Research Botanist
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