Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maitake Workshop Spring 2009

I had the fortune to receive a few bags of maitake plugs from a friend this past spring.  The plugs are small segments of wooden dowels that have been colonized by the fungus Grifola frondosa.  This fungus is edible and a favorite of many students, faculty, and staff within our plant pathology department.  When word got out that I had some plugs, many individuals showed an interest in learning how to cultivate this fungus using oak logs as a substrate.  I immediately acquired freshly cut oak logs for use in a maitake inoculation workshop that I developed and instructed.  A small group of staff, faculty and students attended this 2 hour workshop and were given a inoculated log to take home with them.  I buried 2 large inoculated logs in a nearby woodlot and will monitor those locations for any fruiting body development.  The images to the right were taken by one of the workshop participants, Grace O'Keefe.  For a quick preview of the workshop  click on the title of this post.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Processing Fungal Specimens

After a long day of collecting fungi within my research site, I return to the lab and begin processing the collection.  Characteristics of the fungal specimens are described using basic tools, such as a stereoscope, microscope, and digital camera.  A description of ephemeral traits are recorded and images are taken of macroscopic and microscopic structures.  Spore prints are also prepared for many specimens within the collection and aide in their identification.  It takes roughly 2-4 days in the lab to process specimens collected during a single visit to my research site.  All data concerning the collection is entered into an electronic database and will be accessible in the future through a website.  The  first image has captured me entering data into a lab journal.  This information will then be compiled and entered into the electronic database.  The second image shows details of the pileus and gill tissue for an Inocybe sp.  Once the fungal specimens have been dried, tissue is removed for further DNA analysis, and a voucher is prepared.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Session

My daughter and I had the best time this past Sunday while carving a large pumpkin on our kitchen floor.  She is nearly 2.5 years old and this was her first real experience with the carving process.  The previous Halloween she did have the chance to paint a pumpkin, but was not part of the carving process due to her age.  This year she was very interested in helping papa and mama create a jack-o-lantern and we agreed that it was time to show her how it was done.  After the "gutting" of the pumpkin, Kaia tried her hand at pulling all of the goo from within the pumpkin.  As one can see in the adjacent images, we had a great time and we were both happy to have caught the event with the digital camera, as mama was recovering from a cold and could not participate :(  

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium (CUP)

My visit to the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium (CUP) in June of 2009 was funded with a travel grant award distributed by the Penn State plant pathology department. The CUP facility had just celebrated its first year in its current location during this visit. The location was previously used for poultry research and was renovated to accommodate this herbarium. CUP has been described as the fourth or fifth largest mycological herbarium in North America. It houses approximately 400, 000 fungi and plant disease specimens, including over 7,000 types specimens and 60,000 historical photographs. CUP Curator, Robert Dirig, gave me an extensive tour of the facility. The knowledge gained during this brief visit will certainly be reflected in the proper preservation of specimens and vouchers collected during my research project in the Hartley Wood. The image to the right shows Robert inspecting the stability of a voucher packet from a collection.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mycology Class Fall Foray

Two dedicated students from the PPATH 425 course of introductory mycology at Penn State met Aaron D. Brown for a guided foray. During the two hour walk through the Hartley Wood, adjacent to Sunset Park, many species of Basidiomycota were collected. Identification to genera and species was performed in the lab with the aide of multiple field guides. The "inky cap" mushroom can be seen here, prior to drying down for long-term storage.

Grape Picking at Happy Valley Vineyard

Graduate students from the Penn State plant pathology department volunteered there time to harvest grapes at the vineyard. The weather was delightful during this particular day of picking and the conversation among the students was quite entertaining. I am eagerly anticipating the final product from this years crop!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whipple Damn Fall Foray 2009

Wonderful walk through Whipple Damn Park collecting array of fruiting fungal bodies. Some very informative instruction from local mushroom expert Bill Russell and Dr. Barrie Overton from Lock Haven University. It is my intention to create a comprehensive database of Pennsylvania fungi using species lists compiled during this foray and other forays throughout PA.

Genera of Fungi within Sampling Plots

There are twenty-five circular sampling plots uniformly distributed throughout the Hartley Wood. Image to the right indicates number of identified genera within each of the plots. The larger the circle shown, the more genera identified within the plot. The preliminary evaluation of raw data from this year's field season has yet to elude to any observable patterns or trends within the plots.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Collection of Forest Fungi

A fruiting body survey of fungi observed within an old-growth remnant forest will be used to generate a list of genera and species for the site. The image to the right shows Aaron D. Brown collecting fungal specimens from permanent sampling plot A02 during the fall 2009 season. Specimens are photographed, field characteristics recorded, and then placed into collection bags for short transport to lab. Final macro/micro photography of characteristics and identification of specimen completed in the laboratory.