Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
I am truly sorry for not providing more posts this past month, however I am in a feverish state of preparation. It is the time to begin searching for career opportunities within my field of training, be it in the private sector, academia, or the federal government. The time needed to properly prepare documents for submission to a federal position is numbing and quite tedious. So I have been spending most of my "free" time gathering all of my previous work history, relevant experiences, transcripts, CV, and resume data. Once collected, those items must be finely honed into a pitch for a multitude of career positions for which I am qualified. I may have only previously posted on this blog items of interest related to mycology and mushrooms specifically, however I have interests including project management, construction, food service, biology (field and laboratory), photography, music, and microbiology. If anyone reading this post thinks they may be able to help me in this job search, PLEASE leave a comment or e-mail me. I will appreciate any leads or aide during this very important search.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
There is a new mushroom club in town! This brainchild of many amateur mycologists in central PA has begun to take shape. The second meeting of the club's organizing committee was held on February 21st and discussion engaged all members for several hours. The committee includes enthusiasts of the collection, description, and consumption of mushrooms. Some of the members have been doing so for decades and their applied knowledge combined with that of members holding or pursuing doctoral degrees in mycology makes this a well rounded group of individuals. I am a member of this executive committee and am extremely excited to be part of such an interesting bunch of mycophiles (=mushroom lovers). We are in the process of establishing a working constitution, assigning members to club activities, and designing a web presence for the club. I will keep all of you up to date on this new mushroom club and provide links to the official website once it is established. Stay tuned :)
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Many weeks have been spent in the lab amplifying the DNA extracted from fungal specimens and sending off the PCR products for sequencing. I switched to a new PCR kit, Taq-Pro Red Core Kit, manufactured by Denville Scientific, Inc. The results have been promising, with amplifications of the ITS region using primer set ITS5 and ITS4 reaching an average of nearly 70 percent. This is quite an increase from the average amplification of 30-60 percent for the same ITS region using stock solutions and the same primer set. The sequence results of 60 specimens from the Hartley Wood collection have been edited using Sequencher v4.8 and a BLAST search performed. One interesting sequence helped clarify a pure white Amanita species originally identified by me as Amanita sp. cf. virosa. The sequence data indicated that this specimen was A. bisporigera, with a 99 percent maximum identity match. The image to the right was taken of A. bisporigera in the field and the image below is a micrograph of the 10x10 micrometer spores. The sequence result brought up the question of how often this deadly poisonous mushroom is misidentified in the field. It would be interesting to sample across the numerous vouchers collected from area forays and determine how often this mistake has occurred.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
During a collection event in June 2009, I came across a very interesting resupinate fungus. The fruiting body was spreading across the barkless surface of a large downed tree. I had seen many resupinate fruiting structures during my two years of research, however the gray center and white colored margin of this fungus caught my eyes from nearly ten meters away. Upon closer examination, this fungus appeared to be in a state of active growth. Later, this observation would be confirmed with images and descriptions of the lifecycle of this fungus provided through multiple resources. You might be asking yourself what fungus I have been mentioning. Kretzschmaria sp. cf. deusta (Hoffm.) P.M.D. Martin is the proposed name for this collected specimen. This species of fungus is common, but is often overlooked once the dark black stroma gives it's substrate a burnt appearance. The fungus causes rot of trees and is often located at the base of infected trees. Infected trees become quite brittle and should be monitored as they are prone to structural failure with little to no warning. The upper right image was taken during the immature or actively growing state of this fungus. The second image allows one to see the mature fruiting structure with the embedded perithecia creating a pimpling of the stroma surface. A stereoscopic image of the stroma in cross section showcases the perithecia and the asci found within them. A wet mount was prepared from tissues extracted from the opened perithecia and spores exhibiting classic Xylariaceae characteristics were observed. The final image clearly shows the narrow, dark-brown to black spores. The spore size was 32x8 micrometers with a smooth texture and central germ split. DNA from the collected specimen will be extracted and amplified using PCR. The PCR product will then be sequenced and this ITS sequence will be entered into a BLAST search to aid in its identification. Keep an eye open for this very interesting fungus during your next hike through the forest. Click on the title of this post to view other images of this fungus!
Friday, January 15, 2010
The new year brought fresh snow and chilly temperatures to central Pennsylvania. This combination was perfect for one of our family's favorite winter activities; sled riding. In previous years our daughter was too young to enjoy this activity, but now that she is 2.5 years old, she has shown an interest. Her first real sled riding experience took place in Youngstown, Ohio during our visit to my in-laws. We bundled my daughter Kaia in layers of clothing and placed her on a plastic saucer sled at the top of a small hill. This was the same hill that my wife used to sled ride down when she was a youngster. It brought back great memories when my wife saw her daughter sliding down that hill. Kaia seemed to really enjoy the ride as she would yell, "whoa" or "whee" the entire duration of the trip from the top of the hill to the base. Once our family had returned to Pennsylvania, Kaia asked to go sled riding. We borrowed a sled from our neighbor and headed to a local park. By this time, the sun had melted the snow covering the top of a small hill located within the park down the street from our home. This in no way deterred us from having a great time watching Kaia enjoy herself. After an hour of toting her to the top of the small hill, pushing her down the slope, and pulling her on the sled as I ran around in the powdery snow, it was time to go home. We warmed up with some warm beverages and found that it was quite easy for all of us to sleep that evening.
**We hope that you will share this winter season with your loved ones.**
**We hope that you will share this winter season with your loved ones.**
Friday, January 8, 2010
Hey folks. Great to be back in the lab running PCR on my fungal samples and sending them off for sequencing. I have picked a few interesting specimens from the collection to sequence at first, then will move on to the more common species and genera. A few of the selected specimens may yet to be described in Pennsylvania and the thought of documenting novel species is exciting. There is a species within the order Xylariales that is most common in Europe and has rarely been documented in the United States. Teasing out the data for the past 2 years of collection from my research site will surely be interesting and I am optimistic that the DNA sequences will greatly aid in their identification. For now I am concentrating on perfecting my techniques in the lab and ability to edit ITS sequence data for submission to GenBank. Due to the heavy workload this fall, I will most likely be posting results on a weekly basis. Still, please stop back and provide comments and suggestions. Have a great year and hope you enjoy the new blog template...it will most likely change as the months progress.