Thursday, February 25, 2010

Central Pennsylvania Mushroom Club

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

Amanita Species Clarified Using ITS Region

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.