north american mycoflora project


Barcoding locus — A locus is a single gene or region in an organism's DNA. A barcoding locus is a particular region that is sequenced in every organism and the differences found between them are used to sort out and identify species. CBOL or the Consortium for the Bar Coding of Life has helped organize and promote this approach. The barcode metaphor comes from the idea that by scanning a particular short DNA region one could identify any species. For fungi the barcoding locus is the ITS region.

Internal transcribed spacer region or ITS is a locus or region in the DNA that is found between the genes for Small Subunit ribosomal RNA (SrRNA) and the Large Subunit Ribosomal RNA (LrRNA). It contains two non-coding spacer regions plus a 5.8S rRNA gene. The conserved ribosomal genes allow one to design "primers" to the region while the spacer regions tend to change relatively rapidly over evolutionary time because they are not tightly constrained by function. As a result different species often have different sequences in the ITS regions.

Macrofungi — as used here the term applies to fungi that produce macroscopic fruiting bodies. They would include some Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, and even a few Zygomycota (e.g. Endogone). With the Basidiomycota we are including gill mushrooms, boletes, polypores, sterioid fungi, tooth fungi, puffballs, false-truffles, jelly fungi, and resupinate or crust fungi. Among the Ascomycota the cup fungi, truffles, and dead man's fingers and related taxa.

Metadata — the additional information that is associated with the collection but is not physically part. For example the date, location, habitat, notes on appearance, smell, taste are all part of the metadata.

Monograph — Simply a scholarly work on a single subject. In the context of taxonomy a monograph would focus on single taxon such as a genus, a family, or an order. A monograph would typically include detailed descriptions of all the relevant species, deal with issues of nomenclature (i.e., the correct names), give information on habitats and geographic distributions, provide keys to identification, and cite all the important literature.

Multilocus — If more than one independent gene or region is sequenced from each organism it is called a "multilocus" approach. The advantages of this approach is that it is much more sensitive to species differences. Any single locus, including the ITS, may not differ between species or may provide erroneous data for other reasons. The disadvantage of a multilocus approach is that it is more time consuming and expensive, and in ecological settings, where a single organism can not be isolated from all the others, the connection of multiple loci to particular individuals is lost.

Mycoflora — is the mycological equivalent of flora for vascular plants. It is basically a comprehensive guide to the macrofungi of an area. Other terms that are used for the same thing include Mycota, Funga and Mycobiota. We prefer the slightly old fashioned term mycoflora specifically because modern floras provide a useful standard for what we might expect a mycoflora to do.

Mycelium — the body macrofungi is made up of microscopic filaments called hyphae. Collectively all the hyphae of an individual fungus make up its mycelium. Even when the mushroom or fruiting body is not present the mycelium is.

Vouchered herbarium specimens — in the context of a mycoflora are dried fruiting bodies from the collections that form the basis of the descriptions and the data associated with the species. They are permanently stored in a herbarium, where any researcher can access and study them.

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This is a joint project of the MSA and NAMA.