08 de agosto de 2021

Down the PCR Rabbit Hole

Last December I sent off some specimens to get sequenced by the Fungal Diversity Survey (FunDiS). I carefully followed their protocols and got back some excellent reports through BOLD systems. When I got the reports back in April of 2021, it started an avalanche of new opportunities and really opened up my world to what it could really mean to be a Citizen Scientist.

Through those 7 sequences, I have been swept up in a flurry of chain emails from mycologists, herbariums and opportunities to learn more than I ever thought I could. FunDis gave our group WVMS Funga a grant to sequence some fungi which we are diligently collecting and cataloging to send off to them. In addition I got the opportunity to send off my Ascomycete collection to get sequenced and be a part of the Pezizales study at the University of Florida Herbarium, through Dr. Matt Smith. I was beyond excited when I was awarded those opportunities to contribute to the study of mushrooms. But I wanted more.

I began looking into doing DNA amplification at home, in my own studio. I followed Sigrid Jakob's videos and watched everything I could that Alan Rockefeller made and then started sourcing equipment. I am happy to say that I now have a thermal cycler and centrifuge in my studio and have started up a conversation on a Facebook forum to gather my remaining supplies. After some suggested reading and lots of encouragement I feel more and more capable every day. I am still very new at this, but will try and learn everything I can from the mentors that are willing to teach.

Being a part of this community of scientists working so hard to build a database of knowledge gives me a purpose and I am so happy to contribute to something bigger. My dedication to mycology is only getting stronger as time passes.

Ingresado el 08 de agosto de 2021 por autumna autumna | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de abril de 2020

Forays in the Age of COVID-19

I have been weary of making a journal entry lately because I needed to process so much in this new age we are living in. My partner started an immunosuppressive therapy on February 27th, and so we have been on high alert in our house. I have not left the house except for essentials, and no guests are allowed over for a while. There has been one exception, and that has been going on social distancing forays with our mushroom study group. We carefully plan a location and meet up to look for fungi and still getting so excited when we find something new.

Our group has been going out every two weeks since December. We have all invested in fungi tomes, shared resources, learned new vocabulary, developed an iNaturalist project, and bought microscopes to further help identify fungi. It has only been a few months, but we have been watching the season change from late fall, through winter, and now into spring. We have dubbed Calvulina rugosa "our friend" since this was the most widespread fungi we have seen every time we have gone out. It was just this past week where I did not find any evidence of it, and instead am now seeing the large Ascomycete's, like the Gyromitra and Helvella.

As we continue through this social distancing, I have found myself in the woods more often than I was before. I just took a trip to the foothills of the Cascades, to a disturbed logged area, some of which had been burned. I was on the hunt for Morels, to really understand the seasonality of mushrooms, I have been trying to get out every week, and I had a specific place in mind to look for Morels. Instead of Morels I found prolific amounts of Gyromitra esculenta. They were fruiting in the disturbed areas from logged hillsides, to disturbed forest ground to the sides of well marked trails. I did not find them in any undisturbed areas.

The significance of finding these Gyromitra, was a few days before I had just completed and given a presentation on the Discinaceae family of fungi. Within the presentation I focused on the Gyromitra genus, and had read everything from Micheal Beug's Ascomycete Fungi of North America to the chemical properties of Gyromitrin and the metabolized monomethylhydrazine.

The group of us that study mushrooms all have a passion for this and are trying so hard to become better at identifying mushrooms and habitats. Our forays, discussions, and research is bringing us closer to our goals and that is why it is so important for us to continue to get out, even during this time of social distancing. We have learned to connect via video group chat, and tried to do as much bookwork and research as possible. But when it comes to really learning these things, nothing substitutes for getting a hands on experince. We are all in this for the journey and are having so much fun discovering new things.

Ingresado el 20 de abril de 2020 por autumna autumna | 5 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

17 de febrero de 2020

In my front yard

I took advantage of the partially sunny (ok dryish) day to take a walk around my yard. I wanted to see if there were any new specimens fruiting. I was surprise to see so many changes from just a month ago. My daffodils are in full bloom, the maple trees are budding, and my comfrey is sprouting.

As I walked along the hardwood pile of logs, I noticed a new fruiting of the polypores and ran inside to grab my camera. On one log I found 3 different species growing and just up the hill two more. I am curious about the succession of the species that will inhabit these logs.

I found Trametes versicolor, Stereum hirsutum, a Daedalea, Schyzophyllum commune, and the beautiful violet colored Tricaptum abietinus.

In my backyard, in a particularly wet and shady spot I found a Coprinus-like specimen, but it was growing out of a wood stump. The spore print was black and prolific. As I sit here typing this that specimen has completely turned black and the gills have almost disintegrated.

The theme today, seems to be the velvet or hairy type mushrooms. I was excited to discover some new things and am proud of myself for being able to tell the difference between the shelf-like zoned specimens. At first glance they all look so similar, but when you stop and really look, you can see all of the subtle differences.

Ingresado el 17 de febrero de 2020 por autumna autumna | 5 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

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