5 Million Fungi – Every living thing is crawling with microorganisms — and you need them to survive by Dan Fost.
Fungus is growing in Brian Perry’s refrigerator — and not the kind blooming in someone’s forgotten lunch bag.
No, the Cal State East Bay assistant professor has intentionally packed his shelves with 1,500 Petri dishes, each containing a tiny sample of fungus from native and endemic Hawaiian plant leaves. The 45-year-old mycologist (a person who studies the genetic and biochemical properties of fungi, among many other things) figures hundreds of those containers hold heretofore-unknown species.
The professor’s work identifying and cataloguing fungal endophytes — microscopic fungi that live inside plants — carries several important implications. Scientists know little about the workings of these fungi, making them a particularly exciting frontier for examination: Learning about endophytes’ relationships to their host plants could save many endangered species; farmers have begun tapping into their power to help crops build resistance to pathogens; and researchers are interested in using them to unlock new compounds to make crucial medicines for people.
The only problem — finding, naming, and preserving them before it’s too late.
… (emphasis in original)
According to Naveed Davoodian in A Long Way to Go: Protecting and Conserving Endangered Fungi, you don’t need to travel to exotic locales to contribute to our knowledge of fungi in the United States.
I hope you’ll do your part as a NAMA member by renewing your commitment to mycology—the science, that is. When we convene at the North American foray later this year, our leadership will present (and later publish in this journal) clear guidelines so mycologists everywhere can collect reliable data about fungi as part of the North American Mycoflora Project. We will let you know where to start and how to carry your momentum. All we ask is that you join us. Catalogue them all! Or at least set an ambitious goal for yourself or your local NAMA-affiliated club.
I did peek at the North American Mycoflora Project, which has this challenging slogan:
“Without a sequenced specimen, it’s a rumor”
Sounds like your kind of folks. 😉
Mycology as a hobby has three distinct positives: One, you are not in front your computer monitor. Two, you are gaining knowledge. Three, (hopefully) you will decide to defend fellow residents who cannot defend themselves.