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InvisibleRebelSteve33
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Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please!
    #1635076 - 06/15/03 02:54 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Hello my fellow fungi friends! :smile:

This summer I will be spending over a month living out in the woods at my mom's house.  While I'm out there, I want to do something more than just find and identify as many species of mushrooms as I can.  I'd really like to make a contribution to science by doing some sort of serious mycological research.

If anyone here could make suggestions on what sort of things I should do, I would greatly appreciate it!  One thing, though, is that I won't have access to any microscopes or other lab equipment, so the research I do will have to be somewhat simple.  I do plan on saving spore prints and gill fragments for all the species I do find for later examination, though. 

Speaking of saving gill fragments, I was hoping someone could tell me how to go about doing this properly.  I know the basidia and whatnot on the gills can be really useful in identifying some species microscopically.  But is it even possible to save gill fragments for any length of time for this purpose?  Or do the basidia and whatnot become unidentifyable when they dry out?

Thank you in advance for any replies!  I'm really looking forward to doing research with mushrooms, but I need some ideas to get started! :laugh:

Peace,

RebelSteve 


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Namaste.


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InvisibleEffedS
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: RebelSteve33]
    #1635171 - 06/15/03 03:56 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Well its funny cause Ive been thinking a bit about going in a similar direction.
Im thinking maybe get tree and plant field guides as well. Its good to be able to identify trees in the mycological field as well. Also im going to experiment with taking prints and making spore washes of them, and then innoculating spots in my yard with as many species as I can. :smile:

Ill see what else I can come up with.


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InvisibleRebelSteve33
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: Effed]
    #1635187 - 06/15/03 04:07 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Neat, man!  Luckily my mom has a lot of ID guides for trees and wildflowers and such, so I'm definitely going to make use of those while I'm out in the woods, too.

So far I have a couple research ideas of my own, but I'd really like to get as many ideas from other people as I can.  The ideas I have are:

1.  Make a large, topographical map of my mother's property, and mark down  every location where I find certain species of mushrooms, thus showing any interesting patterns of growth.

2.  Study the sporocarp longevity of different species (i.e., how long the fruiting body of the mushroom actually lasts).  And,

3.  Study mycophagy by insects and/or other species of animals.  I don't really know how I'd go about doing this, though.

I'm extremely interested in the ecology of mushrooms in the forest ecosystem, but I can't really think of any simple studies on this I would be able to do besides the mycophagy one.  Being a biology major, I might be able to use whatever research I do to get some credits for school, as well.

Start throwin' out any ideas you might have, people!  Please! :smile:


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OfflineToxicManM
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: RebelSteve33]
    #1635944 - 06/15/03 11:14 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

First off, if what you do is going to be serious research (the sort of thing that could potentially be published), then you need to dry and preserve the entire mushroom, not just a few fragments. You also need to make sure you follow good collection techniques, so that you don't end up with mixed collections and you get everything you need for accurate identification. The point of doing this is that later a researcher (or reviewer) can go through your specimens and verify what they are using microscopes, chemical reagents, DNA testing, or whatever suits them.

When you make a collection, be certain (as much as you can) that all the mushrooms in that collection are the same organism. If you see a cluster of mushrooms here and another cluster that look like the same kind 20 feet away, you should treat them as two collections. If there's a patch that extends for 20 feet then you can make one collection. Try to get specimens of the full range of ages for your collection. Make sure you get the full mushroom, including any rooting stem or anything like that. Before they start to dry, write up your description of the species. Be especially careful to include descriptions of any features that may change or disppear as the mushrooms dry. A good example of this would be a detailed description of the partial veil. Write a complete description of the collection, even if you can't identify the species. Your description should cover every mushroom in that collection. The format used in any good mushroom book or on many websites (for example, here, though they include a lot of microscopy) is fine, as long as you get all the important details. Then dry the collection and store it so that it won't be eaten by bugs or something. Keep a copy of your collection description with the collection.

One area that any of us can be valuable in is detailed study of a genus. There are a number of amateurs who have produced professional quality mycology results, and the best known ones have put great effort into studying a single genus so that their knowledge is comparable or better than the professionals. When is attended the NAMA foray in 1997, I helped with the cataloging of specimens to be placed in an herbarium. We were told that no ID should be accepted unless it was signed by one of the PhD mycologists. Until a guy named Raymond Fatto started submitting IDs for Russulas. Dr Murphy (the guy in charge of the herbarium bit) told us that his IDs were also OK to accept. Ben Woo is an amateur mycologist who has also published an excellent key to the genus Russula.

If you choose to do the genus thing, pick one that you'll be able to find enough kinds to make it worth your while. If you choose a genus like Flammulina or Chromosera you won't have much to do. At the same time, don't pick one like Cortinarius unless you're really going to get into it seriously.

Of course, any project pursued with diligence and good attention to details will produce some useful result, even if only to help educate you on how to do things better next time.

Good luck and happy mushrooming!


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Happy mushrooming!


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InvisibleRebelSteve33
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: ToxicMan]
    #1635988 - 06/15/03 11:31 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Wow...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your tips and suggestions!  That is exactly what I was hoping for...

I will definitely be referring to this thread before and while doing my research.  I want to make it as scientifically acceptable as possible.

One thing, though...

By drying the specimens, do you mean I actually have to use dessicant to get them completely cracker dry?  I'm assuming this is so, or else they will rot, right?

Also, would it be better to preserve individual specimens in jars of formaldehyde or something?  I would be willing to buy a bunch of jars and formaldehyde if it would be.

Thanks again, ToxicMan.  This has to be the twentieth time that I've wanted to rate you five shrooms.  You fuckin' rock!!!!!! :laugh: 


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Namaste.


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OfflineToxicManM
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: RebelSteve33]
    #1636136 - 06/16/03 12:21 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

The professional herbaria I'm familiar with just dry their specimens. The problem with formaldehyde is that it's poisonous and carcinogenic. I'd stay away from it if possible. Here in Denver they just use a regular dehydrator or sometimes just let them dry out (if they won't fit, for example). Of course, the humidity is pretty low here (often down near 20%). You might want to check with a local herbarium or professional mycologist for any tips on preserving specimens for an herbarium.

From what I've heard, insects are the biggest problem. If possible, see if a mycological herbarium near you would accept specimens you might provide. That's how I do it. Then you get to do the fun part (finding the mushrooms, making a collection, stuff like that), then they'll take care of the not-so-fun part of making sure the specimens will be available to researchers 200 years from now. The person running the herbarium can also probably give you some tips on making useful collections, preparing them for entry into the herbarium, and writing up your finds.

As another thought, just making scientifically useful deposits of specimens into professional quality herbaria is a good thing to do for science. As many of the current professional mycologists are retiring, they're not always replaced with mycologists. When Dr Orson Miller Jr retired he was replaced at the university with a molecular biologist. Few of these guys could find a specific kind of mushroom in the wild if they needed to. In the future, amateurs who can and do provide scientifically useful collections of mushrooms from the wild will probably become more and more valuable.

A couple years ago, when Dr Miller was retiring, he was also preparing a DNA study of Chroogomphus vinicolor (he's actually the guy who created the genus Chroogomphus). Knowing his interest in them, I made sure I collected some specimens of that species which I was able to provide to him for his study. He was trying to find out if they were actually the same species all over the world or different species that looked very similar. I haven't heard what the results of the study were (I'll ask him when I see him next), but it's cool to know that you've provided some of the actual specimens used for a professional study like that.

A lot of studies of that type are done on material from herbaria. So contributing specimens to them is a way to contribute to research that may be done later - even long after we're all dead.

Good luck and happy mushrooming!


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Happy mushrooming!


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InvisibleRebelSteve33
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: ToxicMan]
    #1636180 - 06/16/03 12:45 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Thanks, man!

How do I find a mycological herbarium near me, though? Should I just call all the universities around here and ask them?


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OfflineToxicManM
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: RebelSteve33]
    #1636201 - 06/16/03 12:53 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I'd start by contacting the professional mycologists nearby. There should be some at the universities. They have to have access to one (or more) for their specimens for the work they're doing.

Happy mushrooming!


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Happy mushrooming!


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InvisibleRebelSteve33
Amateur Mycologist
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Registered: 05/28/02
Posts: 3,774
Loc: Arizona
Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: ToxicMan]
    #1636210 - 06/16/03 12:57 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Cool...

I hope there are some professional mycologists near me.  My school does not even offer a mycology course, although it is a fairly small university.  I'm going to start trying to contact people about this ASAP, though... I'm really excited about it!  Hehe.

Thanks again, ToxicMan! :smile:

Peace,

RebelSteve


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Namaste.


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OfflineMagmaManiac
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Re: Need Some Serious Mycology Research Ideas, Please! [Re: RebelSteve33]
    #1637152 - 06/16/03 12:49 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

wow GREAT info. something i would love to do in the future. perhaps. toxicman is a master of disaster.


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