Mycoflora Project

What is the Mycoflora Project (MP)?

The MP is a process by which Citizen Scientist can contribute in a meaningful way to science and scientist. We all know that fungi in a way are unique in that their appearance is very sporadic and often unpredictable. How can professional mycologist hope to be able to do any meaningful surveying? That answer is through the aid of Citizen Scientist - through your help. That lofty goal fulfills the big picture concept, but the Project offers so much more. Through the partnership with mycologist of vision, each participant at the local level can get as much out of the project as they want.

So how does the process work?

One of the basic keys to the MP is the numbered cards MP give us so that each mushroom looked at in a serious way is given a specific numbered identity. The cards ask for relevant information that will hopefully help with the eventual correct ID. 1) The first step in the process means filling out the card and at the same time you are also taking pictures in the field of the fungi of interest. 2) The second step is put the picture onto the clubs iNaturalst web site; included with needed information and the ID card number and location. ...........That can be the end of the process if you want or the mushroom for one of several reasons can move on to look at a small portion of the DNA. ............3) Those fungi that get sent in for sequencing, will then need to be dried. That's it for the individuals responsibility. 4) At some later point at a gathering Corinne affectionately calls a "Packaging Party" a handful of volunteers will extract the tissue from the dried sample to go into the lab. (This is a different Protocol than previously). All information is gathered and checked and rechecked by the Packaging Party people and bundled up and sent to the lab for processing. Then we wait ........and wait ....... for results.

When results come in, then what?

The first thing of interest when the DNA results come back will be a confirmation our ID was correct - or we got it wrong. 5) Once we know the best ID for the mushroom, we can go back in and change the species if need be and then package up and send the dried mushrooms to a fungarium for safe keeping under ideal conditions for, well, forever! (Sending to fungarium can be done at the same time as Packaging Party but correcting for wrong species is more work). Our samples - your sample - will be going to the Burke Herbarium at UW. ...........We are now done with your mushroom and will never see it or touch it again. Hopefully, later you will be able to see a picture of the shriveled up dried mushroom on the Burke Herbarium web page.

What happens to the DNA results of your mushroom?

While we haven't seen the process continue yet to this point, we are told the DNA results will be viewable on a website coming out of the MP. 6) Here changes can be made - or not, depending on our instructions - before the information moves on to GenBank - the huge database of DNA information. .........For instance Mary McCallum found a Cordyceps militaris that the SSMC paid to have sequenced and is now in GenBank. Mary's specific GenBank number for this mushroom - MK358144. That page shows the actual sequence, Mary's name, where it was found and a whole bunch of other information that is there for the whole world to see). From this point there are layers and layers of deeper scientific exploration you - or any other scientist can do with Mary's information. A really fun next step process is to run a blast from the page you just opened up - you hit the Blast link on the right hand side and Blast on the next page (scroll down second page - left lower corner). That compares Mary's find to the the rest of the sequences entered into GenBank. Way cool!