close up of multiple mushrooms

The Macrofungi Collection Consortium: Unlocking a Biodiversity Resource for Understanding Biotic Interactions, Nutrient Cycling and Human Affairs

Barbara M. Thiers and Roy Halling

Mushrooms and related fungi (macrofungi) play a critical role in the lives of plants and animals, including humans, yet their diversity is underestimated. Understanding this diversity will be critical in analyzing impacts of habitat change, nutrient cycling in ecosystems, and distributions and diversity of host organisms. Scientists in the U.S. have been studying these fungi for the past 150 years, resulting in a legacy of approximately 1.4 million dried scientific specimens conserved in 35 institutions in 24 states. These institutions have now joined in an effort to digitize and share online all data associated with macrofungi specimens. The resulting resource will enable a national census of macrofungi, never before attempted, and will allow researchers to better understand the diversity of these organisms and the relationship between macrofungi and the organisms with which they form intimate relationships. As the lead institution for this project, The New York Botanical Garden provided training for all participants, organized and prioritized the activities, and is also digitizing approximately 100,000 specimens of macrofungi held in the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium.

More information: Mycology Collections Portal