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What’ve we been up to?..

It’s been over 11 months since our last post. Where have we been? What have we been doing all this time?

The answer is, a lot… 2019 has been an extremely active year and here are a few of the details:

  • Andy (me) celebrated his 2nd work anniversary in January.
  • In May, Andy went to Salt Lake City to visit Bryn Dentinger at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
  • In May we also said goodbye to Dr. Melissa Islam, the Head Curator at Denver Botanic Gardens. She set off to a new life in Idaho and Seattle, WA with her family. She’s been missed.
  • Early June took Andy to Rachel Koch’s wedding in Minneapolis. There he got to reunite with Cathie Aime and other members of her lab.
  • Right after the wedding Andy took his annual pilgrimage to the Sierra Nevada Field Campus and the Spring Fungi course.
    • Seriously consider taking this course if you are interested in “leveling up” your mushroom ID skills.
  • Justin Loucks started as a summer seasonal employee, helping generate and organize DNA sequence data for the Colorado Mycoflora Project.
  • June was also busy writing the NSF CAREER proposal for the Colorado Mycoflora Project. This was important because the proposal was due on July 17th, and this was important because…
  • July 15-19, Andy took part in the Workshop to Enhance Collaboration Between US and Indonesia in Biodiversity and Conservation Research in Bogor, Indonesia.
  • During the trip Andy got to reconnect with fellow mycologists in the region, Atik Retnowati, Jaya Seelan, Dr Viki, Tan Yee Shin, and Agnes Chan.
    • This story will be on the travel blog too, whenever Andy gets around to it.
  • Early August Vera and Andy returned to ACES to teach their Mushroom ID course.
    • Andy got tricked seeing double…
The Meyers sisters (Phebe and Nika, which is which?) are enjoying Andy’s confusion waaaay too much.
(Good thing they’re wearing name tags!)
  • After ACES, Andy went to the Adirondacks in upstate, New York for the North American Mycological Association’s Meeting at Paul Smith’s.
  • Before the end of the NAMA meeting, Andy had to fly back to Denver for the CMS Mushroom Festival on August 11th.
    • The Fair Identifier this year was Dr. Andrew Methven. We had a great time and went for Ethiopian food after the fair.
Enjoying a post CMS Fair meal at Queen of Sheeba. L-R: ???, Justin Loucks, and Andrew Methven.
  • Rick Levy and Andy then left two days later for the Telluride Mushroom Festival. They took a few days after the festival to travel down the Million Dollar Highway and collect in the San Juan Mountains and Rio Grande National Forests. They came back with nearly 200 collections.
  • Gary Olds started his Ph.D. program at University of Colorado Denver.
  • Andy finished out the month of August by celebrating his parent’s 50th anniversary with them and friends in California.
  • At the end of August and into early September the Research and Conservation Department at DBG began interviewing for the Head Curator position.
  • September was a lot of organizing, packing and moving the lab into the herbarium.
    • More details on this to come.
  • The Sam Mitchel Herbarium had to temporarily say goodbye to their volunteers as we prepare for the big move.

And the year isn’t over. I very much want to keep up with the blogging and updating the website with content so stay tuned for more to come.

Whether or not I get my wish, we’ll have to see.
Andy out…

EDIT 10/6/2019: Some other details that were left out.

  • In May, Rock Canyon High School students Andrew Hines, Camden Meyer, and Jason McDonald sampled tissues from Russula specimens for their 2019-2020 Biotechnology class project.
    • The students presented their project to teachers and parents in September.
  • Caroline Hildebrand put together her master’s thesis proposal using GPS to develop diversity models for predicting habitats for macrofungi in the Southern Rockies.

We did it!… Now what?

We hit our fundraising goal on Experiment.com.  BUT!!! We still have about 1.5 days before the clock runs out at midnight on August 31st. As is mentioned on our crowdfunding page, the $5000 we intended to raise would cover approximately 20-25% of our 5-year goal to sequence 1000 species of macrofungi from the Southern Rockies. Any money we get in excess of this will add opportunity and flexibility towards this 5-year goal. And note that this 1000 species is only about half of the known diversity in the Southern Rockies, much less than that of the total possible diversity. So regardless, there’s still a long way to go.

Apart from DNA sequencing, what else can we use the money for?  Well a big part of this project is to study the morphology of these organisms.  The DNA sequence data should be considered a roadmap of sorts. A metaphorical bread crumb trail that leads us to a better interpretation of what the different mushroom species are.  However, it’s better for everyone involved if we could provide field guides and tools that allow people to identify different species directly from their morphology.  For this we will need to examine many collections from macro- AND micromorphological perspectives.

So, additional funding will allow us to purchase tackle boxes, and other collecting gear.  We will also upgrade our tools for microscopy (finer forceps, additional cover slips, reagents to test reactions on mushrooms, etc.). And as we grow the collections, we will need more bin and specimen boxes to appropriately catalog and store the fungi.

Also, the money from crowdfunding will free up funds from our endowments, allowing us more opportunities to bring in visiting scientists who have expertise in fungi relevant to the Southern Rockies. And while this crowdfunding campaign will come to a close, we will still be accepting donations from people wanting to support the Project. However, we will mostly be focusing our energies in acquiring additional funding through grants that will support summer internships, as well as collecting and producing DNA sequence data.

So in the upcoming months, we’ll be sorting and identifying the collections and figuring out the next steps for the Project.  Check back periodically to see what’s going on.

Cheers!

IMG_2630

Working hard in the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi to describe, document, and process the season’s collections. L-R Vera Evenson, Trina Wilson, Ed Lubow, Ikuko Lubow (in purple shirt), Linnea Gillman.

IMG_2633

Ikuko with a Laccaria with an exceptionally long stipe. We’re toying with the idea that it’s L. longipes but this species is from bogs in upstate Wisconsin/upper peninsula Michigan. DNA sequencing will help us sort it out.