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Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Introduction
by Danny Miller
In this series, I will be analyzing the results of several different projects that have funded the DNA sequencing of our local mushrooms. These sequencing efforts have provided a valuable database of information, but analyzing the data properly can be difficult as there are few, in any, textbooks and courses that teach these new techniques. Graduate students in university labs are often having to teach each other tricks and tips they have picked up because some of these techniques are too new to have been incorporated into school curricula. My goals include the following:
1. Increase our knowledge of the local mushrooms that exist in the Pacific Northwest climate zones of North America. Try to provide some answers to questions that have been plaguing mycologists for years. Write up my conclusions in articles like this one on the PSMS website and/or other public forums. Where clear answers are not within reach, I will pinpoint specific next steps that will help answer our most pressing taxonomical questions.
2. Update “MatchMaker”, the free PNW mushroom identification program of which I am a co-author, and its pictorial key with the latest discoveries.
3. Provide summaries as well as detailed pages of information, so those who are interested in varying levels of detail can quickly find something useful or interesting.
4. Practice and master the techniques of properly analyzing DNA results so that I will be able to teach it to others.
These articles will not just be the dry details about the new things we have learned. It is my intention to make them fun to read little ID classes with interesting stories and tips for learning about the group of mushrooms that the exciting new information is about.
PSMS (the Puget Sound Mycological Society, http://www.psms.org) has funded the sequencing of all the collections saved at the NAMA (the North American Mycological Association, http://www.namyco.org) foray near Mt. Rainier WA in 2014. PSMS and NAMA co-funded the sequencing of the collections saved at the NAMA foray near Salem OR in 2018. PSMS is also funding the sequencing of newer collections made at PSMS forays and events. These projects contributed greatly to this and further articles I will write about other genera. This was all done with the generous sequencing help of Stephen Russell of Purdue University, the Hoosier Mushroom Society of Indiana and a founding board member of the North American MycoFlora Project.
The non-profit "North American MycoFlora project" (http://www.mycoflora.org) was recently founded by members of the continent-wide "North American Mycological Association" of amateur mycologists partnered with the "Mycological Society of America" (the association of professional mycologists) to create an organization that could help all of the dozens of mushroom clubs across the continent study their local mushrooms. Specifically, they help educate clubs about how to do DNA sequencing projects and provide low cost services and funding assistance so that each club doesn't have to figure out how to do it on their own. It's also a way to make sure that all of the experts in the various groups of mushrooms have access to the data discovered by every club on the continent to make sure that the information learned gets disseminated and written up in papers for the greater good.
I am a co-author of the free PNW mushroom identification program “MatchMaker” (http://www.matchmakermushrooms.com) and its pictorial key, and the results of these studies will be making their way into these programs.
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