Love Our Land's Ohio Mushroom DNA Sequencing Initiative (OMDSI) analyzes and sequences mushroom samples sent to our lab from members of Love Our Land, other organizations, and any individual interested in participating in mapping Ohio’s mushroom/fungal diversity. The OMDSI intends to properly document the fungal diversity that Ohio has to offer, and we need YOUR help to accomplish this monumental feat.
We’re asking people to document, collect, and send us mushrooms they encounter from all parts of the state. We are interested in wild mushrooms/fungi from any location in the state, just please make sure to follow all rules and regulations on collecting mushrooms in your area.
Mycology is the study of fungi, including mushrooms. Prior to 1969, fungi, and mushrooms in particular, were thought of as non-flowering plants. In 1969, Fungi was rightfully classified as its own taxonomic kingdom. Even before 1969 and on, scientists, citizen researchers, naturalists, and enthusiasts have been interacting with species and taxonomically categorizing them.
Other than fungi being important to ecosystems and part of the food chain, they are also less understood than plants and animals which makes countless opportunities for new discoveries. Mushrooms are beautiful in many ways and offer so much to the environment. Mushroom researchers are discovering new species at an incredible rate due to DNA sequencing and new methodologies.
DNA sequencing or DNA barcoding is a method of identification using a small section of a sequence in a specific gene. For mushrooms we mainly look at the ITS gene, however different species require different gene areas to target, such as the LSU gene (e.g., Hygrocybe). With a combination of machines, chemicals, lab tools, and a computer we can take a small sample from a mushroom and turn it into a DNA sequence–consisting of several hundred A’s T’s C’s G’s–for positive identification.
Mushroom researchers are discovering new species at an incredible rate due to DNA sequencing and new methodologies. We are learning that so many “undescribed” species exist that were erroneously lumped together with another species because they looked nearly identical to a species that was named years ago. The Initiative has the potential to shed light on the numerous species of fungi left to discover right here in Ohio, including in our own backyards.
First, and very important, all participants must make an iNaturalist observation of the fungus found to qualify for the Project. Taking a variety of photographs of a fungus is critically important. We recommend including IN SITU (within the habitat where the fungus is initially observed) photographs of the fungus and several close-up shots of other angles of the fungus, including for mushrooms the top and underside of the cap. See attached doc in link:
Once a sufficient number of photographs are taken, collect the fungus and take it home to dry . The last step is to send a sample of your fungus to the designated address provided by Love Our Land. Next, you wait for the results. The iNaturalist observation is where we will post results as well as our social media. Again, the iNaturalist observation is a crucial step; without it we will be unable to process the sample.
Love Our Land is asking for the public's help for procuring the necessary equipment to launch this important initiative. We intend to purchase lab equipment and chemicals that cost more than our organization can currently afford. However, if we pool funds from the growing community of conservation-minded individuals in Ohio it can be financially feasible to attain everything needed to successfully implement the Project. We would love to be operational by early 2023!
One route to donating to this initiative. Please put OMDSI in comments. Thank you!
You can use PayPal to donate to the initiative. We truly appreciate your support. Please put OMDSI in the comment section.