On 2/21/23 we visited the Dentinger Lab at the Natural History Museum for a tour led by mycologist Keaton Tremble. PhD candidate Colin Domnauer also helped out.
What is a Fungarium?
A collection of dried fruiting bodies (the part of the fungus one normally sees and collects) with associated collection information. Even when dried, they can be used for DNA sequencing.
The dried fungal specimens of the lab are kept within the climate controlled Garrett Herbarium (the gray cabinets shown below).
Although work on many different species happens within the Dentinger lab, it is notable place for two main reasons: About 70% of the fungaria porcini collections of the world reside within the lab and it is one of the only mycology labs in the world that focusses on whole-genome sequencing.
This 2022 paper reports the results of whole-genome sequencing for 160 Boletus edulis individuals from across the Northern Hemisphere.
"We show that B. edulis exhibits contrasting patterns of genomic divergence between continents, with multiple lineages present across North America, while a single lineage dominates Europe. These geographical lineages are inferred to have diverged 1.62–2.66 million years ago, during a period of climatic upheaval and the onset of glaciation in the Pliocene–Pleistocene boundary. High levels of genomic differentiation were observed among lineages despite evidence of substantial and ongoing introgression. Genome scans, demographic inference, and ecological niche models suggest that genomic differentiation is maintained by environmental adaptation, not physical isolation."
-Tremble, Hoffman and Dentinger, 2022 New Phytologist
Within Utah, two distinct lineages of Boletus edulis (porcini) reside, all the more reason it is a fantastic candidate for the Utah State Mushroom!
You can help contribute to the work being done there either through volunteering for the museum or by donating your dried fungal specimens. More information on donation of specimens can be found by contacting collections manger Allison Izaksonas. (Keaton recommended drying your mushrooms at 45 Celsius for 1.5 days.)