North American Mycoflora Project
Citizen science is mushrooming!
NAMA was an early adopter of vouchering fungi using standard scientific collection, identification, photography and dehydration methods. For twenty one years NAMA has been preserving specimens from annual forays at The Field Museum in Chicago
. NAMA members provided the people power for these collections, thus exhibiting an early version of what we now call citizen science. In recent years, NAMA established a Mycoflora Committee and began funding sequencing vouchered collections from annual forays as well. Now NAMA is a key partner in the North American Mycoflora Project.
The case for a North American Mycoflora was first made in articles by Matheny and Vellinga 2009
, and Bruns 2011
in the Inoculum
(newsletter of the Mycological Society of America), and the call was repeated by Bruns and Beug 2012
. The goal was to create an online compendium of all North American macrofungi (those visible with the unaided eye) based preserved specimens (vouchers) and genetic sequences. The tag line Bruns proposed was: “Without a sequenced specimen, it’s a rumor.” Bruns secured funding for a large meeting of amateurs and professionals at Yale in 2012, a meeting
in which NAMA played a key role. Without funding, however, little progress was made. Bruns estimated it would take $16-18 million for professionals to construct the mycoflora.
In July 2017 the North American Mycoflora Project was re-conceived as a citizen science-driven enterprise at a workshop
of citizen scientists and academic mycologists at the annual meeting of the Mycological Society of America (the professional counterpart to NAMA). The aim is to empower hundreds or thousands of volunteers around North America to collect and document fungal biodiversity, working in collaboration with professional mycologists.
North American Mycoflora Project, Inc. was established and has received tax-exempt status as a charitable organization. NAMA is a key partner and the NAMA Mycoflora Committee has been the primary liaison. After the July workshop, MSA’s board pledged $20,000 in matching funds to NAMP, Inc for sequencing by citizen scientists. NAMA’s board subsequently pledged significant funding for sequencing specimens from NAMA forays and NAMA-affiliated clubs.
Through its website, www.mycoflora.org
, NAMP, Inc. has posted information
on how to start a local mycoflora project and protocols for photo-documenting, vouchering and preparing specimens for sequencing. As of 2018, applications are being taken from registered projects for sequencing grants. We encourage our affiliated clubs to get involved, create projects in their own local area, and help move this scientific work forward.
For more information, visit the website; join the lively Mycoflora 2.0 discussion group (facebook.com/groups/mycoflora.2.0/
); or email firstname.lastname@example.org