Session Spotlight: Barcoding Fungi

by
Kris Jett

Kris Jett

The countdown to the deadline for abstract submission has begun! Remember, submit by midnight Eastern US Time on 15 June.

Barcoding Fungi

Session Spotlight

Session: Barcoding Fungi

Session Chair: Pedro Crous, Conrad Schoch and Keith Seifert

• What does your proposed session cover? Why is it important to barcoding?

The fungal sessions will introduce the officially selected fungal barcode marker, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the ribosomal DNA. This marker has a long history of application in fungal taxonomy and is one of the primary markers in environmental metagenomics involving fungi. With up to 1.5 million species, fungi are a large kingdom of mostly microorganisms that have so far largely been overlooked in DNA barcoding studies, although large scale ecological sampling has been underway for a while. As critical components of the biosphere, with many different biological roles, fungal barcoding should assume a high profile in the overall barcoding initiative. We will demonstrate the diversity of current projects in mycology related to health, trade, quarantine and many other aspects, as it relates to DNA barcoding.

• What is your vision for the 4th Conference?

We need to spread the message that mycologists have selected the ITS as the official fungal barcode, so that barcoders working at particular sites or on particular niches will be able to include fungi in their studies. We also need to make it possible for mycologists to play a more prominent role in the barcoding movement; many mycologists are waiting for the formalities to be completed so that they can begin contributing data. We expect that a significant number of fungal ITS barcodes will be released to coincide with the Conference, and that the number will continue to increase rapidly after the congress. It is also our intent to spur the expansion of collaboration amongst diverse groups of mycologists spanning the globe.

• What research do you do?

Crous, Schoch and Seifert are all fungal taxonomists mixing classical and molecular taxonomy. Schoch is also the mycological curator at GenBank.

• If people are interested in this topic, what can they do to get involved in addition to submitting an abstract?

There is an active Fungal group on Barcode Connect (Fungi) and a dedicated website housing a fungal barcode database built from data contributed by volunteers working on the official declaration of a fungal barcode: www.fungalbarcoding.org. The CBOL Fungal Working Group has mostly used this venue for its communication. We expect that the usefulness of this Group will continue to be enhanced once barcoding of fungi gains momentum.

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