Collection Provides Supply for Taxonomical Rescues

Jan 25, 2010 By Rosalie Marion Bliss
Collection Provides Supply for Taxonomical Rescues
Aspergillus fumigatus is just one of the 1,700 strains of fungi from the ARS Fungal Culture Collection, which survived Hurricane Katrina as freeze dried specimens. Micrograph courtesy of Maren Klich, ARS.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Agricultural Research Service maintains some of the world's largest publicly accessible collections of microbes that are used to benefit agricultural sciences. But some smaller ARS collections are critical to the day-to-day work of career scientists working at specific locations. Such is the case of the Fungal Culture Collection housed at the ARS Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) in New Orleans, La.

For nearly 30 years, the collection’s 1,700 strains have been curated by taxonomist Maren Klich. She chose a method of preserving the collection that essentially is the closest thing to putting into suspended animation. That strategy came in handy when widespread mold species needed to be identified after .

To preserve various fungi over time, Klich and colleagues actually "freeze-dry" tiny amounts of a .

In a small , water is removed from previously frozen fungi. That "suspends" the life of the live organism because the fungi can stay in that condition for upwards of 40 or 50 years. The resulting white pellets can be resuspended at any time by simply immersing the pellet in a liquid and placing the suspension on a petri dish containing agar. When the mold grows out, it comes back to life, according to Klich.

Another way the team could have chosen to preserve the live collection was to freeze them in . But the entire collection would have been lost during Hurricane Katrina if that method had been used, because the liquid nitrogen would have melted over time in the long- evacuated building.

Upon return to the SRRC after the natural disaster, Klich found the collection safe and sound. She then turned her attention to helping other agencies identify potentially dangerous mold species that occurred as a result of the water damage from the storm.

Read more about this and other collections in the January 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Explore further: New method could help estimate time of death for a ten-day-old corpse

Related Stories

Could fungal collection hold the key to new life-saving drugs?

Jun 13, 2007

Scientists may be one step closer to finding new drugs to fight MRSA, cancers and other diseases, after CABI, a leading bioservices organisation announced that its fungal collection will be screened by the University of Strathclyde.

ARS Plant Collections Help Safeguard Crops

Jan 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In the months ahead, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists plan to collect walnuts from Kyrgyzstan, grasses from Russia, and carrots and sunflowers from fields across the Southeastern ...

ARS Gene Collections Vital to Animal Research Efforts

Jan 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- When the National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) opened its doors a decade ago, it started out with genetic material from 40 lines of chicken. Today, the center operated by the Agricultural ...

Recommended for you

Can gene editing provide a solution to global hunger?

1 hour ago

According to the World Food Program, some 795 million people – one in nine people on earth – don't have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That will only get worse with the next global food cris ...

Age and fertility in social insects

1 hour ago

A new research unit coordinated at the University of Freiburg tackles the question of why the otherwise usual trade-off between fecundity and lifespan in multicellular organisms is not present in social insects ...

Fishing catch research pinpoints best assessment method

2 hours ago

Edith Cowan University researchers are working on tools to improve future fishing management and conservation by developing effective geostatistical methods with which to model the spatial distributions of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.