This project looked at the diversity of fungal populations that can inform forest management practices to protect diversity in BC, the most biologically diverse province in the country. Barcoding is a Canadian initiative (International Barcode of Life) and it provides a strategic approach to systematically characterizing biological diversity. Barcode databases consist of sequences from a small region of DNA from specimens representing diverse species. The barcoding project involves applying genomic techniques to sequence one gene from each of 900 fungal specimens that grow symbiotically with pines, Douglas fir and hemlock trees, and form ectomycorrhizae, or ‘fungus roots’ that help the trees absorb nutrients. Because barcodes can be used to construct ecological microarrays or identify fungi from clone libraries, they will be used to correlate species presence and absence with ecological functions.
Through this project, the group added 799 new mushroom specimens to the new Beaty Biodiversity Museum. This well-preserved, barcoded, species-rich (998 specimens) collection will serve as a central reference point for future systematic and ecological studies of these genera.