Development of a DNA barcoding protocol for fungal specimens in Acadia University’s E.C. Smith Herbarium
LE3 .A278 2016
Bachelor of Science
DNA-based fungal identifications are only as good as our reference databases. Fungi remain greatly underrepresented in NCBI’s GenBank in terms of reliable species-level DNA barcode sequences. Many fungal specimens exist in herbaria around the world and contain an untapped wealth of taxonomic and ecological fungal biodiversity information; however DNA can be difficult to obtain from legacy specimens. The E.C. Smith Herbarium at Acadia University houses a 20,000 specimen fungal collection which has never been sequenced, including the Boland collection. This collection represents a fungal biodiversity survey conducted by Gregory Boland in 1975 in the saltmarshes of the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia. I developed a DNA extraction protocol that provides a base on which Acadia’s entire fungal collection (~20 000 specimens) can be sequenced. A total of eight DNA barcodes were isolated from the Boland Collection through development of the protocol. Two specimens had their identities confirmed while six more had their identities updates to the species level, all data was uploaded to NCBI’s GenBank. Expanding the number of ITS barcode sequences present in GenBank using identified vouchered specimens will enhance fungal identification worldwide. Increased capacity for species identification of fungi will support bioprospecting of previously unknown and undescribed fungal biodiversity, some of which may produce secondary metabolites with medical or industrial applications. Additionally, improving our phylogenetic knowledge of the Boland collection will provide a more accurate representation of the fungal diversity in the Minas Basin in 1975. This information will complement future biodiversity studies in the Bay of Fundy region and allow us to investigate changes in these enigmatic, ecologically relevant saprotrophic communities over time.
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