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Preservation and distribution of fungal cultures

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Nakasone, Karen K.; Peterson, Stephen W.; Jong, Shung-Chang

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Biodiversity of fungi : inventory and monitoring methods. Amsterdam : Elsevier Academic Press, 2004: Pages 37-47.


Maintaining and preserving fungal cultures are essential elements of systematics and biodiversity studies. Because fungi are such a diverse group, several methods of cultivation and preservation are required to ensure the viability and morphological, physiological, and genetic integrity of the cultures over time. The cost and convenience of each method, however, also must be considered. We encourage the reader to investigate the excellent papers on fungal preservation by Fennell 1960), Smith and Onions (1994), Smith (1991), and Simione and Brown (1991). The primary methods of culture preservation are continuous growth, drying, and freezing. Continuous growth methods, in which cultures are grown on agar, typically are used for short-term storage. Such cultures are stored at temperatures of from 5°-20°C, or they may be frozen to increase the interval between subcultures. The methods are simple and inexpensive because specialized equipment is not required. Drying is the most useful method of preservation for cultures that produce spores or other resting structures. Silica gel, glass beads, and soil are substrata commonly used in drying. Fungi have been stored successfully on silica gel for up to 11 years (Smith and Onions 1983). Drying methods are technically simple and also do not require expensive equipment. Freezing methods, including cryopreservation, are versatile and widely applicable. Most fungi can be preserved, with or without cryoprotectants, in liquid nitrogen or in standard home freezers. With freeze drying, or lyophilization, the fungal cultures are frozen and subsequently dried under vacuum. The method is highly successful with cultures that produce mitospores. Freeze-drying and freezing below -1 35°C are excellent methods for permanent preservation, and we highly recommend them. However, both methods require specialized and expensive equipment, as described in the next section (see "Liquid Nitrogen" and "Lyophilization" under "Long-term Preservation," later in this chapter). The choice of preservation method depends on the species of concern, the resources available, and the goal of the project. Some low- cost methods of preservation, such as storage in distilled water and the silica gel method, are good, but none is considered permanent. The maximum duration of storage varies with each method and with the species being preserved, but it generally is 10 years or less. Whenever possible, fungal strains should be preserved with one of the permanent methods (lyophilization, cryopreservation) described later in this chapter see "Long-term Preservation"). Permanent preservation is essential for strains with critically important characteristics and for type specimens. Cultures that are permanently preserved in metabolically inactive states now can serve as type specimens, according to Article 8.4 of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Greuter et al. 2000).


Fungi; fungal cultures; fungi distribution; fungi preservation


Nakasone, Karen K.; Peterson, Stephen W.; Jong, Shung-Chang. 2004. Preservation and distribution of fungal cultures. Biodiversity of fungi : inventory and monitoring methods. Amsterdam : Elsevier Academic Press, 2004: Pages 37-47.

Last updated on: July 15, 2008