Genetic advances spur mycologists to put their kingdom in order
L. R. AND C. TULASNE/SELECTA FUNGORUM CARPOLOGIA 1861
To a visitor walking down, down, down the white cinder block stairwell and through metal doors into the basement, Building 010A takes on the hushed, mile-long-beige-corridor feel of some secret government installation in a blockbuster movie.
It’s not open to sightseers, but it’s far from secret. No jut-jawed military escort leads the way; biologist Shannon Dominick wears a striped sweater as she strolls through this Fort Knox of fungus, merrily discussing certain specimens in the vaults that are commonly called “dog vomit fungi.”
This basement on the campus of the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md., holds the second largest fungus collection in the world, with at least 1,000,000 specimens. Snuggled into exquisitely customized boxes and folders stored in high banks of institutional-beige metal cabinets are organisms that can glow in the dark, turn living ants into leaf-biting zombies, fetch thousands of dollars per pound at gourmet