Feature

The name of the fungus

Genetic advances spur mycologists to put their kingdom in order

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1:55pm, April 18, 2014

DEFINING A KINGDOM  In the peculiar, shape-shifting world of fungi (Erysiphe guttata shown), a rebellion has broken out against the traditional way of naming species. 

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.”

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