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  • Sending Specimens for Research

    We are always looking for uncommon, unique, and otherwise interesting specimens from Indiana. If you have a specimen that fits this bill, you may be asked to save the specimen for further research, where we are likely to examine the DNA of the specimen. This is a quick guide to that process. 

    1. Collect the specimen and bring it home. Be sure to collect the entire base of the mushroom. Sometimes you may have to dig into the ground slightly. If the specimen is small, it may be best to collect/save two or three individual mushrooms. If the mushroom is large, you can just save a portion of the specimen, such as 1/4 of the cap or a cross section (1/2) of the mushroom. If you are only saving a portion, the area with the gills/pores is better to save than the stem only. The spores are located on the gills/pores and they can be useful for identification with a microscope.

    2. Take additional photographs of the specimen (in the field and at home) and upload the photographs to iNaturalist. These iNat reports help us keep track of all of the metadata (collection date, location, notes, etc.) associated with a specimen. Example iNat report: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/121154723

    Note: Anything you put in the "Collector's Name" field will be used in the GenBank accession and herbarium record. If you do not fill this out, it defaults to "iNaturalist.org user: Username." If you do not wish to fill out this field every time, fill in your "Display Name" in your account settings. This is the primary default for Collector's Name.

    3. Dry the specimen using a dehydrator (on the lowest temperature setting; below 105) or a fan. If your dehydrator does not have a temperature setting, it is still fine to use it. DO NOT USE AN OVEN TO DRY THE SPECIMEN. It will typically take 12-24 hours to dry the specimen. You want them to be near cracker dry. Large specimens can be cut in half (or more). No need to send the entire mushroom for large specimens. A small portion is fine.

    4. Put the dried specimen in a ziplock bag and write the iNat number from the URL on the outside of the bag. Ex - 121154723. You can choose to download field data slips if you have lots of specimens. These are sequentially numbered and can be used to help organize your specimens for drying and shipment. If you use these, please be sure to write the iNat number on the slip and to make sure that number is visible from the outside of the bag. (This way the record can be validated without the need to open the bag.) My favorite bags for shipments are the snack or sandwich bags from Meijer. They are easy to open and close, and allows me to clearly see the specimen from the outside.

    Note: if you are sending lots of specimens, it is a significant time savings for me if they are ordered sequentially by the data slip number. This allows me to quickly verify all the data is associated with the iNat observations.

    5. Mail the specimen. It may be possible to mail the specimen using a standard envelope. It is fine to smash the specimen flat a bit for the mail, or to detach the cap from the stem to get it to lay flat. Otherwise, a small box will work fine. Specimens can be sent to:

    Stephen Russell
    3912 S. Carey St.
    Marion, IN 46953

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