Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois


  Mycology (fungi)




Andrew Miller
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Daniel Radaubaugh
Mycology PhD student
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Fungal systematics

Phylogenetic relationships of fungi are poorly known. The Miller Mycology Lab incorporates modern molecular techniques with traditional taxonomic methods to test morphological-based classifications from the class level to the species level. Well-supported phylogenies provide clues as to which morphological characters may be informative for predicting evolutionary relationships and which are misleading. In most cases, molecular phylogenies do not reflect current classifications leading to new insights regarding character evolution in fungi.

The Miller Mycology Lab is currently conducting systematic studies on a wide variety of fungi, including Sordariomycetes, Dothideomycetes, Geoglossomycetes (earth tongues), Annulatascaceae, Clavariadelphus, Morchella (true morels) and Gyromitra (false morels).


Fungal biodiversity

With an estimated 1.5 million species, fungi constitute the most diverse group of eukaryotic organisms on earth, second only to insects in the number of species thought to exist. However, less than 100,000 species or 7% of fungi have been described so far indicating a great deal of fungal biodiversity remains to be discovered. 

The Miller Mycology Lab is actively conducting biodiversity inventories of ascomycetes—the largest known group of fungi—throughout the World, primarily in New World temperate and tropical areas. It is also currently investigating fungal biodiversity in Great Lakes sediments to determine their bioactive properties.


Bat White-Nose Syndrome

Discovered in 2006 in New York, Bat WNS is responsible for the deaths of over 5 million bats in 19 states and 4 Canadian provinces and is rapidly moving westward. The causative agent is a fungus known as Geomyces destructans (Gds). Little is known about this fungus and even less about fungal communities in mines and caves.

The Miller Mycology Lab is inventorying and monitoring whole fungal communities in mines and caves inhabited by hibernating bats to detect the arrival of Gds in Illinois. A team of experts has been assembled at the University of Illinois and includes two mammalogists, a mycologist, a microbial ecologist, a wildlife veterinary epidemiologist and a cave biologist. The team is using molecular and culture-based approaches to evaluate bats and cave/mine substrates for the presence of Gds and to describe the microbial communities within these ecosystems. This study will provide crucial data on the occurrence and distribution of Gds and the make-up of the microbial communities in which it must survive.



The Illinois Natural History Survey (ILLS) Fungarium contains over 70,000 specimens including approximately 12,000 basidiomycetes, 25,000 ascomycetes, 15,000 imperfect fungi, 11,000 lichens, 1,200 zygomycetes and oomycetes, and 1,500 myxomycetes. The collection also possesses 995 type specimens, mostly ascomycetes and imperfect fungi, including 235 holotypes and 555 isotypes and/or paratypes. The fungi are mostly collected from throughout North America with a large plant pathological collection from Illinois, a large aquatic ascomycete collection from the United States and Canada, and a smaller ascomycete collection from the neotropics. As of July 2011, the University of Illinois (ILL) Fungarium is now housed at the same location as the ILLS specimens. This collection contains over 95,000 specimens of mostly ascomycetes and imperfect fungi and includes 4009 type specimens and 43,394 exsiccati.

All fungal specimens at Southern Illinois University (SIU) were acquired in 2011. This collection contains over 8,000 specimens of mostly basidiomycetes, but also includes 600 myxomycetes from G.W. Martin.

All fungal specimens at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) were acquired in 2013. This collection contains over 15,000 specimens of mostly basidiomycetes and over 5000 lichens. In total, there are over 183,000 fungal specimens housed at the Illinois Natural History Survey ranking it within the top ten largest fungaria in the United States.

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