How you can help the ICOM8 mycology conference in Flagstaff

icom-8-logo-600x400A few months ago, I posted news of the 8th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM8) taking place at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff next month. The official program for the meeting has now been published, and nearly 450 attendees from around the world have registered.

From the point of view of the Arizona amateur mushrooming community, the most interesting thing about the meeting will be the keynote speech by Dr. Tom Bruns of UC Berkeley. This lecture will take place at Prochnow Auditorium on the NAU campus between 7:30 and 9:00 PM on Monday 3 August 2015.

The title of the lecture is Forest fire and fungi: losers, winners, and strategies in the post-fire environment. Say, do you think the “winners” he will talk about might look something like this?

(Kevin Widner)

(Kevin Widner)

The lecture is open to the general public, including us amateur mushroom collectors. If you have an interest in mycology, ecology, soil science or fire science, and in particular an interest in fire-loving fungal species (like MORELS!), you’ll want to make time to see this.

The organizer of the conference, Dr. Kitty Gehring of the Gehring Mycorrhizal Ecology Lab at the NAU Dept. of Biological Sciences, has let me know that it would be helpful if some knowledgeable local mushroomers could assist with the group foray that will take place near Flagstaff on the morning of Wednesday 5 August.  There will be about 60 visiting mycologists from near and far who will be going out on the San Francisco Peaks to examine our fungal flora. You’d need to provide your own transportation, and you’d need to be an intermediate or expert level collector who could talk with a reasonable amount of confidence about our local species. If you can help, please let her know promptly.

But even if you’re a rank beginner, there is another way you could be of help to this conference. Dr. Gehring likes the idea of having a table showing off interesting local fungi when the conference opens. However, she is far too busy with preparations for the meeting to organize or contribute to this exhibit herself. I had been hoping to make a “mycoblitz” foray myself on Saturday and Sunday, Aug 1-2, inviting along any interested Flagstaff mushroomers to try to gather as many local species as possible in a couple of days, but sadly I will not be able to get free from work that weekend.

If the rains cooperate, and you can get out in the field in the 3-4 days before the conference opens, please consider contributing to this project. Species uniquely found in the Southwest would be of particular interest. Boletus barrowsii, Sparassis americana var. arizonica, and the Southwestern “Sun Caesar”, Amanita caesarea/”cochiseana” are the charismatic “panda bears” of the Arizona fungal flora that everyone would especially like to see, but let’s try to find some other local species that might be unfamiliar to mycologists elsewhere in the country and around the world.  How about some Lactarius barrowsii, Suillus kaibabensis, Harrya chromapes, Amanita novinupta, or Floccularia straminea? Or if you’re coming up from the low country, some Podaxis pistillaris, Tulostoma, Battarea, Montagnea, or Agaricus bitorquis/A. deserticola/A. pinonensis?

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Almost anything fungal that you find could potentially be of interest to someone at this conference, although mycorrhizal species rather than wood-rotters and other saprobes would be particularly sought. If you get some material that you would like to contribute to this initiative, contact Mike Dechter on the Arizona Mushroom Forum Facebook group page, or send a message to me and I’ll get you in touch with him.

Happy hunting! Wish I could join you!

About Christopher May

Chris is a radiologist in private practice in Scottsdale. He is married to Barbara May, with two grown children, Megan and Nick.
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