Lierl Lab

  • Current Projects

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    + Producing allergen extracts of myxomycete and basidiomycete spores

    The various species of myxomycetes and basidiomycetes are located in the outdoor environment (local woods, fields, mulch beds, lawns). They are identified using field guides, and the identity of each species is confirmed by an expert. The spores are collected if possible. For very small species of myxomycetes, the entire fruiting body is collected. An allergen extract is made from the gathered material and is filter sterilized, stabilized with 50% glycerin, and stored in sterile vials in a refrigerator. I am still working on refining the methods for making the extracts and plan to also conduct studies to identify the allergenic content of each extract.


    Steven L. Stephenson, PhD
    Research Professor
    Department of Biological Sciences
    University of Arkansas
    Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701

    Dr. Stephenson is a world-renowned expert on myxomycetes and wrote the guidebook that I used for the collection of myxomycete specimens. He also confirmed the identification of the myxomycete species that were studied.

    Atin Adhikari, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Environmental Health
    University of Cincinnati
    Cincinnati, OH 45229

    Dr. Adhikari is a mycologist. He confirmed the identity of the basidiomycete specimens that were studied.

    + Allergy prick skin testing with the experimental extracts

    The extract of each species was used for allergy prick testing. First, non-allergic volunteers were tested to make sure that the extracts did not cause false-positive reactions due to irritant effects. None of the extracts caused false-positive reactions. Second, subjects with a history of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) symptoms had allergy skin prick testing done with a panel of 9 myxomycete species and 10 basidiomycete species. The skin prick testing was done using standard techniques, usually along with routine allergy skin prick testing in the Allergy Clinic.

    1. Myxomycete data: Sixty-nine subjects were tested with the myxomycete extracts. Forty-two percent of subjects had positive prick test results for at least 1 myxomycete extract, with 9% to 22% reacting to each extract. These 9 species of myxomycetes comprise the only species for which I was able to collect sufficient quantity of material to make allergen extracts. Therefore, no additional myxomycete species are going to be tested. The skin testing data for the myxomycetes has been published: Lierl, MB. Myxomycete (slime mold) spores: unrecognized aeroallergens? Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol ;111 (2013): 537-541.
    2. Basidiomycete data: The 10 species tested so far also gave a high rate of positive skin test results: forty-five percent of the 73 subjects tested had a positive skin test to one or more species of basidiomycetes, with 4% to 30% reacting to each extract. I plan to test another batch of basidiomycete species, as there are so many species prevalent in our area. The basidiomycete data will be published all together, after the second set of species has been tested.

    + Growing myxomycetes in bulk

    Methods for growing myxomycetes in bulk are being tested. Myxomycete researchers have been able to isolate myxomycetes by culturing small bits of bark in moist chamber cultures, but the large-scale production of single species of myxomycete has not yet been developed. This step will be necessary in order to make further studies feasible, since the collection of myxomycetes in the field is labor intensive and sporadic.

  • Arcyria denudate, a slime mold growing on a decaying log. Note the pink spore dust on the log.
    Arcyria denudate spores, magnified 1000x
    Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom)
    Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom)
    Armillariella mellea spores, 1000x
    Fuligo septica, a slime mold on mulch. Note the slime tracks left as it moved along the mulch.
    Fuligo septica spores and capillitium, magnified 1000x.
    Phellinus rimosus, a conk
    Phellinus rimosus, underside
    Phellinus rimosus spores, 1000x
    Hemitrichia clavata, a slime mold growing on wood
    Hemitrichia clavata capillitium, magnified 1000 times
    Hemitrichia clavata spores, magnified 1000x
    Exidia alba, a jelly fungus
    Exidia alba spores 1000x
    Arcyria cinerea, a tiny slime mold growing on decaying wood
    Arcyria cinerea spores and capillitium, magnified 1000x
    Lycoperdon pyriforme, a puffball
    Lycoperdon pyriforme spores 1000x
    Metatrichia vesparium, a slime mold growing on mossy wood
    Metatrichia vesparium capillitium and spores, magnified 400x