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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, PhDResearch ProfessorDepartment of Biological SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayetteville, 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, PhDAssistant ProfessorEnvironmental HealthUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnati, OH 45229
Dr. Adhikari is a mycologist. He confirmed the identity of the basidiomycete specimens that were studied.
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.
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 denudata, a slime mold growing on a decaying log. Note the pink spore dust on the log.
Arcyria denudata spores, magnified, 1000X.
Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).
Armillariella mellea spores, magnified, 1000X.
Fuligo septica, a slime mold on mulch. Note the slime tracks left as it moved along the mulch.
Phellinus rimosus, a conk.
Arcyria cinerea spores and capillitium, magnified, 1000X.
Metatrichia vesparium, a slime mold growing on mossy wood.
Metatrichia vesparium capillitium and spores, magnified, 400X.
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