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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.

Collaborators:

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.

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 one myxomycete extract, with 9% to 22% reacting to each extract. These nine 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.

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.

Myxomycete

Arcyria denudata, a slime mold growing on a decaying log. Note the pink spore dust on the log.

 

Arcyria denudate, a slime mold growing on a decaying log. Note the pink spore dust on the log.
Phellinus rimosus spores, 1000x.

Basidiomycete

Phellinus rimosus spores, magnified, 1000X.
Phellinus rimosus spores, 1000x.
Hemitrichia clavata, a slime mold growing on wood.

Myxomycete

Hemitrichia clavata, a slime mold growing on wood.
Hemitrichia clavata, a slime mold growing on wood.
Hemitrichia clavata capillitium, magnified 1000 times.

Myxomycete

Hemitrichia clavata capillitium, magnified, 1000X.
Hemitrichia clavata capillitium, magnified 1000 times.
Hemitrichia clavata spores, magnified 1000x.

Myxomycete

Hemitrichia clavata spores, magnified, 1000X.
Hemitrichia clavata spores, magnified 1000x.
Exidia alba, a jelly fungus.

Basidiomycete

Exidia alba, a jelly fungus.
Exidia alba, a jelly fungus.
Exidia alba spores 1000x.

Basidiomycete

Exidia alba spores, magnified, 1000X.
Exidia alba spores 1000x.
Arcyria cinerea, a tiny slime mold growing on decaying wood.

Myxomycete

Arcyria cinerea, a tiny slime mold growing on decaying wood.
Arcyria cinerea, a tiny slime mold growing on decaying wood.
Arcyria cinerea spores and capillitium, magnified 1000x.

Myxomycete

Arcyria cinerea spores and capillitium , magnified, 1000X.

 

Arcyria cinerea spores and capillitium, magnified 1000x.
Lycoperdon pyriforme, a puffball.

Basidiomycete

Lycoperdon pyriforme, a puffball.
Lycoperdon pyriforme, a puffball.
Lycoperdon pyriforme spores 1000x.

Basidiomycete

Lycoperdon pyriforme spores, magnified, 1000X.
Lycoperdon pyriforme spores 1000x.
Arcyria denudate spores, magnified 1000x.

Myxomycete

Arcyria denudata spores , magnified, 1000X.

 

 

Arcyria denudate spores, magnified 1000x.
Metatrichia vesparium, a slime mold growing on mossy wood.

Myxomycete

Metatrichia vesparium, a slime mold growing on mossy wood.

 

Metatrichia vesparium, a slime mold growing on mossy wood.
Metatrichia vesparium capillitium and spores, magnified 400x.

Myxomycete

Metatrichia vesparium capillitium and spores , magnified, 400X.

 

Metatrichia vesparium capillitium and spores, magnified 400x.
Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).

Basidiomycete

Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).

 

Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).
Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).

Basidiomycete

Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).

 

Armillariella mellea (Honey Mushroom).
Armillariella mellea spores, 1000x.

Basidiomycete

Armillariella mellea spores , magnified, 1000X.

 

Armillariella mellea spores, 1000x.
Fuligo septica, a slime mold on mulch. Note the slime tracks left as it moved along the mulch.

Myxomycete

Fuligo septica, a slime mold on mulch. Note the slime tracks left as it moved along the mulch.

 

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.

Myxomycete

Fuligo septica spores and capillitium, magnified, 1000X.
Fuligo septica spores and capillitium, magnified 1000x.
Phellinus rimosus, a conk.

Basidiomycete

Phellinus rimosus, a conk.

 

Phellinus rimosus, a conk.
Phellinus rimosus, underside.

Basidiomycete

Phellinus rimosus, underside.
Phellinus rimosus, underside.

Unrecognized Aeroallergens?

Unrecognized Aeroallergens?
Michelle B. Lierl, MD, recently investigated whether patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis are sensitized to myxomycete spores. Learn more

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