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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

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Forest Disturbance Processes

Tropical Forest Mycology

Research Issue

[photo:] Amatina jacksonianaThe Center for Forest Mycology Research (CFMR, part of the Northern Research Station of the US Forest Service) leads critical research on the biology of tropical fungi native to Hawaii, US territories in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and to other countries in the Caribbean Basin. The primary goals of this research are to: (1) recognize emerging tropical forest diseases, especially those with the potential to spread to the continental US and (2) identify the effects of environmental change on the distributions of beneficial and harmful forest fungi.

[photo:] Amaurodermspecies cause root-rot of trees.Prevention of introduction and establishment is the most effective means to minimize the cost of response and management of forest diseases. Effective prevention requires the identification and classification of tropical fungi that cause disease, many of which have not yet been scientifically described. The subtropical mainland US would likely provide an acceptable habitat for many fungi from the Caribbean Basin. Conversely, tropical islands including those in US territories and Hawaii have a long history of damage from introduced species, such as the Guava Rust fungus. Other emerging diseases introduced to the eastern US, such as the newly described fungal pathogen that causes Laurel Wilt, pose a significant threat to native forests and to the avocado industry throughout the Caribbean Basin. The USDA inspection and quarantine programs rely on research in the Caribbean Basin and other tropical areas to detect potential threats to forest health. Inspectors also depend on new biosystematics research that provides tools developed by CFMR and partners to distinguish foreign pathogenic fungi from the many native and beneficial species.

Our Research

[photo:] Collecting basidiomycete fungi associated with pines in Belize.In addition to current, extensive field work and laboratory analysis, comparison with the culture and specimen collections at the CFMR in Madison, Wisconsin provides a powerful tool to investigate these fungi across scales of geography, history, and human activity.

The great biodiversity of tropical forest fungi presents a potential wealth of undescribed biochemicals. Cultures of tropical fungi developed and maintained in the CFMR culture collection are frequently screened by manufacturing industries for useful enzymes and by pharmaceutical companies seeking new bioactive compounds to develop for new medical treatments. The availability of fungal cultures from tropical countries is often limited by national patrimony laws, but CFMR cultures derived from Hawaii and US territories are available for industrial screening without complex restrictions or agreements.

Research Results

Baroni, T.J.; Bocsusis, N.; Lodge, D.J.; Lindner, D.L. 2008. A new species of Pleurocollybia (Tricholomataceae; Agaricales; Basidiomycetes) from Belize
Mycotaxon 103:353-363.

Baroni, T.J.; Franco-molano, A.; Lodge, D.J.; Lindner, D.L.; Horak, E.; Hofstetter, V. 2007. Arthrornyces and Blastosporella, two new genera of conidia-producing lyophylloid agarics (Agaricales, Basidiornycota) from the neotropics. Mycological Research. III: 572-580.

Castellano, M.A.; Trappe, J.M.; Lodge, D.J. 2007. Mayamontana coccolobae (Basidiomycota), a new sequestrate taxon from Belize. Mycotaxon 100:289-294.

Lodge, D.J.; Læssøe, T.; Aime, M.C.; Henkel, T.W. 2008. Montane and cloud forest specialists among neotropical Xylaria species. North American Fungi 3:193-213.

Lodge, D.J.; Ovrebo, C.L. 2008. First records of Hygrophoraceae from Panama including a new species of Camarophyllus and a new veiled species in Hygrocybe section Firmae. Fungal Diversity 32:69-80.

Lodge, D.J.; McDowell, W.H.; Macy, J.; Ward, S.K.; Leisso, R.; Claudio-Campos, K; Kuhnert, K. 2007. Distribution and role of mat-forming saprobic basidiomycetes in a tropical forest. In: Boddy, Lynne; Frankland, Juliet; Van West, Peiter, eds. Ecology of saprotrophic basidiomycetes. The British Mycological Society. Academic Press:  pp 197-209.

Nakasone, K.K. 2004. Morphological studies in Veluticeps, Pileodon, and related taxa. Sydowia 56:38-60.

Nakasone, K.K. 2005. Leptocorticium (Corticiaceae s.l., Basidiomycota): new species and combinations. Mycological Progress 4:251-256.

Nakasone, K.K. 2006. Dendrothele griseocana (Corticiaceae) and related taxa with hyphal pegs. Nova Hedwigia 83:99-108.

Ortiz-Santana, B.; Lodge, D.J.; Baroni, T.J.; Both, E.E. 2007. Boletes from Belize and the Dominican Republic. Fungal Diversity. 27:247-416.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

  • D. Jean Lodge, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station Botanist
  • Karen Nakasone, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station Scientist, Botanist
  • Daniel Lindner, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station Scientist, Botanist
  • Michael Castellano, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station Scientist, Research Forester
  • Beatriz Ortiz-Santana, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station Scientist, Botanist

Research Partners

  • Timothy J. Baroni, Dept. Biological Sciences, State University of New York, College at Cortland
  • Sharon A. Cantrell, Departamento de Biología, Escuela de Ciencias y Tecnología, Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico
  • Karen Hughes, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
  • P. Brandon Matheny, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
  • David W. Minter, Mycologist, CABI, Egham, Surrey
  • William H. McDowell, Professor of Water Resources Management, Department of Natural Resources, Director, NH Water Resources Research Center, 219 James Hall, 56 College Rd., University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824 USA: 
  • Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research
  • USDA-Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Last Modified: 07/24/2009