Environmental Fungi, Collection and Culture - (Apr/13/2014 )
Please forgive my ignorance on this subject, I am a farmer,
I wish to gather environmental fungi species in order to culture and introduce into plant systems to activate the natural defense mechanism of trees.
Some examples: Diplodia sp. Phytium sp, Fusarium sp, Aspergillus sp, Lasiodiplodi sp,Libertela sp, Trichoderma sp, Seytalidium sp and Thielaviopsis sp.
Given my 'backyard' situation, is there a simple method of collection and propagation I can use for my experiment.
As identification of particular types of fungi can be difficult with the naked eye, especially in culture if you are not used to it, your best bet would be to collect samples of the above from farmers who have a current infection in their crops. Isolation from soil is time consuming and quite difficult if you don't have any microbiological background
Culturing usually requires some special equipment, but can be done fairly simply using sterile techniques similar to those used for tree propagation, where the fungi are grown on solid media (usually an agar based medium - this is similar to jelly in texture but referred to as "solid" as opposed to liquid). As a minimum you would need a burner of some sort (camp stove, meths burner, bunsen burner), some Petri dishes or similar covered plates, a few bottles with screw lids, various compounds to make the media (may vary depending on which species you are growing), and a method of sterilizing all the equipment and media (a pressure cooker will work). Things that would be very useful and perhaps essential would include a microscope with slides, spray bottles with alcohol (ethanol) or methanol (wood alcohol), disposable gloves, face mask (some fungi are pathogenic and can cause serious life-threatening illnesses if inhaled) and a method for cleaning up after yourself (spray with sterilizing fluid such as trigene or chlorhexidine)
The basic technique involves taking a sample, and placing it onto a plate and then spreading it out (growing it) then identifying single colonies (to ensure that you have a pure strain). You would then take a single colony and place it onto a fresh plate and grow it up from there. This may require several repeats to get pure isolates.
Lastly - I can't stress this enough - this could be very dangerous to you and your family if you don't do it right, fungal spores spread easily and can cause very very serious illnesses.