Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Karen K. Nakasone; Stephen W. Peterson; Shung-Chang Jong
    Date: 2004
    Source: Biodiversity of fungi : inventory and monitoring methods. Amsterdam : Elsevier Academic Press, 2004: Pages 37-47.
    Publication Series: Other
    Station: Forest Products Laboratory
    PDF: Download Publication  (95.82 KB)


    Maintaining and preserving fungal cultures are essential elements of systematics and biodiversity studies. Because fungi are such a diverse group, several methods of cultivation and preservation are required to ensure the viability and morphological, physiological, and genetic integrity of the cultures over time. The cost and convenience of each method, however, also must be considered. We encourage the reader to investigate the excellent papers on fungal preservation by Fennell 1960), Smith and Onions (1994), Smith (1991), and Simione and Brown (1991). The primary methods of culture preservation are continuous growth, drying, and freezing. Continuous growth methods, in which cultures are grown on agar, typically are used for short-term storage. Such cultures are stored at temperatures of from 5°-20°C, or they may be frozen to increase the interval between subcultures. The methods are simple and inexpensive because specialized equipment is not required. Drying is the most useful method of preservation for cultures that produce spores or other resting structures. Silica gel, glass beads, and soil are substrata commonly used in drying. Fungi have been stored successfully on silica gel for up to 11 years (Smith and Onions 1983). Drying methods are technically simple and also do not require expensive equipment. Freezing methods, including cryopreservation, are versatile and widely applicable. Most fungi can be preserved, with or without cryoprotectants, in liquid nitrogen or in standard home freezers. With freeze drying, or lyophilization, the fungal cultures are frozen and subsequently dried under vacuum. The method is highly successful with cultures that produce mitospores. Freeze-drying and freezing below -1 35°C are excellent methods for permanent preservation, and we highly recommend them. However, both methods require specialized and expensive equipment, as described in the next section (see "Liquid Nitrogen" and "Lyophilization" under "Long-term Preservation," later in this chapter). The choice of preservation method depends on the species of concern, the resources available, and the goal of the project. Some low- cost methods of preservation, such as storage in distilled water and the silica gel method, are good, but none is considered permanent. The maximum duration of storage varies with each method and with the species being preserved, but it generally is 10 years or less. Whenever possible, fungal strains should be preserved with one of the permanent methods (lyophilization, cryopreservation) described later in this chapter see "Long-term Preservation"). Permanent preservation is essential for strains with critically important characteristics and for type specimens. Cultures that are permanently preserved in metabolically inactive states now can serve as type specimens, according to Article 8.4 of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Greuter et al. 2000).

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Nakasone, Karen K.; Peterson, Stephen W.; Jong, Shung-Chang. 2004. Preservation and distribution of fungal cultures. Biodiversity of fungi : inventory and monitoring methods. Amsterdam : Elsevier Academic Press, 2004: Pages 37-47.


    Fungi, fungal cultures, fungi distribution, fungi preservation

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page