As a result of an unprecedented
collaboration among a drug company, a university and conservationists,
the Cornell Center for Fungal Biology began work on a biodiversity
project in June of 1998.
An agreement announced on February 27, 1998 by Schering-Plough
Corp., the Cornell Center
for Fungal Biology, the Cornell
Research Foundation, the Cornell
Institute for Research in Chemical Ecology and the
Finger Lakes Land Trust provided researchers access to the
Biodiversity Preserve owned by the land trust in upstate New
York to "bioprospect" for potential medicines from fungi.
It will be the first survey of its kind in a temperate zone habitat.
Mycologists under the direction of Gillian
Turgeon, associate professor of plant pathology and director
of the Cornell Center for Fungal Biology, will collect, photograph,
identify, culture, and catalog specimens.
In addition to collection of macrofungi, various techniques to
isolate fungi from soil, plant material, and water will be used.
DNA will be extracted from specimens collected on the Preserve
and specific gene regions (currently using ITS) in the fungal
genome will be sequenced. This information will be used in molecular
phylogenetic studies and to develop protocols for identification
of fungi based on molecular characters. The cultures will then
be submitted to Schering-Plough Corp. for pharmaceutical screening.
A portion of any money raised from new drugs will be contributed
back to the land trust for conservation efforts.
- (Adapted from a Cornell
News Service press
release by Roger Segelken.)
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