Canadian National Mycological Herbarium (DAOM)

The mycological collection holds over 350,000 fungal and fungal plant disease specimens which make it the largest fungarium of non lichenized fungi in Canada. The specimens are used as vouchers for scientific research, scientific names and living fungal cultures maintained in the Canadian Collection of Fungal Cultures (CCFC). Herbarium specimens document the existence of indigenous and invasive species (agents of disease: pathogens, toxigenic species, symbionts, saprophytes and other biodiversity components) in all Canadian provinces and territories, on different types of hosts, at different stages of their life cycles, and during different times of the year. The fungarium also holds many representatives of foreign disease-causing fungi which can be used for comparative purposes. Lichenized fungi (that is to say, those forming lichens) are generally excluded and by written agreement are housed in the lichen section (CANL) of the National Herbarium of Canada (CAN) at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

What is an herbarium?

Herbaria are collections of named and preserved, usually dried, scientific specimens of either plants or fungi. Mycological herbaria are more precisely called fungaria. Internationally, all known former and existing herbaria (and fungaria) have been assigned official acronyms by Index Herbariorum for reference purposes.

What does “DAOM” stand for?

The acronym for the Canadian National Mycological Herbarium is DAOM. This is an historic abbreviation of the “Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, Mycology” which differentiates the mycological collection from our sister collection of vascular plants “The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada National Collection of Vascular Plants” known by its shorter acronym, DAO.

Mycology Herbarium usage

  • The herbarium is a physical and historical archive of species existence and distribution. The electronic inventorying of all records will contribute to Canadian Biodiversity initiatives and international databases. New molecular technologies can be applied to old specimens to elucidate and verify species concepts. The herbarium maintains hundreds of type specimens which are the internationally recognized standards used to define a species.
  • To conduct loans and exchanges of specimens nationally and internationally. Its acronym DAOM is cited in hundreds of scientific papers and is attached to registered gene sequences derived from them throughout the world in acknowledgement of specimens needed and used to describe and identify species.
  • The National Mycological Herbarium serves as the main central reference collection for exotic and native fungal plant diseases. It is regularly consulted or used as a repository for collections by staff in the nearby Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). DAOM along with the Canadian Collection of Fungal Cultures (CCFC) and the Glomeromycota in vivo and in vitro collections serve as a backbone for research on fungal diversity in Canada and for systematics research in mycology. Direct responsibility for plant inspection at ports of entry and research on control of specific plant pathogens belong to the CFIA.

How to reach collection staff

For more information contact:

Dr. Scott Redhead (Curator)
scott.redhead@agr.gc.ca
K.W. Neatby Building
Floor 1, Room 1059
960 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6
Telephone: (613) 759-1384

Or

Jennifer Wilkinson (Assistant Curator)
jennifer.wilkinson@agr.gc.ca
Building 49, CEF
Floor 3, Room 306
960 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C6
Telephone: (613) 759-6521

Contributors to the collection

An herbarium preserves materials. The sources of its collections, whose collections are included, and whose classifications are adopted are an important component.

The current holdings of over 350,000 specimens includes thousands of type specimens and the major collections of former and current staff:

  • R. H. Arnold
  • D. J. S. Barr
  • J. Bissett
  • I. L. Conners
  • M. Corlett
  • Y. Dalpé
  • M. E. Elliott
  • J. H. Ginns
  • J. W. Groves
  • H. T. Güssow
  • S. Hambleton
  • S. J. Hughes
  • C. A. Lévesque
  • R. Macrae
  • A. W. McCallam
  • I. Mounce
  • G. Neish
  • M. Nobles
  • J. A. Parmelee
  • K. A. Pirozynski
  • S. A. Redhead
  • D. B. O. Savile
  • K. A. Seifert
  • R. A. Shoemaker
  • L. K. Weresub
  • W. B. Kendrick (subsets of collections)
  • D. W. Malloch (subsets of collections)

Through gifts or purchases DAOM has acquired major collections of:

  • M. E. Barr (recent Canadian collections from British Columbia)
  • G. R. Bisby (Fungi of Manitoba [and adjacent western Ontario] vouchers)
  • H. J. Brodie (personal herbarium including Nidulariaceae types)
  • A. H. R. Buller (Fungi of Manitoba [and adjacent western Ontario] vouchers)
  • R. F. Cain (duplicates of personal collection)
  • G. D. Darker (personal collections including types)
  • W. L. Gordon
  • K. A. Harrison (former AAFC Kentville herbarium including types of Hydnaceae)
  • W. Jones
  • M. Larsen
  • A. Melderis (Swedish fungi)
  • R. C. Russell (Fungi of Saskatchewan)
  • W.D. Sutton (Canadian fungi)
  • L. E. Wehmeyer (personal herbarium including types)

DAOM is also responsible for curating the John Dearness herbarium which contains: hundreds of type specimens of plant pathogens; fungi from the 1913-1918 Canadian Arctic expedition; J. Macoun fungi; W.S. Odell mushrooms.

DAOM curators and years in office

  • Hans T. Güssow (1909-1929)
  • Ibra L. Conners (1929-1954)
  • Douglas [Doug] B. O. Savile (1954-1967)
  • John [Jack] A. Parmelee (1967-1975), (1977-1987)
  • Mary E. Elliott (1975-1976)
  • Luella K. Weresub (1976-1977)
  • James [Jim] H. Ginns (1987-1997)
  • Scott A. Redhead (1997-present)

History of the collection

Fungal specimens in DAOM, which are primarily phytopathogens, were first collected by James Fletcher (Dominion Botanist and Entomologist from 1887-1908) and primarily sent abroad to specialists. A few were returned to the herbarium in later years via collection acquisitions or secondary sampling of incidentally collected phytopathogens on his plant specimens in DAO.

The National Mycological Herbarium (DAOM) itself was started by Dr. Hans T. Güssow, the first Dominion Botanist between 1909 and 1920, as a small reference collection for the identification of plant pathogenic fungi being encountered on imports or crops in Canada. Güssow was the first to recognize the existence in North America of potato wart caused by a fungus, Synchytrium endobioticum, from Newfoundland in 1909 which was then a separate British dominion and not part of the Dominion of Canada. As a result he helped draft the Destructive Insect and Pest Act in 1910, a model for the protection of Canada’s natural and agricultural resources.

Güssow recognized the difficulties in identifying fungi without reference materials so by 1920 he solicited assistance from the renowned American mycologist, J.B. Ellis, who donated considerable numbers of duplicates of folicolous (leaf disease) specimens. He also purchased for Canada from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), via C.L. Shears, several reference sets of foreign exsiccataeFootnote 1. Another initiative was specimen exchange, which started with the USDA at about that time.

In 1920, responsibility for research on forest pathology and plant pathology resided within one federal department. As a result representative collections of the causal agents of tree diseases and decay fungi were acquired, making DAOM one of North America’s centres of expertise on both agricultural and forest fungi.

In 1929, Ibra L. Conners was transferred from Winnipeg to become both the curator of the National Mycological Herbarium and the official compiler of the Canadian Plant Disease Survey (CPDS). Mr. Conners visited several major herbaria in the US and organised DAOM in an efficient system as a result. He amalgamated the initially separated forestry and plant pathology collections. As editor and compiler of the CPDS, Conners established a practice of not accepting disease reports from beyond known geographic ranges or on unrecorded hosts in the absence of supporting specimens. This high standard established the credibility of the Department of Agriculture’s research on new plant pathogens. The significance of the National Mycological Herbarium and the reliability of the Canadian Plant Disease Survey increased lockstep.

From the 1930s to the present time, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and its predecessors have maintained in Ottawa a specialized mycological group for the identification and compilation of taxonomic information on fungi and fungal pathogens. The research staff added reliably identified specimens, collected samples across Canada and at ports of entry, and isolated fungi from all manner of products and produce. The exchange program brought in invaluable representative samples from countries primarily involved with trade.

Did you know there was a mushroom connected to the Group of Seven Canadian artists?

A. Y. Jackson was a founding member of the famed Canadian Group of Seven artists. His elder brother, H. A. C. Jackson was a commercial artist who chose fungal paintings as a hobby. Via this interest H. A. C. Jackson met the distinguish Quebec mycologist, Dr. René Pomerleau (a forest pathologists in Laval) and the chief mycologist in Ottawa, Dr. J. Walton Groves. Both Pomerleau and Groves used H. A. C. Jackson’s spectacular water colour painting of Amanita caesarea on their books on mushrooms, as did the National Gallery of Canada in their book, Mr. Jackson’s Mushrooms.

After Walt Groves’ first wife died, he married H. A. C. Jackson’s daughter, Dr. Naomi Jackson, herself an accomplished artist. René Pomerleau eventually realized that the North American A. caesarea illustrated by H. A. C. J. was a distinct North American species, and named it in honour of the artist and amateur mycologist as Amanita jacksonii.

Original water colour paintings of fungi by H. A. C. Jackson in part are owned by the National Gallery of Canada and a different set is owned by the National Mycological Herbarium (DAOM). Reproductions extracted from both sets can be found in the book, Mr. Jackson’s Mushrooms.

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