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Winter 1997

Research Magazine > ARCHIVE > Spring 96 > Article

by Catherine Gianaro

Fungi hold a special place in our history, if not in our hearts -- as epicurean delights, the foundation for wonder drugs or the cause of the early 19th century potato famine.

But whether they appear as truffles, ringworm or penicillin, they share one thing in common: They are ubiquitous, and identifying them from more than 100,000 species requires a vast collection.

"Our herbarium is like a library, a reference resource, but instead of books, we have a collection of fungi," said Richard Hanlin (right), curator of the University of Georgia's Julian H. Miller Mycology Herbarium, which holds 25,000 specimens.

The collection is used as a teaching and research tool, as well as a resource for fungi-related problems, such as helping doctors identify the kind of mushroom eaten by a child. Even though it focuses on the identification of organisms from the Southeastern United States, the collection regularly receives requests from as far away as Europe and South America.


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