Arthur Fungarium Statistics
Over 110,000 specimens reside in the Arthur Fungarium, with most accessioned and ca. 97,000 cataloged. Statistical data provided herein is based only on cataloged specimens. There are over 5,000 rust species, of which 70% are represented by more than one specimen, 30% by more than 10, and 5% by more than 100. The collection has representative specimens for all 14 rust fungi families (sensu Cummins and Hiratsuka 2003) and for 132 genera (of an estimated 168 total). The genus Puccinia is the most extensively represented, with 1480 Puccinia species. This is to be expected, as more than half of the known rust fungi species belong to this genus (Cummins and Hiratsuka 2003), which contains some of the world’s most devastating cereal pathogens, e.g., P. recondita, P. graminis and P. coronata. The number of specimens in each family, along with the genera and species with the greatest representation, are provided in Table 1.
There are close to 4,000 specimens with type status in the cataloged Arthur Fungarium collection. As part of the Global Plants Initiative, we are currently verifying the data and status for these and imaging the entire type collection. In 2013, a large loan of ca. 20,000 specimens,with an estimated 500–880 types, was returned to the Arthur Fungarium and will add representatives of nearly every rust genus, including those containing a single species, known as a monotypic genus.
The Arthur Fungarium serves as a source of information about the temporal and spatial distribution of not only Pucciniales species but also their host plants. Specimens in the Arthur Fungarium have been collected from 187 countries, with the majority from North America and roughly half (ca. 53,000 specimens) from the USA. This preponderance of North American data creates an informative timeline of the rust fungi and their host plants on this continent from the early 1800s to present. Over 12,000 specimen were collected in the 1800s, with roughly 63% of the cataloged collections predating 1929.
The eight countries with the largest representation of species in the cataloged collection are listed in Table 2. One specimen dates back to 1769 and was collected by Sir Joseph Banks in Tierra del Fuego, South America, during Captain James Cook's first voyage around the world (McCain and Hennen 1993).
Further, recent studies have found a tertiary level of specimen data associated with Pucciniales collections by examining the distribution and specificity of fly larvae (Mycodiplosis spp.). These insects are rust fungivores with potential as biological control agents and are often accidentally preserved in herbarium collections along with their hosts (Henk et al. 2011; Nelsen 2012).
Cummins GB, Hiratsuka Y. 2003. Genera of Rust Fungi. APS Press, St. Paul, Minnesota. 225 pp.
Henk DA, Farr DF, Aime MC. 2011. Mycodiplosis infestation of rust fungi is frequent, wide spread and possibly host specific. Fungal Ecology 4:284–289. Link here.
Nelsen DJ. 2013. A phylogenetic analysis of species diversity, specificity, and distribution of Mycodiplosis on rust fungi. M.S. Thesis: Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. 158 pp. Link here.