Data from: Give me a sample of air and I will tell which species are found from your region – molecular identification of fungi from airborne spore samples
Abrego, Nerea et al. (2018), Data from: Give me a sample of air and I will tell which species are found from your region – molecular identification of fungi from airborne spore samples, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9121q
Fungi are a megadiverse group of organisms, they play major roles in ecosystem functioning, and are important for human health, food production, and nature conservation. Our knowledge on fungal diversity and fungal ecology is however still very limited, in part because surveying and identifying fungi is time demanding and requires expert knowledge. We present a method that allows anyone to generate a list of fungal species likely to occur in a region of interest, with minimal effort and without requiring taxonomical expertise. The method consists of using a cyclone sampler to acquire fungal spores directly from the air to an Eppendorf tube, and applying DNA barcoding with probabilistic species identification to generate a list of species from the sample. We tested the feasibility of the method by acquiring replicate air samples from different geographical regions within Finland. Our results show that air sampling is adequate for regional-level surveys, with samples collected >100 km apart varying but samples collected <10 km apart not varying in their species composition. The data show marked phenology, and thus that obtaining a representative species list requires aerial sampling that covers the entire fruiting season. In sum, aerial sampling combined with probabilistic molecular species identification offers a highly effective method for generating a species list of airborne dispersed fungi. The method presented here has the potential to revolutionize fungal surveys, as it provides a highly cost-efficient way to include fungi as a part of large-scale biodiversity assessments and monitoring programs.