The specimens in the U.S. National Fungus Collections (BPI) are available for scientific observation by all qualified visitors. Requests to borrow specimens will be considered from recognized institutions and scientists. Please note that BPI is a collection of dried herbarium specimens, not living cultures.
Requests for loans may be made only by official staff members of an institution, not by students or non-staff scientists. The head of the borrowing institution or department assumes responsibility for the safe custody and return of the specimens.
Loan requests may be submitted by mail or email (HerbariumBPI@ars.usda.gov) or created online using the searchable specimen database (by checking "Build a loan request") and should include the following information:
- the name and status of the researcher
- the nature and scope of the study
- the names, host names, and BPI numbers (available from our searchable specimen database) of the specimens requested. If the BPI number of a requested specimen is unknown, the request will be greatly facilitated by supplying synonyms, bibliographic information, and any known collection data.
Address all loan correspondence to:
U.S. National Fungus Collections
Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
Rm. 229, Bldg. 010A
10300 Baltimore Ave.
Beltsville, MD 20705 USA
Loans are limited to 50 specimens, which may include up to 30 type specimens. Please note that, because some specimens are attached to sheets with several other specimens, your request for 50 particular specimens might in practice add up to several hundred specimens. In these cases we will ask you to amend or prioritize your request so that we can send the specimens in batches of 50, sending each new batch upon return of the last batch.
Loans are made for six months unless otherwise stipulated. If further time is required, an extension of the loan period may be requested from the Herbarium Manager via mail or e-mail. It is requested, however, that loans be returned at the earliest opportunity. Whenever possible, all specimens in a loan should be returned at the same time.
Loans may not be removed from the borrowing institution, and they may not be transferred from one institution to another without prior written permission of all parties concerned.
BPI reserves the right to request the return of its loan material at any time.
Handling of Specimens
Treatment: Specimens may not be treated with chemicals, heat or irradiation.
Storage: Specimens must be stored in insect-proof herbarium cabinets. Please do not store specimens with naphthalene (moth balls).
Dissection: Judicious dissection of specimens is normally permitted. Return all material, including sections and slides prepared during examination.
DNA Extraction Policy: The U.S. National Fungus Collections are maintained with the goal of balancing preservation of herbarium specimens with utilization for scientific research. While every effort will be made to accommodate researchers, decisions concerning destructive sampling of collections are made on a case-by-case basis. We will consider requests to use our material for DNA analysis as long as sufficient material exists to support such work. If authorization is granted, the following guidelines should be followed:
- Annotate specimens used for these studies.
- Report both positive and negative results in writing to the Director. Include GenBank database accession numbers in the report so that these numbers may be included in the BPI specimen database.
- Return excess DNA to BPI.
Annotations: Specimens should be annotated in the following manner:
- Make annotations on slips of paper, never on labels, containers, or herbarium sheets. Attach annotation slips to specimen packets with a paper clip (preferred), or insert inside the specimen packets or boxes. Do not glue them in place.
- Annotation labels should be typed, printed, or legibly written in archival quality ink or pencil on new, archival quality paper slips. Archival quality paper will be supplied upon request.
- Include the BPI number, annotator's name (not initials only), and the date. Whenever possible, include the generic name, specific epithet and authority. In addition, type specimens should be annotated with the kind of type (holotype, isotype, lectotype, etc.).
Return of Specimens: Material should be returned via first-class domestic mail or international airmail or, preferably, by trackable means (such as Federal Express) if possible, and packed well to ensure safe transit. Please note the method of packing employed when the specimens arrive and pack in a similar manner when returning the loan. Include the white copy of the loan form with the returned loan.
Because returned loans are not opened immediately upon receipt, please do not include specimens to be deposited or correspondence (other than a copy of the loan invoice) in the box with a returned loan.
Please DO NOT send specimens with naphthalene (moth balls).
Use the standard internationally recognized acronym "BPI" when citing specimens of the U.S. National Fungus Collections. To identify a specimen, cite the BPI number printed below the bar code on the specimen packet or box. Reprints of publications resulting from studies based on BPI specimens should be sent to the Herbarium Manager.