Collection, preservation and curated submissions of voucher specimens in a herbarium are important desideratum for biodiversity conservation (Constantinescu, 1972, 1978; Kirk et al., 2001; Tănase, 2002; Şesan and Tănase, 2004). They provide centralized, permanent, and safe storage for reference collections that are invaluable for supporting published data, a checklist, or the species occurrence as a whole and also assist researchers undertaking revisionary and monographic studies (Hawksworth, 1974; Van Norman et al., 2008).
Preparing fleshy fungi for the mycological herbarium constitutes an indispensable part of the routine involved in maintaining a permanent collection. Currently three types of preservation techniques are being employed for preservation of macromycetes, i.e, Normal drying/ heat drying (De Kesel, 2001; Das and Sharma, 2005; Buyck et al., 2010), Liquid preservation (Bills and Foster, 2004) and Freeze drying (Davies, 1962; Hintikka, 1969; De Kesel, 2001; Buyck et al., 2010).
The procedure of normal drying/ heat drying are to keep the freshly collected specimens under sunlight/ near artificial fireplace (Das and Sharma, 2005), and in a dessicator (40-50°C) (De Kesel, 2001; Buyck et al., 2010). These methods are known to maintain microscopic structures very well (Kendrick, 1969), yet, a dessicator/ drier may be too bulky for the field and also the macromycetes inventories are primarily undertaken during rains, therefore expecting a clear sunny day for drying specimens might not be a good idea either.
Specimens may be preserved in liquid such as alcohol, formalin, F.A.A., lactic acid and Kew mixture, however, these methods are accompanied by specimen’s loss of colour, inaccessibility, extreme fragility and bulkiness (Savile, 1962; Kendrick, 1969), furthermore, necessary macro / microchemical tests and molecular analysis could not be carried out with such specimens. Freezing of the specimens has been useful in preserving form and colour of the specimens; but, freeze dried specimens tend to be more fragile than air or heat dried specimens, and are more prone to reabsorb moisture, leading to rapid disintegration of fleshy specimens (Kendrick, 1969; Theirs et al. 2013).
Although, Kendrick (1969) suggests shrinkage, distortion, accompanied by splitting or cracking and drastic colour change by normal drying/ heat drying method, yet considering feasibility of long term preservation of macromycetes, it is the best among these methods. Microscopic workout of specimens dried with this technique is hassle free, as fine sections could be achieved even with free hand, compared to specimens preserved with other methods. These sections when placed in KOH (3-5%) are able to fully rehydrate, providing detailed microscopic information. Furthermore, it is possible to extract DNA from such specimens, which may be used for their molecular identification.
The specimens thus processed have traditionally been deposited in fungarium within paper packets (Hawksworth, 1974; Das and Sharma, 2005). However, this method of fungarium deposition has met with disintegration of macromycetes due to easy moisture retention and insect/ mite infestation. Furthermore, their condition inside the packet could not be easily monitored due to opaqueness of paper.
The method of preservation discussed in current proposition intends for a low cost long term preservation of macromycetes processed mainly through normal/ heat drying for deposition in fungarium.