An award is made to West Virginia University to support the only large living collection of a group of fungi (Glomeromycota) that form a mutually beneficial symbiosis with more than 80% of all plant species. This collection, called INVAM, has grown to almost 1300 strains from 49 countries and most habitats worldwide. These fungi are unique because they partnered with plants when they emerged onto land 400 million years ago and have coevolved exclusively with them. The collection provides valuable fungal strains to understand the basic biology and ecology of such a long-term relationship and the many ways in which this relationship can benefit different types of plants. With this knowledge, fungal strains can be obtained and exploited to manage or promote these benefits and to improve or restore communities, especially those damaged by disturbance or environmental pollutants.
In addition to the preservation and maintenance of these fungal stocks, INVAM is tasked with making them available to the general public, researchers, teachers, and students, and offering services and information to these client groups that will promote scientific advancement, educational experiences, practical application and commercialization. A website at http://invam.wvu.edu provides extensive information on available stocks, taxonomy of the fungi, and methods for their culture and use.