The RBGE was donated a large and important collection of specimens of Glomeromycota (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) by Dr. Chris Walker. The collection mainly consists of nearly 16,000 scientifically valuable, well-preserved and catalogued microscope slides with specimens in polyvinyl-alcohol (polymerised) mounting medium.

Since we acquired the collection in 2013 we have worked to integrate this collection into the RBGE herbarium. The work was funded by several successful small projects funded by the Sibbald Trust ( The microscope slides needed to be rehoused in to more suitable metal slide cabinets, as the collection was received in boxes. As part of this process the decision was made to allocate a barcode to each specimen and to link these to the Access database that was provided with the collection. This work is now completed with just under 16,000 slides being rehoused and barcoded. The database is not yet integrated with the RBGE collection management system and work will take place in the future to migrate the data.

Rehoused and barcoded microscope slides

This significant research collection is now more easily searched and accessed by scientists studying these fungi, important for their close associations with plants and for their role in the first colonisation of plants onto land.

These slides are also the first of RBGE’s large slide collection to be databased with a barcode. The guidelines and barcode label formats suitable for microscope slides which had to be developed are now in place for the digitisation of future microscope slide collections in the future.