|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 496 September 2, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Russula Pers. (Russulaceae) is a cosmopolitan, ectomycorrhizal genus of fungi that are notoriously difficult to identify to species. No comprehensive monograph is available for the ca. 420 recognized Russula species in North America. A large number of North American species remain undescribed. However, thanks to Ben Woo, an expert amateur who died on February 8, 2008. For more about Ben Woo see: http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/ben393.html#1
The Burke Museum has over 1000 carefully sampled and preserved Russula specimens from the Pacific Northwest, each with a detailed sheet of morphological notes. With grant support from the Stuntz Foundation, we are using Woo's exceptional collection of Russula diversity to improve understanding of the genetic and morphological variation within species. We successfully sequenced the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region two of 713 of the ~1000 collections.
The resulting phylogeny shows 78 putative lineages of Russula of the Pacific Northwest, which we interpret as species. Of these, 19 share identical sequences with European species. We sequenced type specimens to confirm that 10 represent species described from the Pacific Northwest. Another 49 are candidate undescribed species, new to science. We entered Woo's detailed notes on morphology of each collection into database fields and then analyzed the phylogenetic distribution of characters. Some morphological characters including cap and spore color and chemical reactions showed little correlation with the phylogeny, while gill color, taste and odor correlated more strongly with clades. Although species delimitation using barcode sequences has shortcomings, it provides a starting point for a more comprehensive view of species delimitation in challenging groups of fungi. The sequences we will submit to GenBank will serve as an invitation to the international mycological community to further study these specimens. This will catalyze the development of keys and descriptions of the new species, leading to greatly improved understanding of Russula species diversity. If species of Russula can be identified, then it will become more attractive to include them in ecological studies and feasible to test their correlation with important ecosystem functions.
As a PhD student in mycology at the Department of Botany at UBC, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to expand my knowledge of fungal diversity. On hearing about graduate research assistantship opportunities at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, I proposed to UBC Beaty Herbarium Director Whitton that I would curate fungal specimens left in the UBC herbarium by the late Professor Robert Joseph 'Bob' Bandoni. See: http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/ben409.html#1
I was awarded the assistantship, and launched into a project that gave me the opportunity to spend 192 hours immersed in Dr. Bandoni's un-accessioned collections, doing my utmost to curate his specimens, drawings and notes to make them widely accessible to the scientific community. In the process, I increased my understanding of the jelly fungi, Dr. Bandoni's group of interest, and developed a deeper appreciation for how this world-renowned UBC specialist conducted his studies.
After he passed away, Bob left the UBC herbarium his working collection of un-accessioned specimens, collections borrowed from other researchers for study or determination, drawings and notes, and fragments of type specimens from studies of material from other herbaria. In an initial inventory of this material, I found that it comprises a daunting 75 boxes of various sizes, filling two UBC herbarium cabinets. I estimated that the boxes contain close to 3500 specimens. As I scraped through what had been the 'works in progress' of his extensive collecting-exchange efforts, I was amazed to learn how he organized his data and I was struck by the diversity of genera and species I had never heard about (ex: Tetragoniomyces, Sirobasidium, Efibulobasidium, Craterocolla, Xenolachne). Much of Dr. Bandoni's material is taxonomically valuable and significant systematically; it represents an exceptional window into the diversity of a challenging group of fungi.
Type specimens - In the time I had available through my assistantship, I chose to focus on the 'type specimens' and their associated notes. The type specimen is important because it is THE example to show exactly to what kind of fungus the name refers. A researcher, in naming a new species, must, according to the Botanical Code of Nomenclature, designate a 'type specimen' that is kept in a herbarium.
Herbaria including UBC, loan specimens, including types, to researchers around the world, with the understanding that the researcher who borrows them will return them, along with expert comments and annotations that increase their scientific value. During his active career, Dr. Bandoni had fulfilled his part of this bargain. Now that he has passed away, I am helping UBC to complete its scientific handshake with herbaria and collaborators.
I located and set aside all the packages referring to type material. Sometimes, the 'material' consisted of notes or drawings, sometimes it consisted of slides or fragments of specimens, and sometimes both. Because scanning and accessioning Dr. Bandoni's notes and drawings would effectively make his insights into the systematics and morphology of these specimens widely available to the research community, I data based the 59 records for the type material. The images and notes that I accessioned into UBC herbarium database are now publicly available. Some notes specified that certain type collections were too poor to be sampled. I did not database notes or fragments representing 10 additional specimens for which available information was too incomplete or fragmentary.
The data accessed, I hope, will improve the awareness and promote the use of the collection by present and future generations of experts in this group of fungi. Finally, towards my own PhD research with a challenging group of fungi, this experience is helping me organize my own collecting data coherently.
This indirect contact with Dr. Bandoni broadened my appreciation of non-mushroom forming Basidiomycetes, and through his notes on specimens, I learned a lot about the challenges surrounding mycological taxonomy. In the course of this project, I had the pleasure of learning from a very talented mycologist I never met.
See more at: http://beatymuseum.ubc.ca/revealing-bandoni-fungi#sthash.NqBg4o79.pdf
There are also e-versions: e.g. (The Corrie Herring Hooks Series) Kindle Edition
This is a handsomely illustrated book with a beautiful cover photograph of Sclerotinia sulcata apothecia emerging from water. The book is dedicated to the late Kit Scates Barnhart, who was a well-known western North American amateur mycologist, and it is tailored for use by amateurs with limited access to scientific literature and microscopes. Each individually treated species is provided with both its Latin name and a common name, along with 1/3 page-sized high quality photograph, macroscopic and microscopic descriptions and a Comments paragraph wherein other species are compared. The introductory chapter outlines the definition of an Ascomycete and general aspects of Ascomycota fruitbodies and their microscopic features. It is the only chapter with photographs of microscopic features and it explains that most Ascomycota are known as asexual fungi but the emphasis of the book is on those species with recognizable macroscopic fruitbodies. Although focused on Ascomycota, it may have been helpful to depict several types of basidia so that the contrast between the spore bearing cells of the two phyla, Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, could be readily compared. Terms are largely defined in the chapter but the term cleistothecia used in the book for sexual form of the powdery mildews has been replaced by the term chasmothecia (circa 2002) in recent literature and differentiated from true cleistothecia as in the Eurotiomycetes (Chapter 7). I was puzzled by the assignment of 6 genera of hypogeous truffle-like fungi to the archaic familial term "Pyrenomycetaceae" (p. 71, Chapter 3) but realized that 1) they intended "Pyronemataceae"; and that 2) nowhere in the book is there an overarching classification except in the list on content and snippets beginning each chapter. I was unable to find an explanation of the breakdown of the various chapters under class, family or subphylum level names (e.g. Leotiomycetes, Sordariomycetes, Geoglossaceae, etc.). These are minor oversights and inconveniences. The true strengths of the book are the photographs and use of the photos in picture keys.
The Picture keys start by separating the hypogeous genera and species from those with exposed, epigeous fruitbodies. Key couplets and occasional triplets are interspersed with thumbnail photos of representative taxa.
Notably the authors mostly use different photographs from those for the more fully described taxa, hence offering additional images, and they supply photos of species mentioned in the Comments paragraphs that are not fully described but were compared to the main species illustrated. Going from the key to the keyed taxon page is straight forward because of the listed page number but finding illustrations back in the key from a species page is awkward because no page numbers or key couplet numbers are listed under the main species description pages. For example Geoglossum difforme is the main species on page 420 but photographs of G. peckianum and G. glutinosum and a second photo of G. difforme are on pages 40-41 which is only known if one flips randomly back to the key or consults the index (an extra step). The keys are also provided with helpful geographic abbreviations to assist in key decisions, e.g. A = widespread, C = coastal, WC = west coast, etc. Some choices are less than clear, such as (p. 18) 5a. Peridium thin versus 5b. Peridium thick, interior marbled versus 5c Peridium thick, interior marble, yet the photographs of Pachyphloeus carneus (thick) versus Imaia gigantea (thin) show nearly identical thickness, and Elaphomyces cf. anthracinus (not marbled) versus P. carneus (marbled) show confusingly similar marbling to the uncritical eye. Care and attention are still needed.
The array of species is impressive and richer than most guides for the Ascomycota which is the primary purpose of the book. For the availability of the photographs alone the book is well worth acquiring. Four species of Sarcoscypha are fully illustrated and described as are three species of Daldinia. There is a rich selection of truffles and truffle-like fungi, morels, Cordyceps and Elaphocordyceps, and Hypomyces on mushrooms and other macrofungi (full descriptions of H. aurantius, H. cervinigenus, H. chlorinigenus, H. chrysospermus, H. hyalinus, H. lactifluorum, H. lateritius, H. luteovirens, H. ochraceus, H. porphyreus, and H. tremellicola with more illustrated species in the key). The book serves to whet the appetite for more inclusive studies because it captures the most commonly encountered taxa and will reveals where to search the literature when one stumbles across an even odder find. Like all guides this decade, the authors tried to keep up-to-date on the current taxonomy and nomenclature, but the field is changing so rapidly that it truly is hard to keep up. With the abandonment of dual nomenclature for anamorphs (asexual forms) and teleomorphs (sexual forms), major changes are still works in progress. For example, amateurs will need to give up the generic names Hypocrea and Podostroma. They mainly become Trichoderma, even if they are not known to form traditional "Trichoderma" anamorphs! The Ascomycete book treats as Hypocrea, Hypocrea alutacea (formerly Podostroma alutaceum, but now Trichoderma alutaceum Jaklitsch, 2011), H. latizonata (not yet reclassified), H. pachybasioides (perhaps to be known as Trichoderma polysporum which the authors listed in synonymy), and so on. There are a few anomalous claims that may be based on misinformation. Having personal experience monographing Mitrula in 1977, I believe they may have accidentally reported Mitrula paludosa from northeastern Canada as well as Europe, whereas M. borealis was the species with that distribution. It took an effort to locate the thumbnail photo on page 33 from the mention on page 397 and then the photo credit on p. 471, traceable to the photographer (H.M.) who may have used old or European literature to identify it. To the author's credit, all such photographs are credited (to dozens of photographers) and traceable. It must have taken enormous effort to acquire and to collate the required images. A suggestion for future such books would be to place the photographer's initials next to their pictures.
Morels are a special case because of the intense interests for mycophagists
and their economic importance. Two disconnected cited treatments (Clowez
2010; Kuo et al. 2012) were published or in press at the time the Ascomycete
book was being prepared and both described many new species, but only one
using molecular analysis and the taxa overlapped in part. The authors of
Ascomycete fungi had to draw upon the unresolved conflicting data trying to
make sense of suspected synonymy for North American taxa. A detailed
discussion regarding one complex takes place on page 180 for example. It is
educational to read the accounts. Several of the authors of the disconnected
earlier publications plus others have subsequently jointly authored a paper
addressing the duplication and conflict in systematics There are stunning photos galore in the book of both common and rare species
and genera, e.g. Ascocoryne turficola, Nectriopsis violacea,
Neocudoniella radicella, Onygena corvine, Sowerbyella rhenana,
Cookeina tricholoma, etc. Also included are photos of species that have
yet to be formally described like "Elaphomyces americanum Castellano" and
"E. fallax Castellano & Trappe".
There is a 12 page long glossary and 12 pages of scientific references, and
index to the common names and another to the scientific names. The book is
recommended for the serious amateur, for professional research libraries and
even as a coffee table book to inspire guests with its beautiful fungi. It
is available electronically as well as hardcopy.
Send submissions to email@example.com
BEN is archived at http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/
There are stunning photos galore in the book of both common and rare species and genera, e.g. Ascocoryne turficola, Nectriopsis violacea, Neocudoniella radicella, Onygena corvine, Sowerbyella rhenana, Cookeina tricholoma, etc. Also included are photos of species that have yet to be formally described like "Elaphomyces americanum Castellano" and "E. fallax Castellano & Trappe". There is a 12 page long glossary and 12 pages of scientific references, and index to the common names and another to the scientific names. The book is recommended for the serious amateur, for professional research libraries and even as a coffee table book to inspire guests with its beautiful fungi. It is available electronically as well as hardcopy.