Research news: fungi paper published

The State Herbarium of South Australia‘s mycologist, Dr Teresa Lebel, published the following paper with her co-authors, yesterday, in the journal Fungal Systematics and Evolution (FUSE):

T. Lebel, J.A. Cooper, M.A. Castellano & J. Nuytinck (2021). Three independent evolutionary events of sequestrate Lactifluus species in Australasia. FUSE 8: 9-25 (open access).

Three Australian species of fungi with sequestrate (truffle-like) basidiome forms are recorded for the first time in the genus Lactifluus (milk-caps) based on nuclear ITS-LSU DNA sequences and morphological data. These species represent three rare independent evolutionary events resulting in truffle-like basidiomes arising from agaricoid (typical mushroom forms) species in three different sections in two subgenera. All three species have highly reduced basidiome forms, and no species with intermediate forms have been found.

Lactifluus dendriticus (T. Lebel) T. Lebel, J. Cooper & Nuytinck (originally described as Zelleromyces dendriticus) is unique in the genus Lactifluus in having highly branched, dendritic terminal elements in the pileipellis. One other new species is formally described in this paper: Lactifluus geoprofluens T. Lebel, Castellano, Claridge & Trappe. The third taxon is only given the informal name Lactifluus sp. prov. KV181, as not enough material was available for a detailled description.

The mushroom-like Lactifluus wirrabara (A) and its close relative, the truffle-like Lactifluus dendriticus (B). Photos: T. Lebel.

Second edition of book on EP plants

Recently, a revised second edition of this popular book on Eyre Peninsula plants was published by the author.

Saunders, Brian (2021). Flowering plants of lower Eyre Peninsula: An illustrated tour of the native flora (second edition), 203 pp. Lane Print & Post: Camden Park.

Like in the first edition of the book, the author gives a photographic identification guide to the more common plants of lower Eyre Peninsula, with brief notes on their distribution and biology. The southern half of Eyre Peninsula is home to many remarkable plants, including some which are endemic to the region.

A list of all EP native plants can be found through the eFloraSA website.

State Herbarium of South Australia botanists Peter Lang was heavily involved in the book project, advising Brian on the correct names of plants and checking text and images.

The publication is available for $25 in Coffin Bay (Post Office and IGA Store), as well as Port Lincoln (Visitor Information Centre and Beers Newsagency).

Fungal Hitch-hikers to Oz — some are poisonous

A number of mushrooms that fruit at the start of the autumn are fungi that have been introduced to Australia with their non-native tree hosts. These are the ectomycorrhizal fungi that have hitch-hiked to Oz on the roots of pines, firs, birch, oaks and willows. Ectomycorrhizal fungi form an obligate symbiosis with the roots of their host trees, providing water and access to nutrients that the plant roots can’t get too, and in return receiving food in the form of sugars that the fungus can’t make for itself.

In the early days, plants were transported to Australia as seedlings or small trees, sometimes as bare root stock, or at times in a pot of soil. The native fungi in Australia cannot form these symbioses with the non-native trees, so it was critical that these ectomycorrhizal hitch-hikers came along for the ride, enabling the establishment of some lovely trees.

Ectomycorrhizal roots (LEFT) and a cross-section of a root-tip showing the ‘sock’ of fungal hyphae surrounding the root and penetrating in between root cells (blue staining; RIGHT)

While the identity of species fruiting with oaks, pines and birch are reasonably well known, there are still surprises, and very little known about the ectomycorrhizal hitch-hikers that grow with willows. Unfortunately while there are some edible mushrooms in the mix, there are also some poisonous species, including the deadly toxic Amanita phalloides or deathcap. If you see any of these poisonous mushrooms, then please lodge photos in our iNaturalist fungisight project. This will help provide a better idea of how widely these mushrooms are distributed.

Amanita phalloides grows only with oaks, chestnut & hazelnut in Oz. Caps are generally greenish yellow, shiny, 3-10 cm wide. Gills white. Stem has a ring or skirt, and a bulbous sac (volva) that the stem sits inside at the base.

POISONOUS — One of the most poisonous of all known mushrooms, a piece the size of a 20c piece or a small button is enough to cause serious organ damage or fatality. The principal toxin is α-amanitin, which damages the liver and kidneys, causing liver and kidney failure, in people and pets.

Amanita phalloides. Photo: T. Lebel.

Amanita phalloides. Photo: T. Lebel.

Amanita muscaria grows with birch, pines, & oaks. Caps are red to orange with white flecks on top, 8-20 cm wide. Gills white. Stem has a ring or skirt and a bulbous base.

POISONOUS — Contains several active compounds, muscimol a psychoactive and ibotenic acid a neurotoxin. Deaths from this fungus have occurred but are rare.

Amanita muscaria (composite image). Photo: R. Halling.

Paxillus involutus grows with birch, oaks, hazel, & pines. Caps are various shades of brown, funnel-shaped up to 12 cm wide with a distinctive inrolled rim. Gills slightly lighter in colour than the cap, running down the stem (decurrent) (see also images on the Kaimai Bush page).

POISONOUS — An antigen in the mushroom triggers the immune system to attack red blood cells. People can consume the mushroom for years without any other ill effects, before suddenly becoming seriously to fatally ill.

Paxillus involutus. Photo: T. Lebel.

Lactarius pubescens grows with birch. Caps are a blend of pink and brownish, sometimes with concentric zones of alternating lighter and darker shades, often with a central depression, up to 10 cm wide. The edge of the cap is rolled inward, and shaggy when young. Gills are a similar colour to the cap. When cut or injured, the fruit bodies ooze a bitter white milk (see also information on the First Nature page).

POISONOUS — This species is highly irritating causing mild to severe gastro. The toxins, also responsible for the strongly bitter or acrid taste, are typically destroyed by cooking or long preparation.

Lactarius pubescens (LEFT), close-up of gills and edge of cap (RIGHT). Photos: T. Lebel.

Lactarius turpis / necator typically grows with birch, but can grow on pine & spruce. Caps are olive brown or yellow-green and often sticky or slimy, with an inrolled margin and velvety zones when young. Cap becomes funnel-shaped and darkens to blackish in age, up to 8–20 cm wide. Gills dirty white, stained olive-brown by old milk, running slightly down the stem (see also information on the First Nature page).

NOT RECOMMENDED  Very bitter/acrid tasting and contains a mutagen nectorin.

Lactarius turpis. Photo: T. Lebel.

If you suspect you or someone you know has eaten a wild mushroom, do not wait for symptoms to appear. Contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for advice and always call triple zero (000) in an emergency.

Written by State Herbarium mycologist Dr Teresa Lebel.

New research paper on fungi

Geothermal area in New Zealand, habitat shot. Photo: T. Lebel.

State Herbarium mycologist Teresa Lebel is involved in a research project on ectomycorrhizal fungi, which resulted in this recent publication:

Pisolithus albus fruiting bodies in a geothermal vent. Photo: T. Lebel.

Plett, K.L., Kohler, A., Lebel, T., Singan, V.R., Bauer, D., He, G., Ng, V., Grigoriev, I.V., Martin, F., Plett, J.M. & Anderson, I.C. (2021). Intra-species genetic variability drives carbon metabolism and symbiotic host interactions in the ectomycorrhizal fungus Pisolithus microcarpus. Environmental Microbiology 23: 2004-2020 (open access).

Pisolithus species are important ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, forming symbiotic associations with the roots of Myrtaceae, Nothofagaceae, Pinaceae, Fagaceae in particular. In Australia these fungi occur in diverse habitats, but in New Zealand the mycorrhizal hosts only occur around geothermal areas. In this paper the extent of intra-species variation between four isolates of the ECM fungus Pisolithus microcarpus, in terms of gene regulation, carbon metabolism and growth, and interactions with a host, Eucalyptus grandis, was explored. The authors’ results highlight the importance of sampling a wider range of individuals within a species to understand the broader ecological roles of ECM fungi and their host interactions.

The typical fruitbody texture and colour of a Pisolithus species, with large granular texture of chambers in the spore bearing tissue. Collection TL2765, made on Kangaroo Island. Photo: D. Catheside.

Written by State Herbarium mycologist Teresa Lebel.

New journal articles: April 2021

Stenanthemum leucophractum, growing in Wanilla Settlement Reserve (Eyre Peninsula). Photo: J. Kellermann.

The State Herbarium of South Australia published three articles in Vol. 35 of its journal Swainsona online, today, 7 April 2021. In these articles, State Herbarium botanist Dr Jürgen Kellermann and colleagues, continue the publication of results of the research project on Australian Rhamnaceae, which is funded by the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra (ABRS).

(1) J. Kellermann, Further lectotypifications and nomenclatural notes on Rhamnaceae from northern Australia. (8mb PDF).

Ventilago ecorollata from rainforests in eastern Queensland. Line drawing by Anita Barley.

In this paper, the nomenclature and typification of seven species of Rhamnaceae from genera occuring in northern Australia, is discussed and lectotypes are chosen for some of them. Several species are illustrated with excellent line-drawings by Anita Barley (see below).

(2) J. Kellermann & K.R. Thiele, The other ‘propeller plant’ – Notes on Stenanthemum Reissek (Rhamnaceae: Pomaderreae) and a key to the genus in Australia. (3.2mb PDF).

The genus Stenanthemum was reinstated by Western Australian botanist Barbara Rye, who also published several new species in 1995, 2001 and 2007. While she provided detailed descriptions of all new species and subspecies, no recent descriptions are available for most of the already existing taxa. These ten plants are treated in this paper by Jürgen Kellermann and Kevin Thiele, who also select lectotypes for most of them and present a key to all species of the genus in Australia.

(3) J. Kellermann, The importance of the ‘h’ – Parahomonymy in Trymalium (Rhamnaceae: Pomaderreae. (2.2mb PDF).

Spyridium daphnoides, formerly known as S. spathulatum, from Deep Creek Conservation Park (Fleurieu Peninsula). Photo: J. Kellermann.

The history of the species names Trymalium spatulatum (Labill.) G.Don from Western Australia and T. spathulatum F.Muell., the basionym of Spyridium spathulatum (F.Muell.) Benth., from South Australia is discussed. The author concludes that the names are so similar that they are likely to be confused and that they should be treated as homonyms under the International Code of Nomenclature (ICN). This means that the current name for the South Australian species is illegitimate and needs to be replaced by the new combination S. daphnoides (Reissek) Kellermann, which is published in this paper.

To access content of all volumes of Swainsona and the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens since Vol. 1 (1976), please visit the journal’s web-site at flora.sa.gov.au/swainsona.

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