Hon. Research Associate Pam Catcheside publishes a new species of fungi that taxon occurs on Kangaroo Island and in Western Australia. Especially exciting is the fact that this species also belongs to a new genus. The authors examined the taxon with molecular methods and present its placement in a phylogeny of related genera of Pezizales. They also present detailed morphological observations on the new species. Because of its appearance, it is nick-named “Black Shoe Leather”.
(2) T.A. Hammer, The Ptilotus murrayi species group: synonymisation of P. petiolatus under P. murrayi and description of the new Western Australian species P. unguiculatus (Amaranthaceae) (1.7mb PDF)
Ptilotus unguiculatus inflorescence from the type specimen (PERTH).
Tim Hammer from The University of Western Australia describes a new species of Ptilotus (mulla mulla), which is only known from one collection from Eddaggee Station, in the Shark Bay area of Western Australia. He compares it with related species, including P. murrayi, which also occurs in the far north-east of South Australia.
To access content of all volumes of Swainsona and the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardenssince Vol. 1 (1976), please visit the journal’s web-site at flora.sa.gov.au/swainsona.
Although primarily in the UK to visit family and friends, I was delighted to find that a symposium was being held on fungi on 13th and 14th September while we were in the London area. Moreover, it was to be at Kew where I had spent many happy days in my youth amongst its strange, beautiful and amazing plants. A previous Kew project in 2016 (updated in 2017) to report on the ‘State of the World’s Plants’ had been hugely successful and it had been decided that it was timely to consider the fungi.
At the September meeting this year the report ‘State of the World’s Fungi’ was launched. It covers fungal diversity, the fungal tree of life, new discoveries, useful fungi, plant-fungal interactions, fungal genomes, fungal conservation, threats posed by fungal pathogens and climate change. Over 260 people attended the symposium, not only mycologists but botanists, plant breeders and plant pathologists, industrial chemists, those working in bioinformatics and systematics, conservationists, lichenologists, growers of fungi – anyone with a serious interest in fungi. The main aim was to review the current state of knowledge of all aspects of fungi.
Entoloma ravinense, a fungus from Kangaroo Island, described by Pam Catcheside and colleagues in 2016
There were seven sessions: conservation of fungi; plant-fungi interdependence; importance of lichens; threats and benefits of fungi to ecosystems; fungal networking; commercial value of fungi; discussion of ‘dark taxa’, i.e. those with only a molecular signature. Sixty-seven posters complemented the talks. See the programme and Conference Booklet (31mb PDF) for details and full abstracts.
Two species of fungi collected during a field survey in Kangaroo Island. Photo: D. Catcheside.
The whole conference ran like clockwork, starting with a rationale for the symposium and report and an overview of current knowledge of fungi and given by Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. With an approximate number of 3 million species, knowledge of what fungal species there are is relatively scant, with only 144,000 or 5% named. With respect to conservation status, only 56 fungi are on the IUCN Red List, compared with 25,452 plants and 68,054 animals.
The symposium was by no means doom and gloom though. The estimated 350 species of edible fungi are worth approximately US$42 billion each year. The medical benefits of fungi are inestimable from their use as antibiotics such as penicillin, cholesterol-reducing statins such as lovastatin produced from Aspergillus terreus and the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine which has made organ transplant possible and is produced from Tolypocladium inflatum. Fungi are also being used to make biofuels, in washing detergents, cotton processing, bioremediation and of course yeasts which underpin the baking, wine and beer industries. I was intrigued to learn that fungi are being used to make leather shoes, easily biodegradable when the user is tired of them. I also had not realised that Lego is made using itaconic acid derived from a species of Aspergillus.
Cortinarius austrovenetus, a species native to the Southern Lofty Region. Photo: D. Catcheside.
Especially exciting is that whole genomes have been sequenced for more than 1500 species, more than the number sequenced for plant and animal species combined. Knowledge of the genes and metabolic pathways is helping the design of effective therapies against pathogenic fungi. Genome sequencing of mycorrhizal fungi is providing insights into how to manage ecosystems more effectively and to deal with problems facing humanity such as climate change.
Cyanthus olla, the birds nest fungus. Photo: B. Baldock.
If I had my fungal time over again I would work with fungal endophytes. These live within plant root, stem and leaf tissue and it is thought that they occur in all plants. Though some may be harmful, many confer advantages to their host such as resistance to stresses such as drought, heat, salinity and pests. Trials have been conducted with a seed treatment containing fungal endophytes with a view to improving crop production and mitigating the effects of climate change.
The poster session was introduced by each of the 67 presenters explaining their poster in 45 seconds. The whole ‘performance’ was accomplished most impressively in one hour!
A copy of the full ‘State of the World’s Fungi’ report can be downloaded from the website. You can also listen to an interview with Dr Tom May, senior mycologist at the National Herbarium of Victoria, discussing the report with Phillip Adams on ABC’s Late Night Live program.
The State Herbarium of South Australia documents all known plant taxa (species, sub-species, varieties and forms) native and naturalised (weedy) in South Australia. These taxa are listed in the Census of South Australian Plants, Algae and Fungi. All newly discovered state and regional records are added to the Census throughout the year. The records are based on preserved plant specimens, verified by a botanists, and housed in the vaults of the State Herbarium.
Population of Chasmanthe aethiopica at Penneshaw (C.J.Brodie 7912), a new weed recorded for South Australia. Photos: C.J. Brodie.
For all new records of non-native plants, an annual report is produced by the Weeds Botanist Chris Brodie and colleagues from the State Herbarium. The report includes the list of new weeds recorded for South Australia with locations, descriptions, and photographs. Also documented are updates to other taxa that have had a change in distribution, weed status or name. Other activities carried out by Weeds Botanist are also summarised, such as field trips or presentations to community groups.
The latest report is now available online:
Brodie, C.J., Lang, P.J., Canty, P.D. & Waycott, M. (2018). Regional Landscape Surveillance for New Weed Threats Project, 2017-2018: Annual report on new plant naturalisations in South Australia. (4.5mb PDF).
Also available for download are last year’s 2017 report (3.8mb PDF) and a compilation of all reports from 2010 to 2016 (3.7mb PDF).
These reports highlights to land managers, which non-native plant species have recently been found in South Australia and where. New records are listed as either “naturalised/established” (*) or “questionably naturalised/established” (?e).
Naturalisedplant taxa are those that have originally been introduced by humans to an area, deliberately or accidentally. They have self-propagated without aid where they are not wanted, possibly spreading by natural means to new areas. An example listed in the recent report is Chasmanthe aethiopica (small cobra lily) or Eucalyptus densa subsp. densa. It is an attractive red-flowered bulbous herbaceous perennial plant. It was found naturalised on the upper dunes at Penneshaw beach on Kangaroo Island. This is the first record of this taxa growing wild in Australia.
Questionably Naturalised plant taxa (i.e. possible new weeds) are introduced non-native plants that may be self-propagating without aid, but are not well established or lack data to classify them as naturalised. An example of this in the report are a selection of species of eucalypts from W.A. and eastern Australia, including: E. eremophila subsp. eremophila, E. forrestiana, E stoatei and E. torquata.
Any unknown or possible new state or regional weed records should be reported to Chris Brodie (0437 825 685, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Contributed by State Herbarium Weeds Botanist Chris Brodie.
Darrell first became involved as a plant collector in 1957 soon after the establishment of the State Herbarium, and over the ensuing years contributed over 7000 collections. He also wrote the botanical history section prefacing the 1986 edition of the Flora of South Australia (Kraehenbuehl 1986), as well as a number of stand-alone papers on notable South Australian botanists.
In the 1980s and 90s he worked in the Native Vegetation Management Branch of the then Department of Environment and Planning where he pioneered assessments of plant conservation status within specific regions, a crucial tool in assessing vegetation clearance applications.
He was also influential as a popular speaker, sharing his knowledge of the State’s flora and remnant native vegetation with numerous local groups and schools.
Left: Darrell taking field notes in scrub at Desert Camp (now Conservation Park). Right: with Crinum flaccidum at Murtho Native Forest Reserve. Photos: P.J.Lang.
Darrell’s early interest in the flora of the Adelaide plains began as diversions into remnant patches whilst on delivery runs in a scrap-metal business with his stepfather. It culminated in the publication of his definitive and highly acclaimed book documenting the pre-European vegetation of the Adelaide Plains (Kraehenbuehl 1996).
In 1998 Pultenaea kraehenbuehlii, a bush-pea endemic to the Tothill Ranges, was named in honour of Darrell and in recognition of his botanical exploration of that area (see also original description of the species in the Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens; 776kb PDF).
Pultenaea kraehenbuehlii photographed by Darrell in the Tothill Ranges, Northern Lofty Region.
A more detailed account of Darrell is available here from a speech by State Herbarium honorary associate Bill Barker on the occasion of Darrell’s retirement in 1999.
Darrell was a colourful character who is remembered for his diverse contributions to botany and passionate commitment to plant conservation, as well as his sense of humour, generous nature and infectious enthusiasm.
Contributed by State Herbarium botanist Peter Lang.
Kraehenbuehl, D.N. (1986). History of botany in South Australia (1800-1955). In: Jessop, J.P. & Toelken, H.R. (eds), Flora of South Australia.Fourth Edition. Part 1, pp. 13-39. Government Printer: Adelaide. (0.9mb PDF)
Imagination can run riot when investigating the microscopic anatomy of algae.
A rather beautiful alga from Western Australia (Cryptonemia species) looks relatively ordinary from the outside—but, when tissues are squashed, expelling the unusual internal cells, a new world of cell shapes is revealed under the microscope.
Cryptonemia sp A99478 habit
Cryptonemia sp A99478 ganglionic cells
What does the image of the large central cell remind you of? It is, in fact, of a ganglioid cell, unique to some members of the family Halymeniaceae. It gets its name because of the resemblance to the shape of a type of nerve cell found in animals, but as far as we know, doesn’t transmit impulses along its long arms as happens with animal ganglionic cells. In fact, the scientific literature is silent on its function.
A similarly unusual cell type from the Kallymeniaceae is the stellate cell.
Kallymenia rubra A35870 habit
Kallymenia rubra A35870 stellate cell
It comes from inside membranous blades, in a similar position to that of ganglioid cells of the Halymeniaceae, and has short, radiating arms. Again, nothing is definitive about its function.