Fungi Portraits: Showcasing new and interesting Australasian fungi described by Australasian mycologists
April 2020 – Syncephalastrum contaminatum, a new zygomycete found as a laboratory contaminant
Numerous new species of fungi are described each year, mostly in the Dikarya (Ascomycota and Basidiomycota). Andrew Urquhart and Alexander Idnurm add to the knowledge of the Mucorales (Mucoromycota) by describing a new species of Syncephalastrum found as a contaminant of a laboratory culture of another fungus. Four sporangiospores are formed in each merosporangium. Morphological characters are very similar to other species of Syncephalastrum, but the ITS sequence is distinct from the three other species described so far in the genus. A complete genome of the novel fungus was obtained through Illumina sequencing. The structure of the sex locus suggests that Syncephalastrum contaminatum is heterothallic. The natural area of distribution and the ecological preference of the fungus remains unknown.
Scanning electron micrograph of four-spored merosporangia arising from terminal enlargement of the sporangiophore of Syncephalastrum contaminatum.
Urquhart AS & Idnurm A (2020) Syncephalastrum contaminatum, a new species in the Mucorales from Australia. Mycoscience, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1340354020300188
December 2019 – a trio of Tubifera from a Tasmanian slime mould hotspot
Slime moulds are not true Fungi but they still fall among organisms of interest to mycologists: one part of the lifecycle is a spore-producing stage. Inspection of the Atlas of Living Australia shows a global hotspot of slime mould diversity at Black Sugarloaf, Birralee in the central north of Tasmania, due to the collecting and recording efforts of Sarah Lloyd. Recently, Sarah and collaborators Dmitry Leontyev and Nikki Heherson Dagamac have described three new species in the genus Tubifera. This slime mould forms pseudoaethalia — compound fructifications made up of massed individual sporothecae (sporing units). All three of the novel species occur at Black Sugarloaf, with Tubifera vanderheuliae also known from New South Wales. The species are distinguished by their DNA sequences, and subtle variation in pseudoaethelial characters.
Black Sugarloaf slime mould hotspot in the Atlas of Living Australia https://biocache.ala.org.au/occurrences/search?q=lsid:urn:lsid:catalogueoflife.org:taxon:3d2934b9-6ae5-11e5-9d43-bc764e092680:col20161028#tab_mapView
For "Colour by" choose "Record density grid".
Hemispherical pseudoaethalium of Tubifera vanderheuliae comprised of a bouquet of sporothecae, showing iridescence at the apex of some sporothecae. Image: Sarah Lloyd (copyright, used with permission).
Lloyd SJ, Leontyev DV, Dagamac NHA (2019). Three new species of Tubifera from Tasmania and New South Wales. Phytotaxa 414(5): 240–252.
May 2019 – Gamarada debralockiae – a new name for a widespread ericoid mycorrhizal fungus
For many years, a common fungus that forms mycorrhizal relationships with plants in the family Ericaceae across Australia has been known as “Woollsia mycorrhizal fungus VI”. David Midgley and Nai Tran-Dinh formally describe this fungus as Gamarada debralockiae Midgley and Tran-Dinh in the new genus Gamarada, based on morphological and whole genome data. The fungus is slow-growing and does not sporulate in culture. DNA sequence data place it alongside a number of other un-named ericoid mycorrhizal and root-associated fungi, from Australia and elsewhere. Gamarada is not closely related to named ericoid mycorrhizal fungi in genera such as Oidiodendron, Cairneyella and Pezoloma. The closest named relative is Hyphodiscus, with which G. debralockiae shares only 90% identity across a 490 bp stretch of the Internal Transcribed Spacer region. It is clear that numerous other species of ericoid mycorrhizal fungus await formal description.
In culture, Gamarada debralockiae grows slowly, forming greyish colonies, sometimes with droplet formation, as shown here for growth on PDA after 42 days. (Image: Nai Tran-Dinh and David Midgley).
Midgley, D.J., Sutcliffe, B., Greenfield, P. & Tran-Dinh, N. (2018). Gamarada debralockiae gen. nov. sp. nov.—the genome of the most widespread Australian ericoid mycorrhizal fungus. Mycorrhiza 28:379–389.
January 2019 – Planticonsortium, a fungal endophyte in the Mucoromycota
The fine-root endophyte long known as Glomus tenue does not belong in the Glomeromycota, but represents a lineage of the Mucoromycota. Consequently, the new genus Planticonsortium has been introduced to accommodate G. tenue. The fungus was originally described from New Zealand, but occurs globally. Within plant roots, Planticonsortium tenue forms a variety of structures, including globose swellings, arbuscules, coils, and comb- or fan-like structures that appear to clasp around plant cells.
Root colonised by Planticonsortium tenue, showing a rope-like hyphal bundle (darkly stained) from which arise fan-shaped structures. Image: Christopher Walker (reproduced with permission).
Walker C, Gollotte A, Redecker D. (2018) A new genus, Planticonsortium (Mucoromycotina), and new combination (P. tenue), for the fine root endophyte, Glomus tenue (basionym Rhizophagus tenuis). Mycorrhiza 28: 213–219.
September 2018 – a freshwater fungus with complex conidia
Arachnophora longa is a novel freshwater fungus recently described by Sally Fryar (Flinders University) and Kevin Hyde (Mae Fah Luang University). The type and only known collection was found on submerged wood at Cape Tribulation, in north Queensland, Australia. The fungus is barely visible on the natural substrate, but produces distinctive multi-armed macroconidia as well as microconidia. Macroconidia are star-shaped, with a two-celled central body from which arises several arms. Microconidia are produced at the tips of the arms. The generic name Arachnophora refers to the spider-like conidia of the type species, A. fagicola Hennebert, which typically have four protuberances from which arise several finger-like projections. Viewed from certain angles, conidia of the new species resemble a jumping frog.
Fryar SC, Hyde KD (2018). Arachnophora longa sp. nov., a freshwater hyphomycete from far north Queensland, Australia. Mycotaxon 133: 913.
Arachnophora longa. Above: living colony on natural substrate (scale = 0.2 mm). Below: star-shaped macroconidium, showing four arms, with microconidia at the tips of the arms (scale = 10 microns). Photos: Sally Fryar (reproduced with permission).
March 2018 – Zombie-ant fungus from Australia
Zombie-ant fungi are members of the genus Ophiocordyceps. Ants infected by these fungi exhibit bizarre behaviours such as climbing higher into the canopy of plants, and finally biting plant parts – presumably so that the ant cadaver (now clamped on to the plant) is in a better position from which the fungus can disperse.
A recent publication on this group of fungi by Araújo et al. (2018) includes 15 new species and combinations, among which is the novel species Ophiocordyceps oecophyllae, from the ant host Oecophylla smaragdina, collected from Wongaling Beach in the Licuala State Forest, Queensland, Australia.
Ophiocordyceps oecophyllae infecting the ant Oecophylla smaragdina. Fungal mycelium is emerging from leg joints and is superficial on the ant exoskeleton. Note the ant jaws clamped to the leaf. Photo: Roger Shivas (reproduced with permission).
Araújo JPM, Evans HC, Kepler R, Hughes DP (2018). Zombie-ant fungi across continents: 15 new species and new combinations within Ophiocordyceps. I. Myrmecophilous hirsutelloid species, Studies in Mycology 90: 119–160. <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166061617300593>
Elaine Davison and colleagues recently characterised three new species of Amanita from southern Australia, in the section Phalloideae. This section also contains the highly toxic Death Cap (Amanita phalloides). In molecular phylogenetic analyses, the novel species fall within one clade of Section Phalloideae, Clade IX, that also contains Amanita eucalypti and A. marmorata; and otherwise only two non-Australian taxa (undescribed species from Asia). Chemical analyses of four Australian members of Clade IX did not detect highly toxic amatoxins, but phallotoxins were present. The three novel species include Amanita djalimari E.M. Davison, distinguished morphologically by the white to pale buff pileus in combination with broadly ellipsoid spores.
Amanita djalimari, showing saccate volva at base of stipe, often present in members of Amanita section Phalloideae. (Image: EM Davison, reproduced with permission.)
February 2018 - Novel death cap mushrooms from Australia
Davison EM, Giustiniano D, Busetti F, Gates GM, Syme K (2017). Death cap mushrooms from southern Australia: additions to Amanita (Amanitaceae, Agaricales) section Phalloideae Clade IX. Australian Systematic Botany 30: 371–389. <http://www.publish.csiro.au/SB/SB17032>
January 2018 - a multitude of Inocybe
Inocybe are classic LBMs (little brown mushrooms) – the genus can be recognised in the field with some practice, but distinguishing species is problematic. Brandon Matheny and Neale Bougher have recently published a monumental contribution to the taxonomy and systematics of the family Inocybaceae in Australia, covering 137 species (mostly Inocybe, with eight Auritella and two Tubariomyces), of which 101 are newly described. There are a number of species groups where identification of individual species in the field will remain difficult, but all species are provided with comprehensive details on macroscopic and microscopic features and the volume is richly illustrated. For most species, DNA sequence data have been obtained, allowing an integrated approach to species delimitation that utilises morphological, ecological and molecular phylogenetic observations.
Inocybe brunneodisca, one of 101 new species of Inocybe included in the recent Fungi of Australia: Inocybaceae volume. (Photo: PB Matheny)
Matheny PB & Bougher NL (2017) Fungi of Australia: Inocybaceae. ABRS: Canberra and CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne. <http://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7650/>
December 2017 - yeasts from curious minds
Students and teachers at three New Zealand schools, assisted by mycologists at Landcare Research, have collected and identified novel fungi from native forests in the region of their schools. Students took swabs of the surface of material such as feathers and mushrooms and participated in establishing and maintaining cultures, and DNA sequencing. The students were shown the process of differentiating and publishing new species, and collectively chose the name for the species epithet. Funding was provided under the Unlocking Curious Minds program <https://www.curiousminds.nz/news/new-species-discovered/>
This project resulted in the description of several novel species of yeasts (such as Rhodotorula ngohengohe Padamsee, B.S. Weir, Petterson & P.K. Buchanan) in Fungal Planet description sheets that appeared earlier this year in volume 38 of Persoonia <https://www.curiousminds.nz/assets/Uploads/FP-NZ-yeasts.pdf>
Detail from the illustration accompanying the description of Rhodotorula ngohengohe, a novel yeast isolated from the surface of a feather at the Kaikohe water catchment, Northland, New Zealand
November 2017 - Chlorociboria sp
An undescribed Chlorociboria sp. from Nothofagus moorei wood, Gloucester Tops, Barrington Tops National Park, Australia (voucher PDD 111498).
Chlorociboria is a spectacular genus of inoperculate discomycete fungi (Leotiomycetes), common in the forests of Australasia. This image is one of the numerous undescribed Chlorociboria species from Australia. Although all confirmed specimens of this particular species are from forests with Nothofagus present (Otway and Barrington Tops National Parks), to know whether this is a real ecological preference requires more intensive survey. Australian diversity in Chlorociboria is likely to be greater than the 15 species already reported for New Zealand. As with many genera of the Leotiomycetes, some of the Australian species have a sister relationship to New Zealand species (e.g. an undescribed C. duriligna-like species, an undescribed C. spiralis-like species), but other species such as the Chlorociboria illustrated here, are genetically quite distinct.
Additional images for voucher specimen in PDD <https://scd.landcareresearch.co.nz/Specimen/PDD%20111498>.
Johnston PR, Park D (2005). Chlorociboria (Fungi, Helotiales) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 43: 679–719.
October 2017 - Tulasnella warcupii Linde & T.W. May
Tulasnella warcupii was isolated from the orchid Arthrochilus oreophilus in Eucalyptus woodland in Queensland and described as new in 2017 along with three other orchid-associated species of Tulasnella. Due to the lack of production of sexual spores and the rather similar cultural morphology across the four species, delimitation of the new taxa was primarily on the basis of diagnostic DNA nucleotide characters (as established following a multi gene analysis of multiple collections per taxon). The new fungus was named in honour of Jack Warcup, for his pioneering work on the fungi associated with Australian native orchids.
Culture of Tulasnella warcupii on half strength FIM (Image: Celeste Linde).
Linde, C.C., May, T.W., Phillips, R D., Ruibal, M., Smith, L.M. & Peakall, R. (2017). New species of Tulasnella associated with terrestrial orchids in Australia. IMA Fungus 8: 27–47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5493536/pdf/ima-8-27.pdf