Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Laccaria and Hydnangium of the PNW
Laccaria have white spores (they lost their spore pigment and are actually inside the brown spored sub-order Agaricineae). They have somewhat waxy-looking, well spaced gills that make you think of the waxy caps. The caps are dry, somewhat hygrophanous and scaly which might make you think of Lepiota, but the gills are always attached. It's hard to describe, but you will soon be able to easily identify them by the fact that they are always orange or purple (or orange and purple) with tough, rough fibrous stems. They are also distinguished by spiny spores under the microscope. They are usually <5cm across, but some grow larger. They are mycorrhizal, usually with conifers in the pine family and often with hardwoods like birch and willow as well.
Trufflized species of Laccaria belong to the sister genus Hydnangium. So far they seem to merit their own genus, instead of the typical situation where the truffles are imbedded in with the non-trufflized species. They are recognized by pink folds and chambers inside.
abundant common uncommon rare - colour codes match my Pictorial Key and are my opinions and probably reflect my bias of living in W WA. Rare species may be locally common in certain places at certain times.
Summary of Interesting Results
Here are some of the newest, most interesting results of the study:
Trufflized species of Laccaria belong to the sister genus Hydnangium. So far they seem to merit their own genus, instead of the typical situation where the truffles are imbedded in with the non-trufflized species. They are recognized by pink folds and chambers inside. Our species has been called the EU name Hydnangium carneum, but Italian and California DNA differ by about 3% in the two sequences I've seen, so ours may be a sister species.
Hydnangium aff carneum © Jim Trappe
Laccaria with purple - click to expand
The purple tones may be restricted to the mycelium at the base of the stem, and only when fresh, so you may never see the purple.
Species mentioned: Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis, nobilis, bicolor
Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis BC - the most easily recognized species as it is quite large and entirely purple when young. Even after it fades to orange, the gills usually stay somewhat brightly coloured with a hint of lilac. It has an award winning number of syllables in its name (14) so it is often called "Laccaria a-o". It is a local species described from BC.
Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis © Steve Trudell and Fred Rhoades
Laccaria nobilis CO - a somewhat large, scaly montane orange species that may have hints of purple when young, but usually doesn't, making it hard to ID. Described from Colorado. We have over a dozen recent local sequences. It is both larger and scalier on the cap and stem than Laccaria bicolor, described next. Laccaria proxima, below, is a lower elevation lookalike without ever any hints of purple when young, but perhaps best distinguished microscopically.
Laccaria nobilis © Steve Ness
Laccaria bicolor EU - this more slender species is mostly orange but will have a hint of purple in the gills or in the basal mycelium at the base of the stem when young. It is not as large nor scaly as Laccaria nobilis. The gills are whitish and not bright when old. In this photo, the hints of purple have faded so you would need a scope to tell it apart from the species always without purple, below.
Mating studies showed that the EU biological species is also found in western North America (as they could mate with each other). However, the DNA seems to be somewhat variable as ITS can vary by 4 bp and 7 indels between the EU and here in the PNW, and by a few locations within the PNW, so there may be a clade of WNA sequences and clade of EU sequences. So far, we are assuming they are the same species.
Laccaria bicolor © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History
Laccaria without purple - click to expand
Species mentioned: Laccaria proxima, tortilis, laccata, montana, pumila
Laccaria proxima EU - is a robust, scaly species much like its higher elevation lookalike Laccaria nobilis, but probably from lower elevations. L. nobilis may have very subtle purple tones when very young (but that's usually not reported) so the two are probably best distinguished microscopically. DNA confirmed from BC, WA and OR.
Laccaria proxima © Ann Goddard and Yi-Min Wang
Laccaria tortilis EU - a very small (<2.5 cm) species with a very pleated cap, only a few, thick gills, and a short stem. It has 2-spored basidia and therefore relatively large round spores 10-15u, with tall warts between 1.5u and 3u. We have reliable EU sequences of this EU species, and one WA sequence matches them all very well.
Laccaria pumila EU - a lookalike species likely to be found with willow at high elevations with a longer stem than L. tortilis, it has nearly round spores of the same size but smaller warts <1.5u tall. 21 sequences from Skulow Lake, BC are all within 5 bp in ITS and one OR sequence is within 3 bp of the BC sequences and 6 bp of EU sequences. However some sequences that may be from the EU are much closer to our sequences, so for now I'm assuming it's all one species with some variability in ITS. We really need a type sequence, because this mushroom is not well understood.
Laccaria 'montana PNW04' EU - Laccaria montana EU is said to be another high elevation lookalike but with slightly smaller round spores 8-14u due to 4-spored basidia, and warts <1.5u tall. Our one sequence of a mushroom in this complex did not match a couple of EU sequences and is likely not the actual species. It wasn't pleated, wasn't quite as small, and had more gills, so it didn't resemble true L. montana either. It was also found near sea level. The real L. montana should still be looked for at elevation as well as more collections of our local sister species. We also need a type sequence of L. montana because that is not well understood either.
Laccaria tortilis © Yi-Min Wang, L. pumila © Connor Dooley, Laccaria 'montana PNW04' © Juwon Lee
Laccaria laccata complex EU - average sized (<5 cm) species usually found here with oak (although it's not described as needing oak) that is usually not as robust or scaly as Laccaria proxima. It can grow at low elevations. Until recently, most every single orange species here and around the world was called by this name, and so were species with purple that had lost their purple tones. It is a very poorly understood species and we don't have a type sequence of it, but Wilson has provided somewhat reliable sequences of it (after eliminating almost every other possibility), and we have ITS DNA that matches well from BC and OR to this complex. Two sequences are found, each one from around the world (nothing to do with geographical isolation) that differ by 1 bp in ITS2 and 5 bp and 1 long indel in ITS1, so for now I am calling them Laccaria 'laccata PNW01' and Laccaria 'laccata PNW02' (both seem to associate with oak) until it is determined if they are the same species, or different, and which one is the real thing. It is not nearly as common as everybody thought.
Laccaria 'laccata PNW01' © Michael Beug, L. 'laccata PNW02' © Autumn Anglin
Laccaria 'longipes PNW05' - perhaps this is L. longipes, with a long stem found in sphagnum near spruce, larch or alder. We have one east coast sequence with that name that matches, but no type to prove it, and a Quebec sequences purporting to be this is a different species.
Laccaria PNW03 - this recent sequence of a somewhat pinkish Laccaria from WA matches a couple of sequences back east, but I have no idea what it might be.
Laccaria 'longipes PNW05' © Connor Dooley, Laccaria PNW03 © Yi-Min Wang (2 images)
Laccaria spp. - we have a number of unique environmental sequences, and one fruiting body sequence from OR that doesn't match anything else, but without photos, a second matching sequence, or in most cases, fruiting bodies, I won't say anything about these yet.
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