Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Inky Caps of the PNW
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.
The Psathyrellaceae family is known for black spored, very fragile mushrooms with dry, usually hygrophanous caps and gills that are barely attached and easily come free. There used to be two kinds:
The problem is, the ability to turn to ink didn't just evolve once. Perhaps it's a gene that may or may not get expressed in different lineages (they seem to be able to evolve back and forth between being able to "ink" and not fairly readily). Since the inky ones are not all in one related group, but sprinkled throughout the family tree, we can't just use one name for the inky species and one name for the non-inky species, so both groups have many different genera in them now.
This page addresses those that turn to ink (or at least tatter in age). Those with a pleated cap are likely inkies and not "Psathyrella". The spores are usually black, but not always -they might be very dark brown. Not all of them are very fragile, but they all do have a cellular cap cuticle (explained on my Psathyrella page). The entire mushroom is usually so thin, that not only the top layer of the cap can break in any direction, that usually extends to the entire cap breaking easily in any direction. If no matter how carefully you try to handle your mushroom, odd shaped chunks are missing from the cap by the time to carry it somewhere, it just might be a Psathyrella. Another clue to a cellular cap cuticle is it has a tendancy to wrinkle more easily as the spherical cells collapse in on each other, and they sparkle in the sun as the light reflects off the spheres.
A few species of Coprinopsis and Parasola do not deliquesce in the least, and so are also described on the Psathyrella page.
Parasola - click to expand
These species are often extremely pleated, occasionally with tiny cap hairs sticking out, which may have more of a tendency to open up and flatten in age than other genera. There's often a bright brown eye on the disc. There is no universal veil material on the cap (nor any other pileal cystidial elements), and they don't really turn to ink, just tatter. The gills are often distinctly free. They are often found in grass and gardens. They can be very difficult to separate from Coprinellus and Tulosesus. Coprinellus is more likely to have granular veil particles on the cap. Tulosesus is even harder to differentiate, but probably doesn't have as distinct an eye on the disc. One 'Psathyrella' species that is not pleated turned out to be a new section of Parasola. It is very difficult to tell apart from Psathyrella.
Species mentioned: Parasola plicatilis, auricoma, lactea, neoplicatilis and conopilea
We dont have a lot of local sequences to confirm which species we have here, but the following have been reported so we need local collections: the European Parasola plicatilis (no cap hairs) and Parasola auricoma (with very tiny cap hairs), and the eastern NA species Parasola lactea (slightly paler than P. plicatilis). Parasola auricoma seems to be a complex so there may be more than one species going by that name.
possible Parasola plicitilis © Steve Trudell
Parasola aff 'neoplicatilis' - Interestingly, the first typical pleated Parasola that I had sequenced from Bridle Trails in WA turned out to be none of the above, but a sister (3% different) of a new species that is currently being described (I think from Japan), Parasola neoplicatilis n.p. It is possible it will need its own name.
Parasola aff 'neoplicitilis n.p.' © Daniel Winkler
Parasola aff lilatincta - Also interestingly, the second typical Parasola sequenced, from Oregon, also turned out to be none of the above that it was supposed to be. This one is a sister species of the P. lilatincta complex, which in the EU has ITS DNA that varies by 2%. This unnamed sister species is also a complex with ITS DNA that varies by >2%.
Parasola aff lilatincta © Bruce Newhouse
Parasola conopilea - This former Psathyrella is not pleated, and it does not turn to ink at all, but it can be recognized as a Parasola by the lack of any universal veil material, and from very small brown cap hairs. There are 2 clades of this European species, and ours is closest to the clade with the type sequence, so this complex would have to be split up into more than 2 species for ours to need a new name, and I don't think that's going to happen. This picture shows the cap cuticle clearly and easily breaking across (not radially) due to the cellular cap cuticle.
Parasola conopilea © Alan Rockefeller
Coprinellus - click to expand
Usually also golden brown in youth, and also strongly pleated, also often free gills, very much like Parasola, although there is not usually as sharp an eye on the disc. These are species with a universal veil material made up of roundish cells often visible as particles on the young, fresh cap. The segregated Tulosesus is more likely to have no universal veil, but microscopic cap hairs. (as well as angular spores). The caps may turn to ink, or they just might tatter.
Species mentioned: Coprinellus micaceus, saccharinus, domesticus, radians, xanthothrix and flocculosus. Coprinus arachnoideus, bubalinus and alutaceivelatus. Coprinopsis bulalina and alutaceivelata.
Coprinellus micaceus - This worldwide species has glistening particles like mica all over the cap when young. It is said to have miniscule pale hairs on the stem, unlike the following lookalike. You should suspect any similar species you find without the mica particles is probably this species, because they wash off easily and the species without the particles are much rarer.
Wachter (see the introduction bibliography on the Psathyrella page) points out that many American sequences are quite distinct genetically from many European sequences, although both have now travelled the world. Interestingly, the 4 PNW sequences I have match the real European sequences, and only one California sequence I've seen represents the American species. No difference can be found between them yet, so there is not yet a call to treat them as two separate species.
Coprinellus micaceus © Michael Beug
Coprinellus saccharinus - This very, very similar species is said to have a smooth stem. It has genetics that are slightly different in America versus the EU, and the one OR sequence I have matches the Americas. Again, without any ecological or morphological differences, there is no call to separate the species yet, especially since the genetic difference is so slight - only about 3 bp plus 5 ambiguous positions. This species was not known from the PNW until the Oregon sequence, so I don't know how to recognize it.
Coprinellus saccharinus © Jonathan Frank
Coprinellus disseminatus - This usually forms a large cluster of small fruitbodies, with smooth to ever so slightly scurfy caps. It does not deliquesce, but it's quite pleated. Again, many American sequences are quite distinct from EU sequences, but so far, the OR sequence I have is closer to the EU sequences. It remains to be seen if any differences can be found in the American species or how commonly it will be found here.
Coprinellus disseminatus © Danny Miller
Coprinellus domesticus group - The particles are larger and resist wearing off a little more, but the main feature of these European species is an orange felty mat over the substrate. We have a good understanding of what C. domesticus is, but two other European species, Coprinellus radians and Coprinellus xanthothrix are poorly understood. There are perhaps a half dozen undescribed species in this complex in Europe, and so far I have found DNA of three undescribed species in the group here in the PNW. So far, there are no consistent ecological or morphological differences found between any of the these species, except for Coprinellus domesticus, which seems to be able to be identified somewhat reliably with a microscope, but we have not confirmed any of the named species from the PNW.
Coprinellus section /Domestici © Christian Schwarz
Coprinellus flocculosus - This European wood chip species has the largest felty patches on the cap, even larger than the above. Fred Van de Bogart (see my Coprinus page) described three species that have almost identical ITS DNA and are probably synonyms: Coprinus arachnoideus, Coprinus bubalinus and Coprinus alutaceivelatus. The latter two were later mistakenly placed in Coprinopsis, which is interesting, perhaps partially because large felty patches is usually a trait of Coprinopsis instead of the more particle-like veils of Coprinellus.
probable Coprinellus flocculosus © Christian Schwarz
Tulosesus - click to expand
This new genus is hard to characterize. Again, the usually pleated caps my deliquesce or they may just tatter. They are often golden brown, fading to grey in age except in the centre, but the eye on the disc won't usually be as distinct as in Parasola. The caps may be slightly granular, but do not usually have the mica particles or scales of the Coprinellus species above (more usually just very tiny hairs). They are not usually as finely pleated as Parasola. Segregated from Coprinellus.
Species mentioned: Tulosesus impatiens, heterosetulosus, hiascens, congregatus, ephemerus, sclerocystidiatus, eurysporus
The following European species are reported from the PNW, without genetic proof yet: Tulosesus impatiens, T. heterosetulosus, T. hiascens, T. congregatus and T. ephemerus. We need collections of all of these. I do have sequences of all of them from the EU to compare to, except for T. ephemerus, which has no reliable sequences yet. Once again, ironically, as in Parasola, the only local collection (from OR) sequenced turned out to be none of the above, but Tulosesus sclerocystidiatus.
Tulosesus sclerocystidiatus - this EU species varies by 1% or so in ITS, according to Wachter. One OR sequence matches some EU sequences very well. One WA sequence is about 1% different, and just outside the clade of EU sequences, but since that kind of variation exists within EU sequences, I'm comfortable calling our species that for now.
Tulosesus eurysporus is described from Oregon, so it is definitely here.
We have one environmental sample from OR that is a sister species, Tulosesus aff hiascens.
Tulosesus sclerocystidiatus © Richard Morrison
Coprinopsis - click to expand
Microscopically, the pileipellis is a cutis, which means the top layer of the cap has strings of cells laying flat. To the naked eye, they often have shaggy veil material on the cap, but not always, and so do some other genera occasionally. The caps are often greyish, and they usually completely deliquesce. The sizes can range from miniscule to very large (caps 1 mm to 10 cm).
Species mentioned: Coprinopsis atramentaria, atramentaria var. crassivelata, depressiceps, striata, pinguispora, acuminata, romagnesiana, strossmayeri, picacea, lagopus, lagopides, marcida, brunneistragulata, pachyderma, cinerea, fimetarius, friesii, nivea, stercorea, tetraspora, subdomestica, undulata, sylvicola, kubickae, phaeospora, psychromorbida, uliginicola, canoceps. Psathyrella longipes, fragilissima and elwahensis. Coprinus alnivorus.
Coprinopsis atramentaria - Alcohol inky (Coprinopsis depressiceps) - The most famous alcohol inky cap, with a large, grey cap with a broad to flat apex (not narrow and/or umbonate like Coprinopsis striata, below). The cap and lower stem may have some subtle dark scales. Fred Van de Bogart redescribed a collection with a depressed cap centre as Coprinopsis depressiceps, but the ITS type sequence is the same as the older EU species Coprinopsis atramentaria, so it is likely just a newer synonym, and the caps may get depressed. The alcohol inkies contain coprine, a substance with similar effects as disulfram (the active ingredient in antabuse) that make you quite sick if ingested when you have also ingested alcohol.
Coprinopsis striata - Alcohol inky (Coprinopsis pinguispora) - Very similar alcohol inky, but with a narrower and/or pointier cap and not quite as large. It is practically smooth with even fewer visible scales. Our local species was described by Fred from WA, and recent collections from OR, WA and BC of the "atramentaria group" were all this species, so it appears to be our common species. Fred also described Coprinopsis pinguispora a few pages later, but its type sequence is the same, so it is probably not a distinct species. It only differed by not having striations on the cap, which is probably a variable feature.
Coprinopsis acuminata is a sister EU species, with more normal shaped spores, which Fred also reported from the PNW, so it's possible it is here too and should be looked for.
Coprinopsis striata © NAMA and the Field Museum of Natural History
Coprinopsis romagnesiana - Alcohol inky (Coprinopsis atramentaria var. crassivelata) - This alcohol inky has coloured, orange-brown scales on the cap. The cap colour can be more brown than grey. It's an EU species that has been found and sequenced in WA three times now. Fred described Coprinus atramentarius var. crassivelata and said that alcohol inkies with patches of cap veil were that variety, but he did not know about or did not mention C. romagnesiana. We do not have a type sequence of this variety, but I think his var. crassivelata is a newer synonym.
Coprinopsis romagnesiana © Daniel Winkler
Coprinopsis strossmayeri - A largish, grey, clustered, narrow capped species (like C. striata) but covered in fine white scales. This European species has variable ITS DNA that varies by about 2.5% in Europe, but so far it's all considered one species. This species was not known in the PNW until one poisoning report in BC where the mushroom they ate was sequenced. Interestingly, it is not considered poisonous.
Coprinopsis picacea - A large, spectacularly mottled inky cap, with large, off white removable scales. Quite famous and common elsewhere in the world, but never reported here until found and sequenced recently in OR.
Coprinopsis picacea © Jonathan Frank
Coprinopsis lagopus group - These medium sized grey mushrooms, covered in shaggy white veil material, deliquesce in a matter of hours and are very short lived. They are so abundant, though, that they are still easy to find, even though any individual mushroom may not be around for longer than four hours or so (from sprouting to dissolving).
Reported from the PNW are Coprinopsis lagopus EU and Coprinopsis lagopides EU (and Coprinopsis marcida only known from Montana). Nobody really knows what the first two are; there are more than a half dozen genetic species that might be C. lagopus, for instance (numbered A through G by Wachter whose paper I talk about on the Psathyrella page in the introduction bibliogrphay).
Actually sequenced from the PNW are the types of Coprinopsis brunneistragulata (type WA, sister to the EU C. jonesii), and Coprinopsis pachyderma (type WA).
Two recent collections that have been sequenced (from Vancouver BC and Bridle Trails) were Coprinopsis lagopus F (Wachter's species #6 of 7). Perhaps that is our common species, but we need a lot more collections to find out which all species occur here and their relative commonality.
Coprinopsis lagopus group © Michael Beug and Richard Morrison
Coprinopsis cinerea (Coprinus fimetaria) - Both EU species Coprinopsis cinerea and Coprinopsis fimetarius are reported from the PNW, but they are now thought to be the same thing. C. cinerea is a short lived lookalike of C. lagopus but it grows on compost and dung and other very rich or decayed material. We have no local DNA to prove its presence here yet; we need collections.
Coprinopsis cinerea var. depressa - Not yet officially moved to Coprinopsis, this is a locally described (from WA) variety that differs by the shape of the spores. It definitely occurs here, but we don't have a type sequence to know what it is, or if it is just a variety or a valid species of its own.
Coprinopsis cf friesii - A small purplish-grey grass coprinoid with floccose veil material on the cap, that unlike the C. lagopus group, tatters more than it deliquesces. We have neither reliable EU sequences nor local sequences to know if that's what we have.
Coprinopsis friesii © Steve Trudell
Coprinopsis subdomestica - This FL mushroom is kind of a cross between Coprinopsis lagopus and Coprinellus flocculosus, with a warm brown and grey cap covered in thick veil material. It was not known from the PNW until sequenced in OR, matching the type sequence.
Coprinopsis subdomestica © Jonathan Frank
Coprinopsis nivea - This fairly small (<2.5 cm) sized white inky grows on dung. It is an EU species with a bit variable ITS DNA (differing by a few positions even in the EU) also found in the PNW.
Coprinopsis nivea © Julie Jones
Coprinopsis cf stercorea - This miniscule (>=3 mm) white European species may be what we find locally on dung, but we need a local sequence to find out if that's what our species is or if it's something else.
Coprinopsis cf stercorea © Danny Miller
Coprinopsis tectispora - Described from WA from a greenhouse, this smallish (1-2 cm) pale grey species (covered in shaggy veil material) has never been photographed in colour, so we need photos to understand it better. We have the type sequence.
Coprinus alnivorus (proposed new name: Coprinopsis alnivora) - This is one of the only species that was not recombined correctly by Scott Redhead et. al. when Coprinus was split into Parasola, Coprinellus and Coprinopsis. It has a ring (it is a small, pale species on wood) and that was thought to be an indication of a true Coprinus, but the more important features don't match (it doesn't have a thread running through the stem and it does have pleurocystidia). We have the WA type sequence, but it's never been found since.
Coprinopsis undulata WA / Coprinopsis sylvicola OR - Two more local species that we have type sequences of. They are real distinct genetic species, somewhat like the Coprinopsis lagopus group, but I don't really know how to recognize them and they have not been recognized since described, and therefore not photographed. C. undulata is said to be a compost species with thin white veil material on the cap that doesn't come off as easily by itself as some other species. C. sylvicola is a forest species with red-brown instead of white universal veil material.
Coprinopsis cf kubickae/phaeospora/psychromorbida - Small whitish species (<1 cm or even <5 mm) on vegetation, with subtle brownish scales. These EU species were reported from the PNW, but no collections have been sequenced (or even photographed), so we need some collections to find out if we really do have them here. We have EU sequences of the first, but there are no reliable sequences of the other two yet to compare to.
Coprinopsis uliginicola/canoceps and Psathyrella longipes group (P. longipes, fragilissima and elwahensis) - These do not deliquesce at all and until recently were thought to be Psathyrellas. They are described in detail on that page under "Non-inky Inky Caps".
Coprinopsis uliginicola © Kit Scates Barnhart, C. canoceps © Alan Rockefeller, 'Psathyrella' longipes group © Noah Siegel
Narcissea - click to expand
Microscopically, these don't quite match Coprinopsis nor Coprinellus, but they look more like Coprinopsis, so that's where they used to be placed. Genetically, they turned out to be very closely related to Coprinellus, which is interesting. That definitely qualifies them for their own genus. The pileipellis is not a cutis, there are some spherical universal veil cells on the cap but there are no pileocystidia. The spores are strongly flattened with a polygonal outline. Sorry, but that's the definition of this genus. Luckily, we don't need to worry about that since we are not known to have any species here.
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