Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Albatrellaceae 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.
Albatrellus was a genus of
Exceptions are the felty brown capped and iodine smelling Jahnoporus and the blackening Boletopsis, which are not related, and the somewhat related Bondarzewia, which is often but not always found on wood. Another important exception is Albatrellus syringae, now known as Xanthoporus syringae, with a brown cap and yellow pores. It was thought to be an Albatrellus (because it really does seem like one) but DNA studies showed that it was not in the Russulales at all, but found with most other polypores in the Polyporales.
The genus was split up recently into a number of new genera, but that is problematic. It's very difficult to tell the genera apart without learning each species and memorizing which genus it is. Ideally, a genus would be easy to recognize on sight without microscopic characters being necessary to differentiate them. The alternative, to continue to call them all Albatrellus, is not very problematic. The genetic group that includes all of Albatrellus also includes Polyporoletus, which is already difficult to differentiate from Albatrellus, a pored crust, Byssoporia, and some false truffles, Fevansia, Mycolevis, Leucophleps and Leucogaster. It's already very common for crusts and truffle-like fungi to be placed into the genus of the more "normal" looking mushrooms they are closely related to.
Here are all the species of Albatrellus sensu lato (s.l.), meaning Albatrellus considered in its "wide sense", except for Xanthoporus (Albatrellus) syringae, which turned out to be no kind of Albatrellus at all. That is found in the Polyporales and can definitely no longer be thought of as an Albatrellus.
Albatrellus s.l. - click to expand
Species mentioned: Albatrellus ovinus, avellaneus, subrubescens. Albatrellopsis confluens, flettii. Neoalbatrellus subcaeruleoporus. Scutiger ellisii, pes-caprae. Xeroceps skamania. Xanthoporus syringae. Polypus dispansus. Polyporoletus sylvestris, sublividus, bulbosus.
Albatrellus ovinus/avellaneus/subrubescens - These three closely related species can be pale yellow capped to dark brown, but stain noticeably yellow where cut or in age. The caps may get slightly scaly, but not at all like Scutiger. They are hard to tell apart and common as a group although some are undoubtedly rarer than others. They can be easily confused with other species like Xeroceps skamania unless the yellow staining is noticed (it has just started on some of the caps in the upper left of the first photo).
Albatrellus ovinus is a European species with many samples of DNA from Europe and local specimens matching. It is found here from Oregon through Alaska.
Albatrellus avellaneus is described from California, and I have sequences from Oregon and Washington.
Albatrellus subrubescens is described from Florida. Two sequences from Oregon (and several sequences that appear to be from Europe) are 4 bp and 2 indels different than two sequences from Florida (but neither are the type sequence) so it's possible we have that species or a sister species here. This needs more study.
Albatrellus avellaneus © Michael Beug and A and O Ceska, Albatrellus ovinus © Jonathan Frank
Albatrellopsis confluens is a European orange-brown capped species.
Albatrellus flettii, described from Washington, is a common beautiful blue capped species (with white pores), at least when fresh, although the blue may fade and then they look identical, including microscopically.
In fact, they may be identical. European ITS DNA of A. confluens matches local sequences of A. flettii exactly. For some reason, it is never blue in the EU, but almost always starts out blue in the PNW (and the few times it wasn't was perhaps because it was found old and already faded). If it's decided that it's just one species, A. confluens is a much older name. We need to study more genes than just ITS and look for other differences. Is starting out blue enough of a difference to keep our own species name?
Albatrellopsis flettii © Bryce Kendrick, Danny Miller and Danny Miller, the blue fading to orange-brown.
Neoalbatrellus subcaeruleoporus - This species described from Washington is also easily recognized by its bright blue pores as well as cap. It is much smaller (<5 cm) than Albatrellopsis flettii (5-20 cm) and stays consistently blue.
Neoalbatrellopsis subcaeruleoporus © Ian Gibson
Scutiger cf ellisii - This species has a brown scaly cap that is yellow in places, but most noticeably stains green wherever handled. No other genus in the family will get this scaly. It was described from New Jersey. The two sequences we have, from Idaho and Wyoming, do not match (2% different), so I would like to see sequences from the east coast and more local sequences to ensure that we have the same species as back east.
Scutiger cf pes-caprae is a European species rarely reported here that is identical except for not staining green. We don't have any local DNA so we need samples to ensure that this European species really does occur here (Europe actually does have a genetically different non-staining species this time, unlike for Albatrellopsis flettii). As you can see from the photo, the greening of Scutiger ellisii can be very subtle and easily missed.
Scutiger cf ellisii © Danny Miller
Xeroceps skamania - This dark brown capped species is smooth to slightly felty, and may crack in age, but is not scaly like Scutiger. The pores are yellowish even when young, they don't stain yellow. It was described from Skamania Washington, but the DNA has now been found in Oregon too, at least at Breitenbush. This species is probably most easily mistaken for Xanthoporus syringae, the yellow-brown capped and yellowish pored former Albatrellus that is actually in the Polyporales order.
Xeroceps skamania © Janet Lindgren
Polypus cf dispansus - This species is easily recognized by its crazy cluster of rosettes of small yellow-brown caps. It was described from Japan. A sequence from Costa Rica and a sequence from Oregon are about 10% different from each other, so we probably have several species in the genus Polypus worldwide, and no way to know if ours is Polypus dispansus or needs a new name until we get DNA from Japan.
Polypus cf dispansus © Steve Trudell
Polyporoletus sylvestris - This rare genus is best recognized by interesting greyish lilac pores that look very pastel to me. The cap is usually yellow-brown when I find it. It was described from BC and the one sequence from BC is 4 bp and 4 indels different from the four Washington sequences we have, which all match each other. So it would be nice to get more BC sequences to make sure there is only one species here. The existence of a separate name for west coast specimens from east coast specimens was overlooked for years, possibly because the west coast name wasn't included in Gilbertson's popular polypore book, so every local collection has been called Polyporoletus sublividus, the east coast name, until 2010, when Audet reminded everyone that not only was there a name for west coast specimens, but west coast collections were morphologically and ecologically distinct from east coast collections, so there really are two species and we need to use our name for our collections. They are not P. sublividus. He was unable to get east coast sequences to prove the genetic differences, so we need eastern samples, but with the morpho and eco differences, I expect it will be proven.
'Polyporoletus' bulbosus is a similar local species, described from Washington. It has a bulbous stem and is more likely to grow solitary than P. sylvestris. Its DNA is quite different from anything else in this family and although it strongly resembles Polyporoletus, it likely needs its own genus name. It is very rare, only known from the type collection from Mt. Rainier in 1948.
Polyporoletus sylvestris © Paul Kroeger
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