Danny’s DNA Discoveries – Hericiaceae 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.
Hericium - click to expand
Hericium are easy to recognize as a large bundle of "icicles" attached to wood and hanging down.
Species mentioned: Hericium abietis, americanum, coralloides, erinaceus, alpestre
Hericium abietis - This western North American species is our most abundant species, found on conifers. It has clumps of spines all over.
Hericium abietis © Steve Trudell
Hericium americanum - This very similar eastern North American species is reported uncommonly here on hardwoods, but we need local sequences to prove they are being identified correctly. Amazingly, it has the same ITS DNA as the very different looking Hericium erinaceus and cannot be told apart by only sequencing that one gene. It used to be called Hericium coralloides until it was finally determined that European species is actually something that looks quite different, as explained below.
possible Hericium americanum © Michael Beug
Hericium aff coralloides - This hardwood species has its spines arranged in rows along its branches, like a comb.
Our local species is genetically distinct from the European sequences, but worldwide sequences vary only by 3% or less, so it's hard to say if this is one genetically diverse species worldwide or if it will be split into multiple species requiring ours to get a new name. We only have one local sequence and should get more local collections to see how much genetic diversity there is in our area, to help answer that question.
Hericium aff coralloides © Michael Beug
Hericium erinaceus - The most famous species in the genus, the European Lion's Mane, has all of its spines in a single, tight ball. It can grow on hardwoods here in the PNW as well.
Amazingly, the ITS DNA is in the same narrow range as Hericium americanum and its European conifer lookalike species Hericium alpestre.
Hericium erinaceus © Michael Beug
Dentipellis cf fragilis - This is a crust fungus with teeth sticking straight up. Although numerous crust fungi have teeth, in families all over the genetic tree, Dentipellis has the longest teeth, usually sticking up at least 1 cm. Rarely reported, but probably not that rare.
We need a local sequence to determine if our species is the same as the European species.
Dentipellis cf fragilis © Kim Traverse
Laxitextum 'coffeatum'? (aff. bicolor EU) - This is a surprising relative, as it is not dentoid at all, but remember that many families in the fungal tree of life have crusts in them. It is rare, but fairly easy to identify, usually having a dark brown, slightly hairy cap with a pale rim, and a smooth to bumpy white underside. It is often softer than most, but still tough, being monomitic (without the skeletal hyphae of the tougher dimitic polypores and crusts).
Long assumed to be Laxitextum bicolor, our one OR sequence is 7 bp and 1 indel different than most EU sequences of that EU species. Our sequence matches one other sequence that may be from eastern North America. If so, this implies that the NA species could be unique. Stereum coffeatum was described from North America but synonymized with Laxitextum bicolor. If indeed our species is unique, the name Laxitextum coffeatum is available for it.
'Laxitextum' 'coffeatum' © Bruce Newhouse
Summary of Future Studies Needed - click to expand
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