Citizen Science Alert - Leotiomycetes Fungi

We are all eagerly anticipating the emergence of one of our favorite ascomycete fungi - morels (Morchella spp.). Some other ascomycetes that many mushrooms hunters are familiar with and that we can be found in the spring are the false morels (Gyromitra spp.), elfin saddles (Helvella spp.), and true truffles (Tuber spp.), not to mention lichenized fungi. However, did you know that the phylum Ascomycota is the most diverse group of fungi and there are actually many, many more ascomycetes that one can find in the woods? Except for a single genus (Neolecta spp.), the ascomycetes that produce macroscpic fruiting bodies (ascocarps) are entirely in the subphylum Pezizomycotina, which in turn is composed of over a dozen taxonomic classes.

One of these classes, the Leotiomycetes, is currently undergoing comprehensive phylogenetic revision by an international group of mycologists. You might be familiar with a few fungi in this class. Have you ever noticed those black tar spots on maple leaves? That is the Leotiomycetes fungus Rhytisma acerinum. Another lovely Leotiomycetes fungus that you may be acquainted with is the lemon discos, Bisporella citrina. Finally, I'd be remiss if I failed to to mention the eponymous genus of the class, the jelly babies, like Leotia lubrica. In short, you may not have been aware that you are actually already familiar with some Leotiomycetes fungi.

There are a whole lot more Leotiomycetes fungi and we need your help finding them. The goal is to DNA sequence 15 genes from as many Leotiomycetes fungi as possible to get as comprehensive DNA sequence coverage for the class to better understand its evolutionary history and taxonomy. To be clear, we do not need specimens of the more common species mentioned above (Rhytisma acerinum, Bisporella citrina, or Leotia lubrica), but representatives from any of the following groups would contribute greatly to this endeavor:

There's something for everybody in this list: cup fungi, plant pathogens, and many other unique shapes and ecologies. One of my favorite ways to go mushroom hunting is to have a specific target. It motives me and excites me. Even if I don't find the thing I am looking for, I end up spotting lots of other intersting fungi, plants, and critters that make the experience worthwhile. Please contact me, Alden Dirks, or Danny Haelewaters on iNaturalist if you find any of these fungi or if you are interested in learning more about this project.

Posted by aldendirks aldendirks, April 03, 2020 15:22



I'll be on the lookout for some of these if I can get out! Is there a particular time period for this?

Posted by rayquazasaur 4 months ago (Flag)

Great, thanks @rayquazasaur ! This is an ongoing project still very much in data-collection phase, so there isn't a particular time period (or deadline) as of yet for finding these, and representatives of these fungi can be found probably all year long, even in the winter.

Posted by aldendirks 4 months ago (Flag)
Posted by jacobjm 4 months ago (Flag)

I’ll post all I can.

Posted by thunderhead 4 months ago (Flag)
Posted by mycowalt 4 months ago (Flag)

We will probably be posting a more formal Leotiomycetes project with a "most wanted" list of blind spots within the class that we are specifically looking for to include in our dataset, but this is a great start. Thanks, @aldendirks, for posting this!

Posted by dhaelewa 4 months ago (Flag)

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