Systematics of the Hysterangiaceae

In collaboration with Wes Colgan and Mike Castellano

Hysterangiaceae is a family of basidiomycetes that produce their sporocarps below ground and are often referred to as hypogeous or false-truffles. There are approximately 20 genera in the family with the largest being Hysterangium. Species of Hysterangium are distributed worldwide and are important ectomycorrhizae of Pinaceae, Fagaceae and Myrtaceae. Many species of Hysterangium form what are referred to as perennial ectomycorrhizal mats, which are long-lived and penetrate into the mineral layer of soil. These mats have been shown to be significant components of mature and old-growth forests and are directly involved in seedling establishment.

The relationship of the Hysterangiaceae to other major groups of basidiomycetes is unclear. The Hysterangiaceae is generally classified as being either closely related to the boletoid fungi (Boletales) or the Stink Horns (Phallales). In order to address this question and others pertaining to the systematics and evolution of the Hysterangiaceae, we have constructed preliminary data sets of the nuclear and mitochondrial LSU rDNA sequences for species from several genera in the Hysterangiaceae and several genera of Stink Horns. Our results strongly support the placement of Hysterangiaceae in the Phallales; we have also identified other genera of false-truffles, which are currently not considered closely related to the Phallales. More to come.

To observe some images of Hysterangium and related fungi click here.