Matthew Foltz, a mycologist working at the herbarium on a project to digitize the fungal collection, has recently described three new species of prized-edible chanterelle mushrooms from the midwestern United States. The three species were formerly masquerading under the name Cantharellus cibariusFr., a species originally described from Europe in 1821, which is no longer believed to occur in North America. The newly described species can be distinguished from other chanterelles using morphological characteristics and molecular tools, as well as geographical and ecological differences.
Cantharellus phasmatis M.J. Foltz & T.J. Volk (phasmatis meaning ghostly) is distinguished morphologically by having a white stalk and white hymenium (the fertile surface on the underside of the cap) and a pink spore deposit (Fig. 1a). Cantharellus flavus M.J. Foltz & T.J. Volk (flavus meaning yellow) is distinguished morphologically by having a yellow stalk and yellow hymenium, and a slightly more slender form than C. phasmatis (Fig. 1b). It also has a bright yellow spore deposit. Cantharellus spectaculus M.J. Foltz & T.J. Volk (spectaculus meaning spectacular) has a smaller and more slender form than both the aforementioned taxa, and has an orange stalk and an orange-salmon colored hymenium that occasionally has a purple tinge to it (Fig. 1c). The spores of this species are pink in deposit, but differ from C. phasmatis spores in that they are larger and a slightly different shape.
All three newly described taxa are mycorrhizal symbionts growing in association with hardwood trees, particularly oak. Their distinction as new species is supported with molecular sequence data from three loci, nLSU, ITS, and TEF1 regions. The molecular data suggest that C. phasmatis and C. flavus are sister species that share a most recent common ancestor with a chanterelle from the southern United States,Cantharellus tenuithrix Buyck & Hofstetter. The data also suggest that a recently described species from the Pacific Northwest, Cantharellus roseocanus Redhead, Norvell & Moncalvo, may have broad distribution throughout the northern United States in association with its coniferous symbiont hosts (Fig. 1d). The molecular data in this study show that Cantharellus roseocanus is the closest North American relative to C. cibarius from Europe. More molecular work needs to be done to determine if the conifer-associated chanterelles in the Midwest and Eastern United States are the same species as C. roseocanus, or unique species of their own.
This research is published in the March-April edition of the Mycological Society of America's peer-reviewed journal, Mycologia. The article is available online at this webpage:http://www.mycologia.org/content/105/2/447