How diverse are groups of obligate plant associated fungi in various forests and what can these patterns tell us about evolutionary history?
The goals of this project include elucidating the distribution and diversity of ectomycorrhizal plant hosts and their fungi in tropical rainforests. In particular I focus on the fungal genus Clavulina and relatives in the Cantharellales (Basidiomycota). Clavulina is distributed globally and associates with multiple hosts but exhibits hyper-diversity in the neotropics based on current collection and molecular data. The project involves collecting and preserving fruiting bodies (mushrooms), identifying them in the field and in lab, and describing new species including generating DNA barcode sequences. At the community level we sequence amplicon barcodes from soil and colonized root tips to identify what fungi are present.
This project is aimed at documenting the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal diversity in tropical rainforests. Our study sights include the central Guiana Shield (Guyana) in South America, and the Congo basin in Cameroon in Africa. In these locations we combine surveys, collections, and taxonomic descriptions with below ground molecular-based sampling to assess ECM fungal diversity. My expertise is in systematics and molecular ecology of the mushroom genus Clavulina (Basidiomycota, Cantharellales) and relatives. Below you will find images of recently described and undescribed Clavulina species and relatives that I described, sequenced, and illustrated. You can see photos from previous expeditions in the Mycologists at work page and short documentary films in the videos. This NSF funded research endeavor is led by Drs. Terry Henkel and Cathie Aime.
GUYANA STUDY SITE
In Guyana, we study ECM fungi associated with plant hosts in the following families; Caesalpinioideae, Dipterocarpaceae, Polygonaceae, Nyctaginaceae, and Gnetaceae. The primary host plant is a caesalpiniod legume, Dicymbe corymbosa. There are over 300 taxa of ECM fungi in the area based on molecular and sporocarp (mushroom) based data, a complete taxon list is available here. Our research team has worked to describe many of these species yet, they are far outnumbered by undescribed species in the region. You can find much more information about the project, fungi, collaborators, and host plants at tropicalfungi.org.
CAMEROON STUDY SITE
In August-September of 2017 we visited the Dja Wildlife Reserve to collect ECM sporocarps and root tips. Many ECM host plants related to those found in the Guiana shield region are present in Cameroon (Gilbertiodendron, Caesalpinoidae, Legmuninaceae), where they host relatives of Guyanese fungi (Clavulina species and many others). An open research question I am interested in is what drives global diversity distribution patterns in ECM fungal taxa such as Clavulina.
NEW SPECIES & RANGE DESCRIPTIONS
Clavulina kunmudlutse T.W. Henkel et Aime, sp. nov.
Clavulina nigricans T.W. Henkel et Aime
Clavulina amazonensis Corner
Clavulina sprucei (Berk.) Corner
Clavulina cerebriformis Uehling, Aime et T.W. Henkel, sp. nov.
Clavulina cinereoglebosa Uehling, Aime et T.W. Henkel, sp. nov.
Clavulina effusa Uehling, Aime et T.W. Henkel, sp. nov.
Clauvlina rosiramea Uehling, T.W. Henkel et Aime
Clavulina pakaraimensis Uehling, T.W. Henkel et Aime