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quarta-feira, março 16, 2011

Genetic Analysis Reveals History, Evolution of an Ancient Delicacy -- Morels

ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2011) — Dinosaurs squashed them with impunity. Thousands of species that lacked culinary appreciation have turned up their noses at them. And a study based on advanced DNA analysis has shown that this shameful indifference went on for 129 million years.

Blond morel. (Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University)

Finally, however, one animal species came along that would learn to appreciate this particular fungus with almost a global reverence -- homo sapiens. Thus was born the human affection for the morel -- for millions of people around the world, it's what you mean when you say "mushroom hunting."

Spring is coming soon, and with it the timeless quest for morels. For some, it's almost a way of life.

Nancy Weber, a researcher with the College of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, has had a lifelong love affair with the morel.

Her parents took her on her first mushroom hunt in the Michigan woods at the age of six months. Presumably they sat her down in front of a morel, wiped the drool from the corner of her mouth and said, "Now pay attention, Nancy. This is important. This is what you look for."

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: Science Daily


Fungal Genetics and Biology

Volume 48, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 252-265 

Copyright © 2010 Published by Elsevier Inc.

Phylogeny and historical biogeography of true morels (Morchella) reveals an early Cretaceous origin and high continental endemism and provincialism in the Holarctic

Kerry O’Donnell a, Alejandro P. Rooney a, Gary L. Mills b, Michael Kuo c, Nancy S. Weber d and Stephen A. Rehner e

a Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens and Mycology Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 1815 North University Street, Peoria, IL 61604, United States

b Diversified Natural Products, Scottville, MI 49454, United States

c Department of English, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920, United States

d Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, United States

e Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD 20705, United States

Received 15 June 2010; 
accepted 21 September 2010. 
Available online 30 September 2010. 


True morels (Morchella, Ascomycota) are arguably the most highly-prized of the estimated 1.5 million fungi that inhabit our planet. Field guides treat these epicurean macrofungi as belonging to a few species with cosmopolitan distributions, but this hypothesis has not been tested. Prompted by the results of a growing number of molecular studies, which have shown many microbes exhibit strong biogeographic structure and cryptic speciation, we constructed a 4-gene dataset for 177 members of the Morchellaceae to elucidate their origin, evolutionary diversification and historical biogeography. Diversification time estimates place the origin of the Morchellaceae in the middle Triassic 243.63 (95% highest posterior density [HPD] interval: 169.35–319.89) million years ago (Mya) and the divergence of Morchella from its closest relatives in the early Cretaceous 129.61 (95% HPD interval: 90.26–173.16) Mya, both within western North America. Phylogenetic analyses identified three lineages withinMorchella: a basal monotypic lineage represented by Morchella rufobrunnea, and two sister clades comprising the black morels (Elata Clade, 26 species) and yellow morels (Esculenta Clade, 16 species). Morchella possesses a Laurasian distribution with 37/41 species restricted to the Holarctic. All 33 Holarctic species represented by multiple collections exhibited continental endemism. Moreover, 16/18 North American and 13/15 Eurasian species appeared to exhibit provincialism. Although morel fruit bodies produce thousands of explosively discharged spores that are well suited to aerial dispersal, our results suggest that they are poorly adapted at invading novel niches. Morels also appear to have retained the ancestral fruit body plan, which has remained remarkably static since the Cretaceous.

Keywords: Ascomycota; Biodiversity; Conservation biology; DNA sequence; Fungi; Range evolution


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