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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research

Title: Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States

item Kuo, Michael
item Dewsbury, Damon
item O`donnell, Kerry
item Carter, M. Carol
item Rehner, Stephen
item Moore, John David
item Moncalvo, Jean-marc
item Canfield, Stephen
item Stephenson, Steven
item Methven, Andrew
item Volk, Thomas

Submitted to: Mycologia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/9/2012
Publication Date: 4/1/2012
Citation: Kuo, M., Dewsbury, D.R., O'Donnell, K., Carter, M., Rehner, S.A., Moore, J., Moncalvo, J., Canfield, S.A., Stephenson, S.L., Methven, A.S., Volk, T.J. 2012. Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States. Mycologia. 104(5):1159-1177.

Interpretive Summary: True morels (Morchella) are one of the most widely recognized and intensively collected wild edible fungi within North America and other morel-rich countries within the Northern Hemisphere. Their extraordinary popularity is due in part to their short fruiting season of several weeks each spring. Although most field guides list five or fewer species of true morels, and assume that species are distributed across continents, several recent molecular genetic studies have shown that most species are restricted to eastern or western North America, or Europe or Asia. In the present study we describe 19 species from North America, 14 of which are new. Knowledge of their geographic distribution and genetic diversity should help in identifying species that can be cultivated on a commercial scale. Towards this end, pure cultures of most of the species were obtained and are stored in the ARS Culture Collection (NRRL) where they are available for distribution. In addition, the results of this study should help conservation biologists and foresters formulate sound conservation policies that ensure morel harvests are sustainable.

Technical Abstract: Recent molecular phylogenetic studies by Taskin et al. (Fungal Genet. Biol. 47:672-682. 2010; Mycologia [in press]) and O'Donnell et al. (Fungal Genet. Biol. 48:252-265. 2011) revealed the existence of at least 50 species of Morchella worldwide and demonstrated a high degree of continental endemism within the genus. Here we describe 19 phylogenetic species of Morchella from North America, 14 of which are new (M. diminutiva, M. virginiana, M. esculentoides, M. prava, M. cryptica, M. frustrata, M. populiphila, M. sextelata, M. septimelata, M. capitata, M. importuna, M. snyderi, M. brunnea, and M. septentrionalis). Existing species names (M. rufobrunnea, M. tomentosa, M. punctipes, and M. angusticeps) are applied to four phylogenetic species, and formal description of one species (M. sp. "Mel-8") is deferred pending study of additional material. Methods for assessing morphological features in Morchella are delineated, and a key to the known phylogenetic species of Morchella in North America is provided. Type studies of M. crassistipa, M. hotsonii, M. angusticeps, and M. punctipes are provided. Morchella crassistipa is designated as a nomen dubium.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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