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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #307090

Title: True morels (Morchella, Pezizales) of Europe and North America: evolutionary relationships inferred from multilocus data and a unified taxonomy

item RICHARD, FRANCK - University Of Montpellier
item BELLANGER, JEAN-MICHEL - University Of Montpellier
item SAUVE, MATHIEU - University Of Montpellier
item CLOWEZ, PHILIPPE - Collaborator
item HANSEN, KAREN - The Swedish Museum Of Natural History
item O Donnell, Kerry
item URBAN, ALEXANDER - University Of Vienna
item COURTECUISSE, REGIS - Université Lille Nord De France
item MOREAU, PIERRE-ARTHUR - Université Lille Nord De France

Submitted to: Mycologia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/12/2014
Publication Date: 3/1/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Richard, F., Bellanger, J., Clowez, P., Hansen, K., O'Donnell, K., Urban, A., Sauve, M., Courtecuisse, R., Moreau, P. 2015. True morels (Morchella, Pezizales) of Europe and North America: evolutionary relationships inferred from multilocus data and a unified taxonomy. Mycologia. 107(2):359-382.

Interpretive Summary: True morels (Morchella) are among the most widely recognized and highly prized wild edible mushrooms. To meet increasing demand, commercial harvesting has become a highly lucrative industry in several countries, including the United States. However, accurate information on species diversity and distribution is required to insure that annual harvests of morels are sustainable. Towards this end, we have used DNA sequence data to investigate morel species diversity and distributions within North America and Europe. We discovered that the number of morel species in North America (n = 22) is comparable to that in Europe (n = 21), and that only a few species are found on both continents. Because uncertainty exists over what scientific name to apply to most of the species, phylogenetically informative DNA sequence data was obtained from type specimens to determine what names should be accepted for the morels sampled. Through this research, we were able to apply names to all but three of the species from North America and Europe. Being able to accurately refer to morels by their scientific name will help foster the conservation biology of this invaluable genetic resource. This research will be of interest to a wide range of agricultural scientists, foresters, conservation biologists, and mycologists.

Technical Abstract: Applying early names, 29 with or without original material, to genealogical species is challenging. For morels this task is especially difficult because of high morphological stasis and high plasticity of apothecium color and shape. Here, we propose a nomenclatural revision of true morels (Morchella, Pezizales) from Europe and North America, based on molecular phylogenetic analyses of portions of the RPB1, RPB2, and EF-1a genes and ITS-LSU rDN from 107 newly sequenced collections from both continents, including 48 types, together with previously published sequences. Names are applied to 30 of the 65 currently recognized genealogical species. Results of the present study revealed that the number of Morchella species in Europe (n = 21) is nearly identical to that in North America (n = 22). Only seven species were found on both continents, consistent with previous reports of high continental endemism within the genus. Presently it is not possible to tell whether the transoceanic disjunctions were due to human activities, migration across a Bering land bridge or long distance dispersal. In an effort to stabilize the taxonomy, due in part to the recent publication of synonyms for 11 of the species, accepted names are presented together with their corresponding later synonyms. A new subclade that includes the holotypes of M. castanea and M. brunneorosea is identified in sect. Morchella (Esculenta Clade). Here are designated lectotypes for Morchella sect. Distantes, M. deliciosa, M. eximia, and M. tridentina, as well as epitypes for M. dunalii, M. eximia, M. purpurascens, and M. vulgaris. Morchella conica as proposed by Persoon was determined to be illegitimate at the rank of species. Additionally further research is required to determine the identity of M. elata and M. inamoena. The NCBI GenBank and Morchella MLST ( databases were updated to reflect the revised taxonomy.