Photos: © C.F.I.A., Sharmin Gamiet

brief notes on
macrofungus taxonomy

Classifying organisms into a hierarchical system indicates the degree of similarity among them. All ectomycorrhizal fungi belong to the kingdom Fungi (they are neither photosynthetic, nor seed producing) and the division Eumycota (they are not amaeboid or plasmodial) are typically mycelial or unicellular. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are separated into the subdivisions Ascomycotina if they produce spores inside an ascus, the Basidiomycotina if they have clamp connections and spores that are produced externally on a basidium, or the Deuteromycotina if they lack a sexual stage.

All ectomycorrhizal fungi found in this study belong to the subdivision Basidiomycotina. The Basidiomycotina is divided into 3 different classes, the Teliomycetes (rusts and smuts), Phragmobasidiomycetes (most jelly fungi), and the Holobasidiomycetes (mushrooms and allies). Fungi belonging to the Holobasidiomycetes have one-celled, club shaped basidia and are divided into the classes Gasteromycetes and Hymenomycetes. The Gasteromycetes, such as truffles and puffballs, have basidia and spores that develop enclosed in fungal tissue and the spores are not forcibly discharged. Fungi, such as mushrooms, boletes, corals etc. belong to the Hymenomycetes, have basidia and spores that develop externally and spores that are forcibly discharged allowing for a spore print to be obtained. The colour of the spore print is important in mushroom identification.

The Hymenomycetes are divided into different orders, which are then divided into families and then further divided into genera. Fungi with lamellae (mushrooms) and fungi with tubes that are easily separated from the pileus (boletes) are found in the order Agaricales. Another common order in the Hymenomycetes is the Aphyllophorales, which is a large, and variable order consisting of fungi without lamellae (chanterelles, corals, hedgehog fungi). Within both of these orders are a number of different families.

Fungi reported here, belong to 2 orders, 9 families and 15 genera. In the order Agaricales are the families Amanitaceae (genus Amanita), Boletaceae (genus Boletus), Cortinariaceae (genera Cortinarius, Inocybe, Phaeocollybia, Rozites), Gomphidiaceae (genus Chroogomphus), Hygrophoraceae (genus Hygrophorus), Russulaceae (genera Lactarius and Russula) and Tricholomataceae (genera Laccaria and Tricholoma). In the order Aphyllophorales are the families Cantharellaceae (genera Craterellus, Gomphus), Hydnaceae (genus Hydnum).

Further Readings:

Arora, D. 1986. Mushrooms Demystified. Ten Speed Press. Berkeley, Ca. pp 958.

Largent, D. 1986. How to identify mushrooms to genus I: Macroscopic Features. Mad River Press. Eureka, Ca., pp 166.

Moser, M. 1983. Keys to Agarics and Boleti (Polyporales, Boletales, Agaricales, Russulales). Roger Phillips. London. Eng. Pp. 535.