Systematics of Gyroporus

Naveed Davoodian

Gyroporus is a group of ectomycorrhizal fungi with representatives on every major continent except Antarctica. They mutualistically associate with an array of plant species, including members of Pinaceae, Myrtaceae, Phyllanthaceae, and many other plant families. In addition to functioning as mycorrhizal symbionts in forest ecosystems, Gyroporus species are important as wild edible mushrooms. Consumed primarily in countries where mushroom foraging is a significant cultural pastime, most species are known edibles. However, at least one species (G. ammophilus) is toxic, having previously been misidentified as an edible taxon that is superficially similar. Cases like this, where a lack of information regarding species limits can have serious consequences, highlight the need for careful systematic studies.

Despite a long history of formal recognition and research, finer details regarding Gyroporus diversity have yet to be elucidated. This is primarily because many of the taxa represent widespread species complexes, complicating studies on the genus. For my dissertation, I am using classical taxonomic and modern phylogenetic approaches to discover new species and infer relationships within Gyroporus. Morphological, molecular, and biogeographic data are providing novel insights into the evolution of these fungi and their relatives. Specimens are being sampled on a global scale, with recent fieldwork emphasizing Australia, North America, and East Asia.

In some species of Gyroporus, flesh turns blue when the mushrooms are cut or broken.