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Solving the taxonomic identity of Pseudotomentella tristis s.l. (Thelephorales, Basidiomycota) – a multi-gene phylogeny and taxonomic review, integrating ecological and geographical data

Svantesson, Sten; Larsson, Karl-Henrik; Kõljalg, Urmas; May, Tom W.; Cangren, Patrik; Nilsson, R. Henrik; Larsson, Ellen

P. tristis is an ectomycorrhizal, corticioid fungus whose name is frequently assigned to collections of basidiomata as well as root tip and soil samples from a wide range of habitats and hosts across the northern hemisphere. Despite this, its identity is unclear; eight heterotypic taxa have in major reviews of the species been considered synonymous with or morphologically similar to P. tristis, but no sequence data from type specimens have been available.

With the aim to clarify the taxonomy, systematics, morphology, ecology and geographical distribution of P. tristis and its morphologically similar species, we studied their type specimens as well as 147 basidiomata collections of mostly North European material.

We used gene trees generated in BEAST 2 and PhyML and species trees estimated in STACEY and ASTRAL to delimit species based on the ITS, LSU, Tef1α and mtSSU regions. We enriched our sampling with environmental ITS sequences from the UNITE database.

We found the P. tristis group to contain 13 molecularly and morphologically distinct species. Three of these, P. tristis, P. umbrina and P. atrofusca, are already known to science, while ten species are here described as new: P. sciastra sp. nov., P. tristoides sp. nov., P. umbrinascens sp. nov., P. pinophila sp. nov., P. alnophila sp. nov., P. alobata sp. nov., P. pluriloba sp. nov., P. abundiloba sp. nov., P. rotundispora sp. nov. and P. media sp. nov.

We discovered P. rhizopunctata and P. atrofusca to form a sister clade to all other species in P. tristis s.l. These two species, unlike all other species in the P. tristis complex, are dimitic.

In this study, we designate epitypes for P. tristis, P. umbrina and Hypochnopsis fuscata and lectotypes for Auricularia phylacteris and Thelephora biennis. We show that the holotype of Hypochnus sitnensis and the lectotype of Hypochnopsis fuscata are conspecific with P. tristis, but in the absence of molecular information we regard Pseudotomentella longisterigmata and Hypochnus rhacodium as doubtful taxa due to their aberrant morphology. We confirm A. phylacteris, Tomentella biennis and Septobasidium arachnoideum as excluded taxa, since their morphology clearly show that they belong to other genera. A key to the species of the P. tristis group is provided.

We found P. umbrina to be a common species with a wide, Holarctic distribution, forming ectomycorrhiza with a large number of host species in habitats ranging from tropical forests to the Arctic tundra. The other species in the P. tristis group were found to be less common and have narrower ecological niches.

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