Fungus Species in the Christopher B. Smith Preserve

Fungus Classification: Members of the Fungus Kingdom include yeasts, molds, mushrooms, puffballs, and bracket fungus. Some species are microscopic, while other are macroscopic. In this website, only the macroscopic fungi are discussed. All macrofungi produce sexual spores, created from the combination of genetic materials from two parents. The spores are produced and dispersed by fruiting bodies. The type of fruiting body determines whether it is classified as a member of Phylum/Division Ascomycota or Phylum/Division Basidiomycota. An ascomycete, also called a sac fungus, produces spores internally in a sac, called an ascus. This is the largest fungus phylum/division with over 64,000 species. A basidiomycete, also called a club fungus, produces sexual spores externally on the end of specialized cells called basidia.

Interactions in the Smith Preserve: Fungus species living in the Smith Preserve perform a variety of very important functions. Many are decomposers of organic matter and recycle nutrients. Some are parasitic. Some combine with algae and cyanobacteria to create lichens. Others live independently and provide food and habitat for other organisms. Scientists estimate there are 1.5 million species of fungus in the world, of which 100,000 species have been formally described. One can only imagine the number of different species living in the Smith Preserve.

 
Phylum/Division
Class
Order
Family
Species Name
Common Name
Ascomycota
Dothideomycetes
Capnodiales
Capnodiaceae
Capnodium sp.
Ascomycota
Laboulbeniomycetes
Laboulbeniales
Laboulbeniaceae
Hesperomyces virescens
Ascomycota
Leotiomyetes
Erysiphales
Erysiphaceae
Unknown
Ascomycota
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Ascomycota
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Ascomycota
Ascomycetes
Lecanorales
Cladoniaceae
Cladonia spp.
Ascomycota
Taphrinomycetes
Taphrinales
Taphrinaceae
Taphrina caerulescens
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Agaricales
Lepiotaceae
Unknown
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Agaricales
Lycoperdaeae
Unknown
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Agaricales
Marasmiaceae
Marasmiellus
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Agaricales
Schizophyllaceae
Schizophyllum commune
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Agaricales
Unknown
Unknown
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Auriculariales
Auriculariaceae
Auricularia auricula-judae
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Geastrales
Geastraceae
Geastrum sp.
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Polyporales
Ganadermataceae
Ganaderma applanatum
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Polyporales
Meruliaceae
Gloeoporus taxicola ?
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Polyporales
Polyporaceae
Lentinus sp.
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Polyporales
Polyporaceae
Pycnoporus sanguineus
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Polyporales
Steccherinaceae
Irpex lacteus
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Basidiomycota
Agaricomycetes
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Basidiomycota
Pucciniomycetes
Septobasidiales
Septobasidiaceae
Septobasidium sp.

Phylum / Division Ascomycota

Family Capnodiaceae

Capnodium sp.... Black Sooty Mold

In the Smith Preserve, Capnodium sp. is present on the leaves of some Lyonia ferruginea(Rusty Lyonia).

The white fuzzy creatures shown in the photographs above are Felt Scale Insects, Family Eriococcidae. Because Felt Scales feed on plant juices, they produce honeydew (a sticky, sugary substance). This excreted honeydew coats the leaves and stems of the plants and stimulates the growth of black powdery mold.

Although the mold is not a parasite of the plant, its presence prevents sunlight from reaching the leaves, thus reducing the plant's ability to photosynthesize. This results in stunted plant growth.

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Family Laboulbeniaceae

Hesperomyces virescens ... Laboulbenialean Fungus

There are nearly 2,000 described species of laboulbenialean fungi. All are parasites that grow on the integument of living arthropods, mostly adult insects. Most of these fungi are very host specific, with one particular species living on a single, or only a few host species.

Laboulbenialean fungi produce sticky spores. The spores have a short life span and cannot spread through the air. Infection is often though sexual contact among the host insects, as is shown in this photograph, or when large numbers of insects congregate.

In 2003, Hesperomyces virescens, known to parasitize other types of lady bug beetles, was first reported by Ohio State University Entomologists on Harmonia axyridis (Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle). The female Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle shown in the photograph has fungal thalli, fungal bodies, growing on its carapace.

Hesperomyces virescens receives its nutrition through a haustorium (a projection from the hypha on the thalli) that penetrates the cuticle of the beetle and absorbs nutrients from the beetles cavity where blood circulates. Most laboulbeniales have little or no effect on the reproduction and survival of the host. However, when the host is heavily infested, as is the one in this photograph, the beetle becomes vulnerable to predation because of its inability to fly and/or walk.

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Family Erysiphaceae

Unknown Species ... Powdery Mildew

These leaves of Quercus sp.(Oak) are covered with powdery mildew. Several fungi belonging to Family Erysiphaceae of Phylum/Division Ascomycota cause this disease: Erysiphe trina, Microsphaera alni, Phyllactinia corylea and Sphaerotheca lanestris. The specific species shown here is/are unknown.

Symptoms of powdery mildew include a white, powdery growth on the top and bottom of the leaf surfaces, malformed foliage, and leaves that drop prematurely or dry out and shrivel.

 

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Entomopathogenic Fungi

The white, powder-like substance on this Anisota virginiensis (Pink-Striped Oakworm caterpillar is an entomopathogenic fungus. An entomopathogenic fungus acts as a parasite of insects.

The typical life cycle of this type of fungus begins when microscopic spores of the fungus attach to the external surface of an insect. When conditions of temperature and humidity are optimal for fungal growth, the spores germinate and grow as hyphae that colonize the insect's cuticle. Eventually, the hyphae bore through the cuticle into the insect's body cavity and may produce toxins, depending on the species of fungus. The insect becomes weak, loses body functions, and dies. If environmental conditions are conducive, new fungal spores form inside and/or on the outside of the insect.

There are several fungal groups that can be entomopathogenic fungi. Since these fungi are considered natural agents of mortality and environmentally safe, there is interest in the use and manipulation of these fungi for biological control of pest insects and other arthropods.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Leaf Spot Fungus

The Quercus myrtifolia (Myrtle Oak) leaf at left has leaf spot disease. Although this disease can be caused by air pollutants, insects, and bacteria, the most common cause is pathogenic fungi.

As seen in this photograph, the numerous spots are yellow with light and dark concentric regions. The centers of the spots are dead leaf tissues with dark fungal fruiting bodies, called pycnidia, acervuli, and perithecia. Spores produced by these fruiting bodies are discharged during or following a rain and are carried in the wind and splashing rain to other leaves. If a leaf is wet and a fungal spore lands on it, the spore germinates, penetrates the leaf, and causes infection. A few days to several weeks later, small spots appear on the leaf. As the fungus grows, the spots enlarge and more leaf tissue is destroyed. The leaf will likely die.

Leaf spot fungi disease is more common in cool, wet weather early in the growing season. Many different species of fungus cause leaf spot.

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Family Cladoniaceae

Cladonia spp. ... Symbionts in Lichens

Lichens are tiny mini-ecosytems consisting of hundreds of individuals of at least two different types of organisms that live in a symbiotic relationship in which both organisms benefit. One of the symbionts is fungus, while the other is a photobiont (either green alga or cyanobacterium.) The fungus symbiont ensures protection and regulates the supply of minerals and water. The photobiont photosynthesizes, providing organic carbon. Each lichen species has its own form and looks much different from the individual contributing organisms.

The fungal symbiont in the three different lichens shown here is genus, Cladonia. Since lichens are named for the fungal symbiont, the lichen genus is also Cladonia. Fungal symbionts in the majority of lichens such as Cladonia belong to Phylum/Division Ascomycota. Click to learn more about the lichens in the Smith Preserve.

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Family Taphrinaceae

Taphrina caerulescens ...Oak Leaf Blister

On January 20, 2014, blisters were observed on the bottom of many new Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) leaves, with corresponding depressions on the top surfaces of the leaves. Identification of the pathogen is in question. Taphrina caerulescens is described in the literature as creating blisters in the reverse position (i.e.. blisters on the top surface and depressions on the bottom surface).

Other characteristics of the leaf blisters seem to fit with the description of Taphrina caerulescens. Light green leaf blisters usually appear on new leaves within several weeks following infection. Blisters are circular in shape and 6 mm to 13 mm in diameter. The blister distortions may cause leaves to bend or curl. As blisters age, they dry, and form brown spots; severely diseased leaves may drop prematurely.

The disease is not known to seriously harm healthy trees. Taphrina caerulescens is known to infect about 50 different species of oaks, with different strains of the species affecting different oak species.

The two sets of photographs below show the top (at left) and the bottom (at right) of two leaves. The top photographs are of a leaf in January. The second row of photographs are a different leaf in April. Note blisters were green in January and brown by April.

Since blisters observed in the Smith Preserve do not fit those described for Taphrina caerulescens, on April 15, 2014, symptomatic leaves were sent for analysis to Aaron J. Palmateer, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Extension Specialist with the Tropical Research & Education Center, Florida Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic. When leaves were collected to be sent to Dr. Palmateer, most leaves on the tree had blisters only on the bottom of the leaves, but a few had blisters only on top surfaces, and some leaves had blisters on both top and bottom surfaces.

On April 21, 2014, Dr. Palmateer reported that he had received the leaf samples in good shape and the fungus is definitely Taphrina and appears to be T. caerulescens. He is going to contact a forest pathologist and ask about the blisters. In his e-mail, he said, "I'm thinking that the symptom description may need to be revised. If I learn anything new about this I'll be sure to keep you posted."

On February 28, 2017, the photographs at left and below were taken of another example of what appears as Taphrina caerulescens. In these photographs, the raised surfaces were on the top of the laurel oak leaves. The second image is an enlargement of the blister that appears to have hyphae.

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Phylum / Division Basidiomycota

Family Lepiotaceae

Unknown Species ... Subterranean Fungus

Throughout the sandy scrub regions of the Smith Preserve in subterranean chambers under crescent-shaped mounds, colonies of ants (Trachmyrmex sp.) cultivate fungus gardens. Photograph 1 shows one of the mounds.

The ant-fungus relationship is an example of mutualistic symbiosis. Both species not only benefit from the relationship, but they depend on one another for survival. The ants carry dead vegetation, fresh leaves, flowers, fruit pulp, and insect feces into the subterranean chambers. The fungi use the decomposing materials for food. In return, the ants harvest some of the fungus for food.

The photographs below show working caste members carrying vegetation to the mound entrance.

 

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Family Lycoperdaeae

Unknown Species ... Puffball

 

 

Unlike most other types of fungus that hold spores in gills or teeth, puffballs have spores inside a spheroidal fruiting body. When a puffball reaches maturity, its tough outer skin bursts open, releasing billions of brown dust-like spores into the air. This photograph shows a puffball that appears to have a stalk. This particular puffball has reached maturity and already released many of its spores.

 

 

 

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Family Marasmiaceae

Marasmiellus sp. ... Gill Fungus / Mushrooms

On December 9, 2015, this cluster of tiny mushrooms were growing on a Pinus elliotti densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) needle that had fallen along a trail in the southeastern portion of the Smith Preserve. As seen in these photographs, the stems of these mushrooms are thin and relatively tall. The gill attachment does not appear to be attached to the stem. The cap of each mushroom is depressed, having a low central region. The identification as Order Agaricales was made by sight by "Mycowalt" at <mushroomobserver.org> on December 25, 2015.

On September 18, 2017, the mushroom genus was identified by sight as Marasmiellus by Jacob Kalichman (Pulk).

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Family Schizophyllaceae

Schizophyllum commune ... Common Split Gill Mushroom

Schizophyllum commune looks like a tiny bracket fungus, but It is not closely related to them or to other gilled mushrooms. It is in its own order, Schizophyllales.

These fungi are quite small (.6 mm to 5.1 mm across.) Field guides sometimes describe them as looking hairy. To this photographer, they look crystalline. The crystalline-like structure is especially evident in the close-up at left.

The common name "Common Split Gill Mushroom" is appropriate. It is the world's most widely distributed mushroom and occurs on every continent except Antarctica. It also has split gills. When it dries out, its surface splits into sections, giving its margins a wavy and lobed appearance.

The cap of the fungus is shell-shaped and has tissue concentrated at the point of attachment, making it look like it has a stem. It usually lives on decomposing wood. The specimens in these photographs were living on a dead piece of Opuntia humifusa (Prickly Pear Cactus).

Besides living in rotting wood, Schizophyllum commune can cause disease in humans.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Gill Fungus / Mushrooms

 

Like the name implies, gilled mushrooms have spores produced on gills. The photographs shown here are of the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body produced above the soil. The mycelium portion of each mushroom is underground. The third photograph shows where the stem was broken off from the mycelium. It's through the mycelium that decomposition takes place as the fungus obtains nutrients from its environment. The process begins when the mycelium secretes enzymes into the food source. This breaks the food into smaller units that are then absorbed into the mycelium.

The mycelia of gilled mushrooms play many vital roles in the Smith Preserve: 1) creating decomposition of plant material, 2) contributing to soil formation, 3) releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and 4) providing an important food source for soil invertebrates.

The Smith Preserve has a variety of species of gilled mushrooms, many of which provide mini worlds for other creatures. Note the ants climbing the stem of the mushroom in the middle photograph above and the enlargement of that photograph at left.

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Family Auriculariaceae

Auricularia auricula-judae ... Wood Ear / Jelly Ear

The flesh of this fungus is thin, smooth, jelly-like, and rubbery with an irregular shape and an upturned edge that makes it resemble an ear attached directly to the substrate. Individuals vary in size from 2 to 15 cm across; large specimens often have wrinkles.

The color is brown to reddish-brown. Wood Ear grows in a moist habitat on a decaying, fallen log and is easiest to find after the fruiting body has been hydrated by rain. Once dry, it becomes tough, hard, and a darker color.

Wood Ear is edible. In the Orient it is a delicacy that is dried, stored, rehydrated in water, and used in soups and casseroles.

 

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Family Geastraceae

Geastrum sp. ... Earthstar

Geastrlum sp. is a soil fungus often found at the Smith Preserve.

Earthstars are clustered in the sand among lichens and dried oak leaves.

At maturity and after a rain, the outer covering of this fungus splits and sections curl back to create the shape of a star. The spores expel in a puff from the inner sack. Although similar to a puffball in the way it expels spores, Geastrium sp. is in its own taxonomic order.

Geastrium sp. is saprotrophic, meaning it gets nourishment from decaying organic matter.

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Family Ganadermataceae

Ganoderma applanatum ... Artist's Bracket / Artist's Conk

Artist's bracket is hard and shelf-like with gray-brown banding. The bottom is white and turns brown when scratched.

It is the most common perennial wood decay fungus of dead and dying hardwood trees, and can be found in all 50 states. It causes white stem and butt rot.

As shown, in the second photograph, these fungi can be quite large. This one measured 10 cm across. They are known to reach diameters of 30 to 40 cm.

 

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Family Meruliaceae

Gloeoporus taxicola ? ... No Common Name

Basidiomycete Fungus on Dead Oak Branch

This fungus does not have any nodular structures and it is rust-brown. It may be Gloeoporus taxicola (aka. Meruliopsis taxicola).

G. taxicola has thin, irregularly shaped pores that are 2 to 4 per mm in diameter. It is whitish, ocherous or reddish brown with a white border.

An expert on fungus is needed to confirm the species.

 

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Family Polyporaceae

Lentinus sp. ... No Common Name

On April 14, 2014, these mushrooms were growing on a decaying log of Pinus elliottii (Southern Florida Slash Pine). Each individual resembled a furry looking, upside down acorn cap, supported by a narrow pedestal.

On November 26, 2014, the identification of this mushroom was confirmed from these photographs by Walt Sturgeon at <news@musroomobserver.org>.

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Family Polyporaceae

Pycnoporus sanguineus ...Cinnabar Polypore

As shown, the fruiting body is a bright orange shelf fungus. Fruiting bodies are sessile, corky, and found on fallen hardwood logs, where they create white sapwood rot. Some fruiting bodies produce spores at two to three years of age.

There are 5 species in the genus, separated by morphology, biogeography, and DNA sequence. Pycnoporus sangineus is found in warmer, tropical regions in North America, South America, and Asia.

Pycnoporus fungi are used in industry because of their production of lignolytic enzymes that break down lignin and polysaccharides in wood and paper. Other uses for this fungus have been reported in Aboriginal cultures in Australia, where the fungus is used for treating mouth sores, ulcers, and for reducing pain from teething of infants. This species is not edible.

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Family Steccherinaceae

Irpex lacteus ... Milk-White Toothed Polypore Fungus

Identification of this organism as a basidiomycete fungus was made by Dr. Robert Lücking from these photographs on January 8 , 2013. This fungus is quite large as is indicated by the 1 cm scale shown in the first photograph. The close-up shows the honey-comb appearance of some portions of the fungus. Other portions are nodular and elevated above the surface.

The species was identified using the USDA online Field Guide to Common Macrofungi in Eastern Forests and Their Ecosystem Functions, by Michael E. Ostry, Neil A. Anderson, and Joseph G. O'Brien. Irpex lacteus is a common fungus throughout temperate areas of the world. It is a white-rot fungus that usually lives on angiosperm branches and trunks. The fungus shown here was growing on Quercus sp. (Oak).

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Bracket Fungus

This is an unknown species of bracket fungus. Bracket fungus, also called shelf fungus, grows as a semi-circular structure out of living trees, fallen branches, and dead trees. The fungus we see is the fruiting body. Like other fungus types, the mycelium is below the surface.

The hardness of a bracket fungus means it is very resilient and can live for a long time. Many species, like this one, develop annual growth rings of multi-colored circles.

Bracket fungi typically produce their spores within pores that make up the undersurface.

There are many different types of bracket fungus growing at the Smith Preserve. Some are parasitic, some are saprotrophic, and some are both. Many parasitic forms are specific to a particular host plant. Fungus spores enter through a wound in the host, then the mycelia rot the inner wood. Finally the fruiting body breaks through the bark.

 

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Basidiomycete Fungus on a Stick

Identification of these fungi as basidiomycetes was made by Dr. Robert Lücking from these photographs on January 8 , 2013. Note the small size and fuzzy margins of these individuals.

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Family Septobasidiaceae

Septobasidium sp .... Entomopathogen Fungus

On March 3, 2017, as the science volunteer team was removing exotics and invasive vines in the southeastern quadrant of Smith Preserve, several branches of Smilax auriculata (Earleaf Greenbrier/Catbrier) were found to be covered with a white fungus.

These photographs were sent to numerous experts to identify.

On April 6, 2017, Dr. Britt A. Bunyard, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of <www.fungimag.com> confirmed that it is a fungus, and he said that since the vine appears to be dead, "there are any number of saprobic fungus that could attack and decay the dead material."

Saprobic fungi and bacteria are the main decomposers of organic matter.

The photograph immediately below is a close-up of the one above. The two photographs below that one are of other Smilax auriculata vines, growing in the same area as the first.

On April 14, 2017, these photographs were sent to Dr. Matthew E. Smith, Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida. In a return e-mail on April 17th, he stated, "My very strong suspicion is that this is a species of Septobasidium that is parasitizing the scale insects that are on the Smilax but I would need to double check with the specimen." Another specimen, collected on April 13, 2017, was sent to Dr. Smith on April 17, 2017. On April 24, 2017 in an e-mail, Dr. Smith confirmed that the fungus is Septobasidium. He stated, "That is definitely a Septobasidium. I am not sure of the species - they are very challenging to tell apart. I did not see any spores in my quick view under the microscope so it may be immature."

Septobasidium is a genus of Basidomycota fungi. Septobasidium species are also known as Entomopathogens. The mycelium forms elaborate structures over colonies of insects feeding on the bark. Unlike saprotrophic fungi, parasitic fungi attack living organisms and obtain nourishment from living cytoplasm, causing disease and sometimes death to the host.

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© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer), unless otherwise credited above.

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