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Title: Ecology of the rare oak polypore Piptoporus quercinus and the tooth fungi Hericium cirrhatum, H. coralloides, and H. erinaceus in the UK
Author: Crockatt, Martha
ISNI:       0000 0004 2751 3922
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2008
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Although fungi are essential to functioning of forest ecosystems, ecology of wood decay fungi, particularly rare species, is understudied. Hericium coralloides, on the UK red data list, H. erinaceus and Piptoporus quercinus, UK BAP species, and H. cirrhatum are rare in the UK, existing in isolated populations in areas with a history of continuous tree cover. Hericium spp. fruit primarily on beech (Fagus sylvatica), and P. quercinus exclusively on oak (Quercus spp.). Their ecology is unknown, beyond information on fruit body occurence, combative ability against wood decay fungi and extension rates on agar. Their ecology in terms of spore dispersal and germination, and inter- and intraspecific interactions was investigated. Basidiospore dispersal of Hericium spp. was typical of basidiomycetes over the distances investigated (0-100 m from fruit bodies), but basidiospore germination was consistently under 1% in the laboratory. Mating systems of H. coralloides and H. erinaceus were bifactorial, confirming previous research using North American isolates. H. cirrhatum's mating system remains unclear, due to anomalous clamp connections. Mating experiments also showed that H. coralloides from different host species can interbreed, and fruit bodies occurring simultaneously on a substrate may originate from a single mycelium. H. coralloides was successfully established artificially in living beech, revealed using molecular techniques. Primary mycelia of H. coralloides were more combative than secondary, indicating the significance of this lifecycle stage for rare species. P. quercinus had under 1% spore germination and unifactorial mating. The six populations sampled had only four mating alleles, two being unique to one fruit body. This implies inbreeding, but phenotypic variation (extension rates and colony morphology) prove the population is not clonal. Results are discussed in relation to ecology of rare fungi in general, possible factors relating to the rarity of Hericium spp. and P. quercinus, and potential conservation strategies for these species.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available