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Two New Species of Mushroom Discovered in Spain

Feb 27, 2013 03:02 AM EST

Researchers have discovered two new species of mushroom in the Iberian Peninsula, Spain.

The two new species belong to the genus Hydnum, commonly known as "ox tongue." Fungi under the Hydnum genus are used in cooking. The new species have been scientifically named Hydnum ovoideisporum and Hydnum vesterholtii.

Despite mushrooms belonging to the Hydnum genus being consumed worldwide, there have been very few attempts to study what species exist and the differences between them, said lead researcher of the study Ibai Olariaga Ibarguren, from the University of the Basque Country, Spain.

Differentiating between mushrooms under this genus is a complicated task, as there is high resemblance within the species, and they also possess similar microscopic characteristics. "This is one of the reasons why many authors of studies have believed that there are few Hydnum species with different variables," Olariaga Ibarguren said.

However, the researcher and his colleagues believe that the genetic diversity of this genus is very high. The two new species were discovered when Olariaga Ibarguren had been performing a review of this genus in the Iberian Peninsula for many years. He found that the two species of mushrooms were distinguishable from the rest because of their specific ecology. In addition, he also noticed that the new species had ovoid basidiospores, instead of the blastospores that are found in the majority of species.

Based on these findings, the scientists concluded that the two species belonged to two genetically different lineages. Species under the Hydnum genus cannot be cultivated. Instead, they are picked in large quantities from natural ecosystems. They are not poisonous, which could explain why researchers have not placed great emphasis on differentiating between them.

With very few studies on these mushroom species, it is not known whether the fungi collected from natural ecosystems are an endangered species or under threat of extinction, or a common species. "This type of study allows us to delve deeper into these aspects and gain precise information that can be interesting from an applied point of view, since it is necessary to know for example if one or a few species produce certain secondary metabolites or molecules of industrial interest," Olariaga Ibarguren said in a statement.

The details of the findings are published in the Mycologia journal.

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