Russulas of Southern Vancouver Island coastal forests.




Roberts, Christine

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The Russula flora of Vancouver Island is diverse, colourful, abundant, ecologically important, but poorly documented, with the literature spread in many diverse journals and books from across North America and Europe in various languages. Keys and field guides to local species emphasise macroscopic and spore characters but distinctive structures in the epicutis are not described. As Russulas are prone to environmentally affected colour variation and a number of species have a similar appearance, correct identification may require microscopic examination and a suite of chemicals, a barrier to many people. The existence of synonyms and conflicting concepts for several species adds to the frustration in identification, Presented here are detailed illustrated descriptions of locally collected species, with discussions on nomenclatural and taxonomic issues where these cause confusion, some of these confirm past records, and some are new records or new species. Three aids to identification are examined: 1. A simplified chromatography method is described that identifies Russulas to subgenus and in some cases section and subsection level, enabling differentiation between some lookalike species without recourse to microscopy. 2. A method often used to match ectomycorrhizae with nearby basidiomata by comparing their restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) of amplified ITS rDNA, can also be compared with virtual RFLP's from sequence data downloaded from NCBI and EMBI to aid identification. The restriction enzymes Hinfl, AluI and Sau3A, resolved identities to subgeneric and section level, rarely to species. 3. Using published sequence data and Bayesian analysis, a phylogeny was sought with better resolution in the upper clades than had been found with other analysis methods. Various characters from published descriptions and from Vancouver Island collections were then examined for correlation with branching order or clade in this phylogeny, with basidia width, spore colour, pileocystidia shape and spore shape having highest correlation.



russulas, mushrooms, Vancouver Island, identification