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Open Access Pindara revisited – evolution and generic limits in Helvellaceae

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The Helvellaceae encompasses taxa that produce some of the most elaborate apothecial forms, as well as hypogeous ascomata, in the class Pezizomycetes (Ascomycota). While the circumscription of the Helvellaceae is clarified, evolutionary relationships and generic limits within the family are debatable. A robust phylogeny of the Helvellaceae, using an increased number of molecular characters from the LSU rDNA, RPB2 and EF-1α gene regions (4 299 bp) and a wide representative sampling, is presented here. Helvella was shown to be polyphyletic, because Helvella aestivalis formed a distant monophyletic group with hypogeous species of Balsamia and Barssia. All other species of Helvella formed a large group with the enigmatic Pindara (/Helvella) terrestris nested within it. The ear-shaped Wynnella constitutes an independent lineage and is recognised with the earlier name Midotis. The clade of the hypogeous Balsamia and Barssia, and H. aestivalis is coherent in the three-gene phylogeny, and considering the lack of phenotypic characters to distinguish Barssia from Balsamia we combine species of Barssia, along with H. aestivalis, in Balsamia. The closed/tuberiform, sparassoid H. astieri is shown to be a synonym of H. lactea; it is merely an incidental folded form of the saddle-shaped H. lactea. Pindara is a sister group to a restricted Helvella, i.e., excluding the /leucomelaena lineage, on a notably long branch. We recognise Pindara as a separate genus and erect a new genus Dissingia for the /leucomelaena lineage, viz. H. confusa, H. crassitunicata, H. leucomelaena and H. oblongispora. Dissingia is supported by asci that arise from simple septa; all other species of Helvellaceae have asci that arise from croziers, with one exception being the /alpina-corium lineage of Helvella s. str. This suggests ascus development from croziers is the ancestral state for the Helvellaceae and that ascus development from simple septa has evolved at least twice in the family. Our phylogeny does not determine the evolutionary relationships within Helvella s.str., but it is most parsimonious to infer that the ancestor of the helvelloids produced subsessile or shortly stipitate, cup-shaped apothecia. This shape has been maintained in some lineages of Helvella s.str. The type species of Underwoodia, Underwoodia columnaris, is a sister lineage to the rest of the Helvellaceae.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 19, 2019

This article was made available online on April 12, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Pindara revisited – evolution and generic limits in Helvellaceae".

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  • Persoonia aims to publish papers dealing with molecular phylogeny and evolution of fungi. A further aim is to promote fungal taxonomy by employing a polythetic approach to clarify the true phylogeny and relationships within the kingdom Fungi. The journal publishes high-quality papers elucidating known and novel fungal taxa at the DNA level, and also strives to present novel insights into evolutionary processes and relationships. Papers to be considered include research articles and reviews.

    Papers are published using a Fast Track system. This implies that the papers are immediately published online and freely available through the internet via this website. Volumes appear twice a year (June and December). From Volume 36 onwards (2016) hard copy volumes will only be made available through printing-on-demand. The issues can be ordered separately through the Publication Division of Naturalis Biodiversity Center; e-mail: [email protected].

    Persoonia is a journal published jointly by the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute.
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