UW-L professor, graduate discover new species of mushrooms

Published On: Apr 17 2013 12:20:11 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 28 2013 07:29:52 PM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse biology professor and a graduate from the university's biology graduate school program have discovered three new species of edible mushrooms in Hixon Forest.

While in graduate school, Matthew Foltz did research that led to the discovery of the three new species.

UW-L Biology Professor Tom Volk, Foltz, and UW-L Biology Assistant Professor Kathryn Perez co-authored a paper about their discovery, which was published in the March-April 2013 edition of "Mycologia." Their paper also describes how the new species were "previously all masquerading under the blanket classification of 'Chanterelle,' or 'Cantharellus cibarius,'" according to the news release.

The researchers named the new species based on the mushrooms' appearance. The new species are called: "Cantharellus phasmatis," named for its ghostly white-colored stem; "Cantharellus flavus," named for its overall yellow color; and "Cantharellus spectaculus," named for its contrast of its orange and salmon/purple coloring, Volk said. The researchers say these edible mushrooms grow in association with hardwood trees, particulaly oaks.

Volk and Foltz found the three species about 20 meters away from another one in Hixon Forest. With Perez's help, Foltz extracted regions of DNA from the mushroom and compared it to related mushrooms to compare them at the molecular level.

"I never thought going into this program I would walk away with three new species attached to my name," Foltz said. "To come this far in that amount of time, I feel like I had a great opportunity. I thank Tom for that opportunity."

"If new discoveries are being made with these large, conspicuous, edible mushrooms, you can only imagine what is happening with the more obscure species," Volk said. "To have these three new species growing within such a small area is pretty remarkable."