Thursday, 15 March 2018

Oh, Dacrymyces...

It's been bugging me that I haven't properly properly confirmed my record of Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus on that Big ol' Beech

I thought this would be easy because I'd just have to find some mature '3-septate' spores showing the cell walls separating the spore into 4 compartments (like I observed here).

Despite scanning through squashes for AGES, I haven't found any 3-septate spores. But I have found some interesting-looking bits and bobs. This figure, which I stumbled upon on ResearchGate has been very helpful in making sense of what I'm seeing.

Figure reproduced from Oberwinkler (2014) here. Life cycle of Dacrymyces stillatus. (a) Basidiocarps (b) Fructification with fragmenting hyphae (i). (c) Detail of hymenium and subhymenium. (d) Basidial ontogeny showing stages of nuclear divisions in basidia. (e) Basidiospores and spore germination. (f) Yeastlike budding of microconidia. (g) Spore germination with hyphae, illustrated from D. palmatus but also occurring in D. stillatus . (h) Fragmented hyphae producing microconidia. (i) Short-celled fragmentation of peripheral hyphae from anamorph fructification (b). Figures not to scale; originally from Oberwinkler (2012).
Basidiocarps (the fruiting bodies)

These are what I observed in the field.


This tangled, branching mass of hyphae matches nicely with the illustration of the hymenium. As far as I could tell, there were no clamp connections.

Basidia (the microscopic structures which bear the spores)

I've got basidia at various stages of maturity here.

This shows nicely a mature basidia with spores growing on the tips. At top left a larger spore has been cast off to begin a life of its own. I make it about 11.5 x 6.5 microns in size – smaller than D. stillatus. Perhaps it's still got some growing to do?

I'm not sure what I'm seeing here... Perhaps "nuclear divisions in basidia"?


I could find very few spores in this collection. This one was starting to approach the dimensions of D. stillatus which the Collins (illustrated) Fungi Guide (Buczacki et al) give as 14 - 17 x 5 - 6 microns. Most were a bit smaller, around 11.5 microns in length.

I haven't been able to detect any septate structure to the spores – they look to just be filled with oil droplets – which I fear leaves things rather inconclusive as to the species identification.

For the record
Date: 11/03/2018
Location: The Big Beech, Rowland Wood, East Sussex
Grid reference: TQ514150


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Moments of pleasure

I was back at the Big Beech in Rowland Wood on Sunday. Not expecting to find much new.

The woodwarts, brackets and mushrooms emerging from this great hunk of dead wood mostly looked familiar, as I've devoted quite a bit of time to this old tree in the last couple of months. So I turned my attention to this pale fungus spreading over the trunk: filling the cracks (or perhaps causing the cracks?) in the bark.

It was one of the 'resupinate' fungi which lie flat, fixed to a substrate, with their fertile surface facing out.

Looking closely, I saw that it was beaded with droplets of red-amber liquid.

This must be an example of fungal guttation a process whereby fungi exude beads of moisture (one of my fellow fungus enthusiasts of the internet has written a wonderfully illustrated blog about it here).

I've seen photos of this sort of thing, but never observed it myself. It seems strange seeing these bright pigmented droplets emerging from such a non-descript creamy-white fungus. And somehow beautiful.

On the northern, more-sheltered side of the trunk I found more of this fungus growing in large patches.

Looking in my copy of 'The Resupinates of Hampshire' (Hugill & Lucas, 2017), I wondered if this might be one of the Schizopora species. But I can't for the life of me find any mention of Schizopora guttating.

There are two similar-looking Schizopora species in 'The Resupinates of Hampshire' which are apparently easy to separate on spore size:
  • Schizopora flavipora 4 - 4.5 x 2.5 - 3.5 microns
  • Schizopora paradoxa 6 - 6.5 x 3.5 - 4 microns

So I thought I'd have a go at some microscopy.

Comparing against photos on Malcolm Storey's site (here) the spore shape looks about right for Schizopora.

But my measurements average out at 5.2 x 3.2 microns. That doesn't help!

I looked to see if I could find any other distinctive features and spotted this thing with a knob on the end, which I think is probably a 'capitate cystidia'.

And I found some encrusted -looking things. Not sure what. Hyphae?

So I think I'm going to need some help with this one...

UPDATE 15/03/2018 - thanks to a lot of help from the good people of Sussex Fungus Group I've made some progress with this one.

Nick Aplin reminded me that there is another species of Schizopora which is not that dissimilar to the ones I've mentioned above: S. radula. The Resupinates of Hampshire gives spore dimensions for this of 4 - 5 x 3 - 4 microns, which tallies with my measurements.

Martin Allison agreed that this definitely appears to be a Schizopora species, but further investigation would be required to pin it down to a particular species. He pointed out that Fungi of Switzerland, Volume 2 (Breitenbach and Kränzlin, 1986) gives the spore dimensions for S. paradoxa as 4.5-6 x 3-4 microns which also tallies with my measurements. So we can't rule out S. paradoxa, which is very common all year round.

Ted Tuddenham then very helpfully shared with me a copy of the descriptions S. paradoxa and S. radula from Poroid fungi of Europe (Ryvarden and Melo). These indicated that the main difference between the species is in the characteristics of the hyphal system: is it monomitic (having just one type of hyphae), or is it dimitic (having two types of hyphae).

We were getting into pretty heavy stuff here, so Ted also sent me an illustration showing the difference between monomitic, dimitic and trimitic hyphal systems.

Image reproduced from Hyphal systems. See Pegler (Bull. BMS 7(suppl.), 1973). A, monomitic hyphal system, with thick-walled generative hyphae; B, dimitic hyphal system, with generative and ligative (binding) hyphae; C, dimitic hyphal system, with generative and skeletal hyphae; D, trimitic hyphal system, with generative, skeletal and ligative hyphae.
Time to have a go at some more microscopy.

I tentatively concluded that what I have here is a dimitic hyphal system, which Nick Aplin and Martin Allison were kind enough to confirm.

I originally thought that gave me sufficient information to confirm my collection as Split Porecrust Schizopora paradoxa.

However, Nick Aplin & Ted Tuddenham in the Sussex Fungus Group were kind enough to share further descriptions of S. schizopora and S. radula from 'Poroid fungi of Europe' and 'European Polypores' which suggest my collection could be S. radula after all. There is a degree of overlap and confusion in the descriptions (e.g. in relation to presence of skeletal hyphae, or not, in S. radula). 

I have therefore recorded this as S. radula for now, but kept a specimen in case there is ever an opportunity to bring more certainty to this identification.

I thought that was going to be my lot for this visit, until I spotted a small bracket growing on the southern side of the main trunk.

It was surprisingly squidgy...

... with ginger pores underneath.

I was completely stumped by this thing which seemed like a cross between a bracket fungus and a bolete until I came across a description of Cinnamon Bracket Hapalopilus nidulans.

As well as its white spore print (check), a key feature of this species is that it should turn purple or lilac when it comes into contact with ammonia or KOH. Let's try that shall we...


Look at that! Wonderful!

Species list for the Big Beech

  1. Splitgill Schizophyllum commune (14/2/2016)
  2. Beech Woodwart Hypoxylon fragiforme (14/2/2016)
  3. Possible Cosmospora arxii (14/2/2016) - not confirmed
  4. Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida (9/10/2016)
  5. Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus (11/12/2016)
  6. Beech Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides (11/12/2016) - not confirmed
  7. Bitter Oysterling Panellus stipticus (14/01/2018)
  8. Small Stagshorn Calocera cornea (14/01/2018)
  9. Jackrogersella cohaerens (14/01/2018)
  10. Turkeytail Trametes versicolor (14/01/2018)
  11. Birch Mazegill Lenzites betulinus (14/01/2018)
  12. Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum (14/01/2018)
  13. Clitopilus hobsonii (14/01/2018)
  14. Wrinkled Crust Phlebia radiata (14/01/2018)
  15. Smoky Bracket Bjerkandera adusta (14/01/2018)
  16. Ganoderma sp. (14/01/2018)
  17. Winter Polypore Polyporus brumalis (11/02/2018)
  18. Exidia plana (11/02/2018)
  19. Possible Common Jellyspot Dacrymyces stillatus - not confirmed (11/02/2018)
  20. Possible Leafy Brain Tremella foliacea - not confirmed (11/02/2018)
  21. Crimped Gill Plicatura crispa (11/02/2018)
  22. Split Porecrust Schizopora paradoxa (11/03/2018) - confirmed 15/03/2017
  23. Cinnamon Bracket Hapalopilus nidulans (11/03/2018)
For the record
Date: 11/03/2018
Location: The Big Beech, Rowland Wood, East Sussex
Grid reference: TQ514150

Records entered into FRDBI 07/09/2018