Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Eyelashes: More complex than I'd realised

On the subject of that wacky Common Eyelash fungus that I found in the woodpile...

Turns out these are more complex than I'd realised. Literally. Nick Aplin of Sussex Fungus Group got in touch and explained that the Scutellinia are now thought to be a poorly-described "species complex". That means that what people used to think was one species (i.e. Common Eyelash Scutellinia scutellata) could be any one of many different species that all look very much the same. Unless you have a microscope and you know how to use it. And you've got the right identification key and you know how to navigate your way around that.

This is all getting well beyond my ken. Lucky for me, Nick has microscope, keys and know-how, and generously offered to take a look at my "Eyelash". (Yeah, we know it sounds weird.)

So one day a couple of weeks ago I went back to that woodpile for a specimen. I packed it carefully, along with that purply-brown blob, and popped it in the post.

After waiting a few days to get a spore print, Nick was able to get these photos of the identification features which show the fungus I found is Scutellinia crinita. The notes in brackets are his.

Hairs mounted in water (note rooting bases)

Asci mounted in water 

Ascospores mounted (and heated) in lactophenol cotton blue (note the fine ornamentation typical of this species)

Incredible, huh?

For the record

Observation date: 01/01/2016
Location: Tottington Wood
Grid reference: TQ216127

Detemined by Nick Aplin as Scutellinia crinita on 16/01/2016
Entered into FRDBI: 13/02/2017

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