Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

2 April 2017 | Wild Mushrooms | Trametes repanda |

I had almost forgotten about my request to join The Mushroom Identification Group in Facebook (FB) until the email approval notification came in this Tuesday. It must have taken more than a week for the group to approve my request. This is a public group which was how I got to find their FB page in the first place. Majority of the members appeared to be from USA based on the locations of the mushroom pictures posted. Although the group had over 25,000 members, most were inactive judging from the relatively few pictures posted on the FB page each day.

With the door to this FB group opened, I eagerly posted my 2 sets of mushroom pictures for identification. Both were polypores, a group of mushrooms that form fruiting bodies with pores or tubes on the underside. The first set of pictures was a faint yellow fan-shaped polypore that grew on dead woods while the second set was a white polypore. Though they looked different, the pattern of the tubes at the underside were quite similar and both grew on dead woods. The origin of the dead woods were likely to be Rubber Tree (Hevea brasiliensis). The response from the FB group came in relatively quick on the first mushroom --- Trametes aesculi. No clue came in for the white polypore till today.

After browsing through a 2014 publication in the journal Mycologia [1], I settled for Trametes repanda instead of Trametes aesculi as the name of the first mushroom. According to the report, Trametes repanda is a southeastern Asian species while Trametes aesculi occurs exclusively in continental USA. I had originally thought that it was Trametes elegans but this species is distributed in the Central and South America and the Caribbean region. The three species cannot be differentiated solely based on morphological characters as they looked very similar.

Trametes repanda:
photo photo photo photo
Unknown white polypore:
photo photo photo photo

Although there are plenty of interesting wild mushrooms in Singapore, the information on them, specifically their identity was very limited. The Singapore Fungi page in the iNaturalist website only had pictures of 11 mushroom species. Most if not all other websites on Singapore mushrooms were simply showing pictures with little lead to their identity down to the genus level. In the expert arena, I hardly see any publication on mushrooms in Singapore. Apparently, we do have a well-known mycologist (Professor Gloria Lim) in the good old days. In a publication back in 1986 [2], she alluded that the two main problems facing mycological research in Singapore were the lack of assistance in identification of fungi and the lack of manpower. I suspect the situation had not changed since then. An article in January 2016 from the Asian Scientist website briefly described the predicament of mycology (study of mushrooms) at the National University of Singapore after the retirement of Professor Lim based on the interview done with her for the SG50 book on Singapore’s scientific pioneers. No wonder there was hardly any local mycology publication.

Reference:

[1] Carlson A, Justo A, Hibbett DS. Species delimitation in Trametes: a comparison of ITS, RPB1, RPB2 and TEF1 gene phylogenies. Mycologia 2014;106(4):735-745. | Abstract |

[2] Lim G, Tan TK. Mycological research in Singapore. Proc Indian Acad Sci (Plant Sci) 1986;96:335. | Abstract |

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