Anamorphs

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Steve
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Anamorphs

Post by Steve » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:10 pm

Hi,
For a long time I was puzzled about the dusty grey coating on Dead Man's Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) and Dead Moll's Fingers (Xylaria longipes) found on "immature" specimens. I thought they were perhaps mouldy. This is apparently the anamorphic form which produces conidia asexually, and is almost totally ignored in field guides and even top-notch guides such as Fungi of Switzerland. It's as though the term "anamorph" implies something second-rate, compared to the "perfect" sexual ascospores. Surely Mother Nature makes no such distinction, as probably the conidial form is often more important in reproducing the fungus (e.g. the conidial form of Brown Rot of apple, Monilia fructigenia, which never has the ascopore-bearing Disco in the UK). I was shown how to survey a hay-meadow at Longshaw Estate last week - we had to identify all the plants and grasses, irrespective of whether they had flowers. Are anamorphic fungi disregarded in field guides because a) they can be very hard to identify from the morphology or b) they are treated as annoying second-rate fungi! Some of the Hypoxylon anamorphs are very striking - but you don't tend to see descriptions of them along with the perfect form.
Here is what I think is the anamorph of Xylaria longipes, found on Sycamore. It belongs to the same anamorphic group as X. hypoxylon. Candlesnuff Fungus - X. hypoxylon is in another anamorphic group - see https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j ... 5949,d.ZGU
The fruiting body is actually quite attractive compared to its more sinister looking "dead finger" perfect form. The grey coating is of tear/pear shaped conidia 7-10 x 4.5 um.
Steve
Attachments
1 Dead Moll's Fingers - Xylaria longipes anamorphic form.jpg
Field photo
1a Dead Moll's Fingers - Xylaria longipes anamorphic form - Copy.jpg
Close up of grey coated fruit-bodies and conidia (x600 in water)

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adampembs
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Re: Anamorphs

Post by adampembs » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:23 am

Hi Steve, I'm way out of my depth here, but I suppose anamorphs have been given 2nd rate status because most species in life are classified by sexual characters (where relevant), and applies to plants and animals as much as fungi. I don't know whether conidia or conidiophores are different enough to be diagnostic. If these details don't appear in the literature, maybe this is the case, although as I said, I am out of my depth here :)

Do conidiophores need special techniques to observe? Did I read somewhere that chains of conidia need to be dry-mounted to avoid them breaking up?
Adam Pollard
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Chris Yeates
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Re: Anamorphs

Post by Chris Yeates » Mon Jun 15, 2015 6:57 pm

Hi both
in fact anamorphs are not now considered "second class mycological citizens" at all. At the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress in Melbourne the concept of "One Fungus One Name" was ratified, creating a whole area of potential complications while trying to make things uniform. Here is the relevant document: http://www.iapt-taxon.org/nomen/main.php
Article 59 is the relevant one and includes this statement:
"Previous editions of this Code provided for separate names for mitotic asexual morphs (anamorphs) of certain pleomorphic fungi and required that the name applicable to the whole fungus be typified by a meiotic sexual morph (teleomorph). Under the current Code, however, all legitimate fungal names are treated equally for the purposes of establishing priority, regardless of the life history stage of the type . . . ".
This isn't the place to go into details about it - Walter Gams goes into some of the issues here: http://mi.iranjournals.ir/article_2959_0.html
This is of course tedious stuff and it's much more fun to be out and about collecting fungi. But this boring stuff has to be done and done right -
an analogy might be
  • a drive in the country (fun)
    drawing up the Highway Code (tedious, but necessary to reduce the number of drivers crashing into one another)
I'll get mi coat . . .
Chris
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
Steely Dan - "Rose Darling"

Steve
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Re: Anamorphs

Post by Steve » Tue Jun 16, 2015 1:26 pm

Hi Chris,
Yes it's not great fun to read!
But I think that we should make a note of the anamorph in such cases as Monilinia johnsonii. I have two records on the same date for a BMS visit to Worsborough 20/5/11. One is noted as an anamorph. Fortunately the substrate is recorded - dead Hawthorn leaves, so they are both obviously anamorphs. Without the substrate info I might have thought the stalked disco sexual form had been found. Having the precise same name for two entirely differently presenting forms is surely still a problem, despite the logic of DNA. It may be the same species, but to most folk mouldy Hawthorn leaves are a different kind of fungus to a nice stalked brown cup. It's not quite the same as a tadpole and a frog, or a Peony which flowers and one which doesn't. I think I'll add another column in my spreadsheet for "Anamorph?"...Taxonomy is of course a human invention and Mother nature isn't....
Steve

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Chris Yeates
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Re: Anamorphs

Post by Chris Yeates » Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:37 pm

Yes it doesn't immediately appear to be helpful but the real problems arise when the anamorphic name of a generic type predates that of the teleomorph - we could end up with lots of new, unfamiliar names unless common sense nomenclatural conservation takes place (as it probably will do in most cases).
It's worth watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYn6m6PA2Sc (and the other talks at this conference in Holland following the Melbourne one, which should appear at the right hand side of the Youtube page or will run automatically if you wait after each one).
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
Steely Dan - "Rose Darling"

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