Guyanagaster, a new wood-decaying sequestrate fungal genus related to Armillaria (Physalacriaceae, Agaricales, Basidiomycota)

Premise of the study : Sequestrate basidiomycete fungi (e.g. “ gasteromycetes ” ) have foregone ballistospory and evolved alternative, often elaborate mechanisms of basidiospore dispersal with highly altered basidioma morphology. Sequestrate fungi have independently evolved in numerous Agaricomycete lineages, confounding taxonomic arrangements of these fungi for decades. Understanding the multiple origins and taxonomic affi nities of sequestrate fungi provides insight into the evolutionary forces that can drastically alter basidioma morphology. In the neotropical rainforests of the Guiana Shield, we encountered a remarkable sequestrate fungus fruiting directly on decaying hardwood roots. The fungus ’ singular combination of traits include a wood-decaying habit; black, verrucose peridium; reduced stipe; and gelatinized basidiospore mass. • Methods : Guyanagaster necrorhiza gen. et sp. nov. is described. Macro- and micromorphological characters were assessed and compared to most similar taxa. To determine the phylogenetic affi nities of the fungus, DNA sequence data were obtained for the 18S, ITS, and 28S rDNA, RBP2 , and EF1 α regions and subjected to single- and multi-gene analyses. DNA sequences from fungal vegetative organs growing on decaying woody roots confi rmed the wood-inhabiting lifestyle of Guyanagaster . • Key results : Guyanagaster is morphologically unique among sequestrate fungi worldwide. Phylogenetic evidence places Guyanagaster in close relation to the wood-decaying mushroom genus Armillaria in the Physalacriaceae (Agaricales, Agaricomycetes, Basidiomycota). • Conclusions : Guyanagaster represents an independently evolved sequestrate form within the Physalacriaceae. Although molecular data confi rm that Guyanagaster is closely related to Armillaria , the unusual features of this fungus suggest a case of radically divergent morphological evolution.