Observation 20984: Gyromitra melaleucoides (Seaver) Pfister
When: 2009-05-12
Herbarium specimen reported

Notes: Why is it I can’t find spores in some of these ascos no matter where I section the hymenium?? Same thing with Pseudorhizina californica. All I find is a bunch of long cylindrical asci filled with golden oil drops that clear in K.

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Used references: Fungi of Switzerland

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not on wood
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2009-05-13 11:37:23 PDT (-0700)

Nothing but dirt. Whatever they’re deriving nutrients from was nowhere close to the fruiting bodies (or completely hidden from sight).

Thanks, Irene! Here I thought I was lucky to find them so “fresh”. I’ll wait for them to get nice and crusty before I collect them next time. :)

were thy growing on wood?
By: Johannes Harnisch (Johann Harnisch)
2009-05-13 10:58:45 PDT (-0700)

it dosen’t look that way…
BTW are they saprophytic or Mycorrhizal
Yes they do look very young

Looks like Discina to me
By: Irene Andersson (irenea)
2009-05-13 10:55:32 PDT (-0700)
and very young ones, that explains why there are no spores yet. I usually have the same trouble finding mature spores in these, as well as in Gyromitra and many other ascomycetes that fruit early in the spring.

It has always been difficult to decide what species they belong to, when you have to key them out by size and ornamentation of the spores.

how do you know it is not a Discina?
By: Johannes Harnisch (Johann Harnisch)
2009-05-13 10:11:24 PDT (-0700)

It doesn’t look like Discina to me though

I guess leave it sit around awhile for spores ..lol

Seems to be a common problem with these
By: Douglas Smith (douglas)
2009-05-13 05:27:50 PDT (-0700)

Here there were a bunch of Discina found this past week, along with a Gyromitra and people were complaining about these, and how they don’t seem to produce spores until they are almost old and gone.

No dice
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2009-05-12 23:45:40 PDT (-0700)

Thanks, Christian. Good idea. Tried staining with Lugol’s after washing with KOH. Now I have lovely golden asci that are apparently still entirely empty.

There are a couple saxicolous lichen genera (Rhizocarpon comes to mind) that also produce absurd quantities of sterile asci and paraphyses, where you often have to examine several sections carefully in order to find even a few spores. I wonder if some ascomycetes have the same “problem”. (And if so how do I avoid them? :)

Then on the other end of the spectrum you have Verpa bohemica which is busy turning a large patch of my desk ochre even after apparently drying out — I’ve never seen any other ascomycete produce such quantities of spores!

Finding spores…
By: Christian (Christian Schwarz)
2009-05-12 23:12:26 PDT (-0700)

Hey Jason
It sounds like you are finding spores (it’s the spores that contain the oil droplets), but maybe are having trouble differentiating them from the walls of the asci. If your microscope has a good oil immersion lens this shouldn’t be an issue, but with lower magnification it can definitely cause problems with hyaline material(clear in KOH or water. One thing you might try is exploiting the iodine reactions of the tip of the ascus in some taxa. This will give you an idea of where the walls of the ascus are. Also, you might try practicing with Geoglossum or Trichoglossum that have huge, septate, pigmented spores that can’t be missed in loose balloon-like asci. However, the asci are often deeply embedded in with the paraphyses so a squash mount helps to separate out the component layers.

Good luck, and hope this helps.

Created: 2009-05-12 22:52:14 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2009-05-12 22:52:14 PDT (-0700)
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