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Evolution. 2017 Jan;71(1):51-65. doi: 10.1111/evo.13099. Epub 2016 Nov 11.

Is the switch to an ectomycorrhizal state an evolutionary key innovation in mushroom-forming fungi? A case study in the Tricholomatineae (Agaricales).

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, 569 Dabney Hall, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37996-1610.
Current Address: Biology Department, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, 01610.


Although fungi are one of the most diverse groups of organisms, little is known about the processes that shape their high taxonomic diversity. This study focuses on evolution of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) mushroom-forming fungi, symbiotic associates of many trees and shrubs, in the suborder Tricholomatineae of the Agaricales. We used the BiSSE model and BAMM to test the hypothesis that the ECM habit represents an evolutionary key innovation that allowed the colonization of new niches followed by an increase in diversification rate. Ancestral state reconstruction (ASR) supports the ancestor of the Tricholomatineae as non-ECM. We detected two diversification rate increases in the genus Tricholoma and the Rhodopolioid clade of the genus Entoloma. However, no increases in diversification were detected in the four other ECM clades of Tricholomatineae. We suggest that diversification of Tricholoma was not only due to the evolution of the ECM lifestyle, but also to the expansion and dominance of its main hosts and ability to associate with a variety of hosts. Diversification in the Rhodopolioid clade could be due to the unique combination of spore morphology and ECM habit. The spore morphology may represent an exaptation that aided spore dispersal and colonization. This is the first study to investigate rate shifts across a phylogeny that contains both non-ECM and ECM lineages.


Basidiomycota; ecological opportunity; macroevolution; speciation and extinction

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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