Serpula himantioides (Boletales, Basidiomycota) produces thin resupinate basidiocarps on dead coniferous wood worldwide and causes damage in buildings as well. In this study, we present evidence for the existence of at least three phylogenetically defined cryptic species (referred to as Sib I–III) within the morphospecies S. himantioides, a conclusion based on analyses of sequence data from four DNA regions and amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPS). A low degree of shared sequence polymorphisms was observed among the three lineages indicating a long-lasting separation. The AFLPs revealed two additional subgroups within Sib III. Results from mating studies were consistent with the molecular data. In Sib III, no correspondence between genetic and geographical distance was observed among isolates worldwide, presumably reflecting recent dispersal events. Our results indicate that at least two of the lineages (Sib II and Sib III) have wide sympatric distributions. A population genetic analysis of Sib III isolates, scoring sequence polymorphisms as codominant SNP markers, indicates that panmictic conditions exist in the Sib III group. This study supports the view that cryptic speciation is a common phenomenon in basidiomycete fungi and that phylogenetic species recognition can be a powerful inference to detect cryptic species. Furthermore, this study shows that AFLP data are a valuable supplement to DNA sequence data in that they may detect a finer level of genetic variation.
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