Genetic diversity of the endemic gourmet mushroom Thelephora ganbajun from south-western China
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The ectomycorrhizal fungus Thelephora ganbajun is an endemic gourmet mushroom in Yunnan province, south-western China. However, despite its widespread consumer appeal, nutritional value and potential ecological role in natural forests, very little is known about its genetics, diversity and ecology. In this study, we investigated DNA sequence variation at the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions among 156 specimens collected from 23 sites of nine regions in Yunnan Province. Our analysis identified a total of 34 ITS haplotypes and these haplotypes were clustered into five distinct phylogenetic groups. The evolutionary divergences among these clades are similar to or greater than many known sister species pairs within the genus Thelephora and the closely related genus Tomentella. Among the 34 ITS haplotypes, 22 were represented by one specimen each and the remaining 12 were each shared by two or more specimens. The most common haplotype contained 68 specimens distributed in 21 of the 23 sites, a result consistent with gene flow among geographical populations. However, analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed low but significant genetic differentiation among local and regional populations. Interestingly, the Mantel test identified that the extent of genetic differentiation was not significantly correlated with geographical distance. Our study revealed significant genetic divergence within Th. ganbajun and limited but detectable gene flow among geographical populations of this endemic ectomycorrhizal gourmet mushroom.
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