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A New Edible Mushroom Species Has Been Discovered in the Forests of Mexico
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A New Edible Mushroom Species Has Been Discovered in the Forests of Mexico

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
April 17, 2024
2 min

Scientists in Mexico have discovered a new species of edible mushroom, Agaricus cervinoculus, in the lush forests of Xalapa, Veracruz. This finding emphasizes the complexity and richness of the region’s biodiversity and highlights the importance of continued scientific exploration of these ecosystems.

Discovery of Agaricus cervinoculus

Currently, there are 55 known wild species, the Agaricus genus in Mexico, making up approximately 10% of the world’s known species. Twenty-two of these species are traditionally consumed within local communities. Yet, despite this variety, identifying these species is complicated for researchers due to the lack of clear identification guides, the difficulty in recognizing their unique physical features, and the need for more detailed studies on certain groups within the genus.

Among the species commonly eaten in the area is one locally known as “Ojo de Venado.” This mushroom has been previously identified as a different Agaricus species, A. sylvaticus. However, recent phylogenetic analyses have shown that what was sold in markets under this name actually includes at least two distinct species from the Agaricus section, Subrutilescentes. Of these two species, one has been newly identified as Agaricus cervinoculus (1). This discovery challenges precious classifications and brings new insights into the biodiversity of the region.

How new mushrooms are identified

Fungi within the same genus can sometimes be tricky to tell apart due to subtle variations in their physical characteristics and overlapping ecological niches. To ensure accurate identification and classification, mycologists need to perform a detailed comparative analysis against known species. One aspect of this analysis involves comparing multiple species side by side to determine consistent differences in features that may not be immediately obvious at first glance, such as subtle variations in color, texture, or the shape of microscopic structures.

However, to make a definitive identification, scientists must also extract DNA from the species and conduct phylogenetic analysis to compare genetic similarities and differences and determine the genetic relationships between the selected fungi species. This method helps to confirm whether the specimens belong to a known species or represent a new discovery.

Agaricus cervinoculus was compared to four other samples from various local Agaricus species and was found to have its own unique morphological characteristics, indicating that the mushroom is, in fact, a newly discovered species.

Implications of the discovery

There are an estimated 2.2 to 3.8 million species of fungi on Earth, yet only around 120,000 species have been formally identified and described by scientists (2). Every year, approximately 2,000 new species of fungi are discovered, largely due to advances in molecular biology techniques like DNA sequencing. As a result, researchers are capable of identifying and classifying fungi more accurately than ever before. 

Nonetheless, the identification of this new mushroom species highlights the need for a more accurate classification of the genus. Studying these species’ ecology, distribution, and evolutionary relationships can offer valuable data for potential applications in biotechnology and medicine.

References

  1. Palestina-Villa, Elvia Naara, Roberto Garibay-Orijel, Jie Chen, Luis Alberto Parra, Bernardo Águila, and Rosario Medel-Ortiz. 2024. “Agaricus Cervinoculus Sp. Nov. (Agaricaceae), a New Wild Edible Mushroom from Mexico.” Phytotaxa 642 (4): 229–41. https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.642.4.1.
  2. Hawksworth, David L., and Robert Lücking. 2017. “Fungal Diversity Revisited: 2.2 to 3.8 Million Species.” The Fungal Kingdom 5 (4): 79–95. https://doi.org/10.1128/microbiolspec.funk-0052-2016.

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science
Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

Table Of Contents

1
Discovery of Agaricus cervinoculus
2
How new mushrooms are identified
3
Implications of the discovery
4
References

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