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Fossil Mushrooms from Miocene and Cretaceous Ambers and the Evolution of Homobasidiomycetes

David S. Hibbett, David Grimaldi and Michael J. Donoghue
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 84, No. 7 (Jul., 1997), pp. 981-991
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2446289
Page Count: 11
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Fossil Mushrooms from Miocene and Cretaceous Ambers and the Evolution of Homobasidiomycetes
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Abstract

Two species of fossil mushrooms that are similar to extant Tricholomataceae are described from Cretaceous and Miocene ambers Archaeomarasmius leggetti gen. et sp. nov., from mid-cretaceous amber of New Jersey, resembles the extant genera Marasmius and Marasmiellus Two fruiting bodies of Archaeomarasmius were found. One consists of a complete pileus with stipe, and the other consists of a fragment of a pileus The latter was accidentally exposed, and zxsubsequently was used for molecular systematics studies (attempts to amplify ribosomal DNA were unsuccessful) and electron microscopy. The spores are smooth and broadly elliptic with a distinct hilar appendage. Protomycena electra gen. et sp. nov., which is represented by a single complete fruiting body from Miocene amber of the Dominican Republic, is similar to the extant genus Mycena. Based on comparison to extant Marasmieae and Myceneae, Archaeomarasmius and Protomycena were probably saprophytes of leaf litter or wood debris. The poor phylogenetic resolution for extant homobasidiomycetes limits the inferences about divergence times of homobasidiomycete clades that can be drawn from Archaeomarasmius and Protomycena. The ages of these fossils lend support to hypotheses that the cosmopolitan distributions of certain mushroom taxa could be due to fragmentation of ancestral ranges via continental drift. Anatomical and molecular studies have suggested that there has been extensive convergence and parallelism in the evolution of homobasidiomycete fruiting body form. Nevertheless, the striking similarity of these fossils to extant forms suggests that in certain lineages homobasidiomycete macroevolution has also involved long periods during which there has been little morphological change.

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