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Genome mining from fungarium specimens

High throughput DNA sequencing has been used to produce the first fully-supported phylogeny of Agaricales.

The advent of high throughput DNA sequencing has had a major impact on many areas of biological research, including systematics where the use of genomic data for phylogeny reconstruction has been greatly accelerated. Yet, the utility of preserved natural history collections for generating genomic datasets is not well known.

A new study, published this week in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society and led by Kew scientists Bryn Dentinger and Ester Gaya, has applied high throughput sequencing to generate 14 whole genome sequences from fungarium specimens and newly collected fungi. The study, which compiled a dataset of >60,000 amino acids from over 200 genes for 35 taxa representing most of the known families of mushrooms in the order Agaricales, demonstrates the feasibility of using traditional fungarium collections for generating genomic datasets, and provides the first reliable subordinal classification for the group.

The study resulted in a robust and, for the first time, fully supported phylogeny of the Agaricales, enabling the recognition of seven suborders and providing a resource for testing hypotheses of the evolution of mushrooms. The study has also provided a set of top performing genes for future phylogenomic studies of fungi.


Dentinger, B.T.M., Gaya, E., O'Brien, H., Suz, L.M., Lachlan, R., Díaz-Valderrama, J.R., Koch, R.A. & Aime, M.C. (2015). Tales from the crypt: genome mining from fungarium specimens improves resolution of the mushroom tree of life. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Published on-line 20 May 2015; doi: 10.1111/bij.12553.