Fungal species with a broad distribution may exhibit considerable genetic variation over their geographic ranges. Variation may develop among populations based on geographic isolation, lack of migration, and genetic drift, though this genetic variation may not always be evident when examining phenotypic characters. Fomitopsis pinicola is an abundant saprotrophic fungus found on decaying logs throughout temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Phylogenetic studies have addressed the relationship of F. pinicola to other wood-rotting fungi, but pan-continental variation within F. pinicola has not been addressed using molecular data. While forms found growing on hardwood and softwood hosts exhibit variation in habit and appearance, it is unknown if these forms are genetically distinct. In this study, we generated DNA sequences of the nuc rDNA internal transcribed spacers (ITS), the TEF1 gene encoding translation elongation factor 1-α, and the RPB2 gene encoding the second largest subunit of RNA polymerase II for collections across all major geographic regions where this fungus occurs, with a primary focus on North America. We used Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses and evaluated the gene trees within the species tree using coalescent methods to elucidate evolutionarily independent lineages. We find that F. pinicola sensu lato encompasses four well-supported, congruent clades: a European clade, southwestern US clade, and two sympatric northern North American clades. Each clade represents distinct species according to phylogenetic and population-genetic species concepts. Morphological data currently available for F. pinicola do not delimit these species, and three of the species are not specific to either hardwood or softwood trees. Originally described from Europe, F. pinicola appears to be restricted to Eurasia. Based on DNA data obtained from an isotype, one well-defined and widespread clade found only in North America represents the recently described Fomitopsis ochracea The remaining two North American clades represent previously undescribed species.
Keywords: Bayesian; coalescent; maximum likelihood; phylogenetic species; polyporoid clade; species tree.
© 2016 by The Mycological Society of America.