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Boletus meiweiniuganjun is one of three newly described, edible species of Boletus mushroom discovered by researchers as a result of a molecular examination of contents from a commercial packet of “porcini mushrooms” harvested in Yunnan, China and exported to London, UK. The packaged mushrooms themselves appeared almost identical morphologically to Boletus edulis and (evidently) included interchangeably in commercial sales.However, rather than recovering DNA sequences identified as Boletus edulis, the species standardly considered to be the “porcini mushroom,” or sequences identified as B. aereus, to which previous studies found that porcini mushrooms of Chinese origin were more closely related (Dentinger et al. 2010, Feng et al 2012), scientists found that the samples from the packet yielded one of three distinct sequence types that didn’t match any described species. The finding indicated that this package in fact held three new species, and that the term “porcini” is a “gastronomical label more than it is scientific” (Kachur 2014).

The name Boletus meiweiniuganjun is derived from the Chinese translation for (what is thought to be) Boletus edulis: 美味牛肝菌, which approximately translates to “delicious cattle liver fungus”. The other two species found in this study were named B. bainiugan and B. shiyong. Names, descriptions, voucher information and GenBank accession numbers for the three taxa are published online at http://www.indexfungorum.org/Publications/Index%20Fungorum%20no.29.pdf using Index Fungorum’s rapid publishing system (Dentinger 2013).

These analyses were conducted by sequencing the full internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region from the nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) from 15 mushroom pieces chosen at random from the package was amplified sequenced and compared against homologous ITS regions from known Boletus species using “turbo-taxonomy.”This rapid technique of analyzing “barcode sequences” such as the ITS spacer can readily match a barcode sequence with others in databanks of identified sequences, to diagnose genetically distinct “phylogenetic units” that represent otherwise indistinguishable species.These powerful molecular tools and analysis allow far greater identification and tracking of food products. Also, automated identification of species will certainly accelerate our understanding of the biological diversity mostly hidden in cryptic species such as these (Dentinger and Suz 2014; Kachur 2014).

Dana Campbell
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