Species of Russula are ubiquitous members of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities in tropical ecosystems. However, an important part of the total tropical diversity of this genus and its biogeographic patterns is unknown due to the lack of studies on Russula in tropical ecosystems. We combined molecular, morphological, ecological, and biogeographic data to elaborate concepts for two new subspecies of R. floriformis (subsection Substriatinae). Russula floriformis subsp. floriformis and R. floriformis subsp. symphoniae are described as new from montane forest dominated by Quercus and/or Oreomunnea (Fagales) from Colombia and Panama, respectively. Phylogenies were constructed using nuc rDNA internal transcribed spacer region ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 (ITS), D1–D2 domains of nuc 28S rDNA (28S), and partial regions of the second largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (rpb2) and translation elongation factor 1-alpha (tef1). Similar environmental conditions, similar morphology, and an ITS sequence similarity higher than 99% with only three different positions indicate that these two subspecies are closely related. Detailed observations of microscopic structures and analyses of further DNA loci, however, revealed morphological and molecular characteristics that allow distinguishing the two subspecies of R. floriformis. Spatial distribution and phylogenetic proximity of the two Russula subspecies and their ectomycorrhizal hosts, i.e., species of Quercus, suggest that their diversification is a result of comigration, adaptation, and geographic isolation along the Isthmus of Panama during the Pliocene and Pleistocene.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecología, evolución, comportamiento y sistemática
- Biología molecular
- Biología celular