Home • Cortinarius austrovenetus TL2843-KIS7R v1.0
Cortinarius austrovenetus.
Cortinarius austrovenetus. Deep Creek Conservation Park, South Australia. Image by David Catcheside.

Cortinarius is a large genus of fungi containing both mushroom and truffle like species, most of which form ectomycorrhizal associations with trees. Cortinarius austrovenetus is broadly distributed in Eucalyptus forests in southern Australia and is thought to form ectomycorrhizae with a wide range of Eucalypt species. The fungus forms a sock-like envelope (mantle) around roots and the hyphae interpenetrate between plant cells forming a Hartig net where carbon from plant photosynthesis is exchanged for phosphorus, nitrogen and water. The fine mycelial strands of the fungus can access supplies of water and minerals from soil locations inaccessible by the thicker plant roots. This symbiosis makes C. austrovenetus one of the group of fungi indispensable for the health of Eucalyptus species, many of which have potential as energy crops. The lignocellulose of Eucalypt timber can be used as a feedstock for processes under development that use fungi to produce fuel ethanol. The genome of C. austrovenetus will help reveal how mushroom-like Cortinarius species gave rise to truffle-like species that are better adapted to a dry climate. In contrast to the fruiting bodies of mushroom relatives that disperse spores in the wind and are vulnerable to desiccation, truffle fruiting bodies are underground-protected from rapid desiccation and their spores are dispersed by mycophagous small mammals. Given the predictions of climate change, understanding pathways to the development of subterranean fruiting may be crucial for managing the health of future forestry energy plantations.