This pre-conference field trip to the southern Sierra’s was a repeat performance of an earlier pre-meeting foray that took place in 1996 prior to the 1st International Conference on Mycorrhizae. That conference was hosted by Tom Bruns and his colleagues from UC Berkeley, who also hosted this year’s Mycological Society meetings.
Using the Lake Shore Resort at Huntington Lake as our base camp, we collected fungi from the Sierra National Forest between 2000-3000 m. The area is located between Yosemite and King’s Canyon National Parks. This snowmelt-driven mountain ecosystem is a famous evolutionary hotspot with many highly endemic plants and fungi, including a rich abundance of truffles and classic secotioid fungal species that represent ‘missing links’ in mushroom evolution (the “Secotioid Syndrome” described by Harry Thiers, 1984, Mycologia 76:1–8). I was also thrilled to find several species of Suillus for our ongoing genomics work, including S. megaporinus, a bizarre little bolete with a highly upturned pileus that closes back on itself to reveal a fully exposed pore surface (an ‘inverse truffle’). These forests are full of so many beautiful trees that I could not stop photographing them, including Abies magnifica, Abies concolor, Pinus jeffreyi, Pinus lambertiana, Pinus monticola, Pinus contorta, Calocedrus decurrens and Sequoiadendron giganteum. We also saw many beautiful mycoheterotophic species, including Pterospora and Sarcodes spp. The foray organizers, Dan Luoma and Joyce Eberhardt did an amazing job transporting our eager group to and from the mountains. We are all very grateful for their work to organize this fine little expedition prior to the MSA meetings!
Here are some of the cool fungi we found:
Here are some shots of the amazing forests and plants that we saw in the Sierras: