Montagnea haussknechtii Rab.,Sitzungsber. naturw Ges. ‘Isis’ Dresden 8, 1870. Fig. 8
MycoBank number: MB 295891; Index Fungorum number: IF 295891; Facesoffungi number: FoF 09751;
Fruiting Body –consisting of pileus, lamellae and centrally stipitate with a hard woody stipe. Pileus– 1.5–3.5 cm in diameter, usually truncate campanulate rarely becoming convex or applanate. The flesh of pileus reduced to a delicate membrane stretched over the lamellae, but thicker at the centre. At an early stage splitting radially near the disc but then reduced completely toward the margin of the cap. The gills then appear free and hang vertically downward attached to the disc. Colour range from grayish-white at the disc, where the surface may disrupt into small adpressed fibrillose scales, or appear ruptured radially to give a cog-wheel effect. Then, finally pileus becomes black exposing the lamellae. Lamellae– black, very crowded and radially oriented. Stipe– 7.0–10.5 × 0.5–1.0 cm, woody, white to cream, longitudinally wrinkled with a fibrillose surface or coarse squarrose scales, equal, or more tapered towards the base with a small inconspicuous, fibrillose volva and displaying a fringed margin. Hymenium– in dried specimens comprising of a uniform brown honeycomb-like surface of collapsed and strongly agglutinated 4-spored basidia. Spores– 5.5–8.0 × 3.0–4.5µm, appearing black in the mass, but brown under the microscope. elliptic, angular and diamond-shaped or ovoid in shape with a slightly thickened wall and an oblique germpore.
Ecology and Distribution – The ecology of Montagnea haussknechtii has been studied by (Jacobson 1996) on decomposing dung in the dry sand dunes of the Namib Desert (South Africa) which is one of the driest places on earth. Later, this xerophilic species was recorded from Brazil on sandy soil by Baseia & Milanez (2002).
Specimens examined – JNV/Mycl/184 on 20 July 2018 in zone IC only in sandy soil, collected by Reenu Chouhan. 28°01’3.43″N73°18’53.82″E Bikaner, elevation: 242 m (794 ft), 26°55’3.47″N70°54’13.93″E Jaisalmer, elevation: 225 m (738 ft), 28°18’0.00″N74°57’0.00″E Churu, elevation:292 m (958 ft).
Note – The taxonomic description of this species has been given by Reid & Eicker (1991) from South Africa. Montagnea haussknechtii has been recorded during intense forays of dry areas of Jaisalmer District. The woody nature of the fungal tissue specially in the stipe helps to withstand dessication and it is not easily eroded by the force of dry winds. Moreover, they contain agglutinated 4-spored basidia which ensure effective dispersal of spores in these sandy habitats. Hence, these fungi are interesting desert survival- adapted species that have evolved several adaptations. This has helped them to survive under these harsh environmental conditions (Jacobson, 1996).
There are controversies in the taxonomic position of Montagnea as Singer (1986) observed that the affinities of this new family Montagneaceae lie with Coprinaceae in the Agaricales. However, according to his writings “If there is such a thing as a Gasteromycete, Montagnea is one of them.” Furthermore, according to Vilgalys et al. (1993), there is evidence from the rDNA sequences data to support the long-held hypothesis for other close relationships among secotioid, false truffles, and agaric forms such as the shaggy mane mushroom, Coprinus comatus and the gasteroid forms of Montagnea and Podaxis.
Fig. 8–a Fruiting body of Montagnea haussknechtii on sand dunes in extreme desiccating conditions.b. Spores. Scale bar: a = 5 cm ,b = 20 µm.