Currently fruiting bodies of this species have only been recorded from southern Patagonia. Recent root tip analysis (Tedersoo and Smith 2013) has shown that this species occurs in northern Patagonia too, but there have been no known collections of fruiting bodies in this area yet. Excluding lineages from Tedersoo and Smith (2013) that come from species other than Nothofagus pumilio (the predominant host in southern Patagonia) a population size of 2,500 mature individuals has been estimated across Patagonia. There is a large amount of uncertainty regarding this estimate, though, and if we restricted the estimation to only where fruiting bodies are known, then we would calculate only 500 mature individuals. Given this large amount of uncertainty, the species has therefore been assessed as Near Threatened.
Basionym: Jafneadelphus echinatus Gamundí.
Following Tedersoo and Smith (2013), we based our assessment strictly from the ITS lineage that corresponds to the fruiting body collection from Magallanes (GenBank: KC905033).
We propose to include this species in the global red list, considering its restricted distribution in Southern Patagonia, its specific association with Nothofagus spp., and its intriguing evolutionary history as an ectomycorrhizal ascomycete.
Fruiting bodies of Aleurina echinata are currently known from a few localities scattered in southern Patagonia (Magallanes region in Chile and Tierra del Fuego in Argentina). Based on root tip data, there is evidence that suggests that Aleurina echinata may occur in northern Patagonia so the distribution rage of the species is probably much larger in the soil (Tedersoo and Smith 2013).
The small fruiting bodies hidden in leaf litter are easily overlooked, therefore, more populations are likely to occur than the few, known, scattered localities. Based on fruiting bodies, its distribution seems to be restricted to southern Patagonia (Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego), but root tip data from northern Patagonia indicate that the distribution range of the species is probably much larger in the soil (Tedersoo and Smith 2013). Following Tedersoo and Smith (2013), we based our population size estimate strictly from the ITS lineage that corresponds to the fruiting body collection from Magallanes (GenBank: KC905033), and is only known from Nothofagus pumilio. There are other closely related lineages, associated with other Nothofagus spp. in northern Patagonia, but these are not included, as we are not certain that they correspond to this species. Based on the distribution of N. pumilio in southern Patagonia, the population size in this area (where it is known from fruiting bodies) is estimated to be c. 500 mature individuals. If we then assume that the species could be present throughout the distribution of N. pumilio, then we could approximate a total estimate of 2,500 mature individuals for this species, although there is much uncertainty.
In southern Patagonia, collections from early 1900’s to present (2017) seem to indicate that the species is stable in the area, but given the uncertainty over its total range, the overall population trend is uncertain.
Population Trend: Uncertain
This ectomycorrhizal species strictly associates with Nothofagus trees. In southern Patagonia, fruiting bodies have been found beneath N. pumilio and potentially also N. betuloides (present at low abundance in some localities). Root tip data of at least two ECM lineages closely related to Aleurina echinata from northern Patagonia were sampled from other Nothofagus species (i.e. N. dombeyi, N. alpina) so the host range is potentially much larger in the soil (Tedersoo and Smith 2013). However, in this assessment we have only included the lineage associated with N. pumilio.
Nothofagus pumilio forests of southern Patagonia are relatively well-conserved but increasing pressure from tourism, cattle, logging and forest fires (intentional and accidental) are a growing threat. Threats such as forest fires and cattle ranching are a particular threat in the potential northern part of its range.
Some of the localities are within protected area (Magallanes Nacional reserve, Tierra del Fuego National Park). Raising awareness of this species to try to reduce the impact of tourism may be beneficial, as would implementing practices to reduce the impact of cattle within the species’ range.
Tedersoo and Smith (2013) have identified several lineages that could be assigned to this species as a potential species complex, so further taxonomic work is required to finalise the delimitation of the species. Sequence data for this species is available from GenBank, which may be useful for such research (NCBI 2020). Further research is needed to find out whether more subpopulations exist and to what extent the geographic distribution of the species may extend further north in association with other Nothofagus species. Knowledge about its habitat requirements would be beneficial to assess its conservation status.
No use or trade is known.
Gamundí, I. J., and Amos, V. (2007). Exploraciones micológicas en Tierra del Fuego. Bol. Soc. Argent. Bot., 42, 131–148.
Gamundí, I. J., Minter, D. W., Romero, A. I., Barrera, V. A., Giaiotti, A. L., Messuti, M. I., & Stecconi, M. (2004). Catálogo de los Discomycetes (Fungi) de Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego y áreas antárticas adjacentes. Darwiniana, 42, 63–164.
NCBI. 2020. GenBank. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/
Tedersoo, L., and Smith, M. E. (2013). Lineages of ectomycorrhizal fungi revisited: Foraging strategies and novel lineages revealed by sequences from belowground. Fungal Biology Reviews, 27, 83–99.