This fungus is an exceptionally rare obligate symbiont of endemic Podocarpus trees in the Caribbean. With fewer than 20 records, the last known being in 1944, and with several unsuccessful searches for it between 1997 and 2006, there is a danger that this species may now be extinct.
Apparently endemic to a few islands in the Caribbean: Cuba, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia. Records up to 915 m above sea level.
The trees on which this fungus occurs are endemics of Caribbean islands, themselves with highly fragmented populations and mostly vulnerable, threatened or endangered. Searches of native Podocarpus in Cuba (Sancti Spíritus, Sierra Maestra) over several years from 1997 to 2006 failed to find the fungus (Minter, 2006). This suggests that the fungus may not occur in every place where its associated trees occur. It may also suggest a decline in populations of the fungus. This fungus has been observed probably fewer than 20 times. Most recent records are: Cuba , Jamaica , Saint Kitts and Nevis , Saint Lucia . With no recent records, extent of occurrence cannot meaningfully be estimated. Area of occupancy has probably never been more than 100 km squared.
Population Trend: Deteriorating
This species produces stromata and fruitbodies on dead portions of green leaves and stems of the conifer genus Podocarpus. The life-cycle and biology have not been investigated, but disruption of colonized leaves is very localized, suggesting that the plant is well adapted to the presence of the fungus. There are no reports of the fungus causing harmful effects to the trees colonized. There is, for example, no evidence of premature leaf fall. The possibility that the fungus may have some beneficial effect on the tree has not been considered. Associated plant species are: Podocarpus angustifolius [endangered], P. aristulatus [vulnerable, also under its synonym P. buchii], P. coriacea [least concern], P. purdieanus [threatened], and Podocarpus sp.
Fragmentation of habitat and decline in populations of its associated trees are the principal threats. In the Caribbean, Podocarpus species tend to be montane. With climate change, and in particular with global warming, the trees and their associated fungi may have no cooler higher altitude available for their retreat. Conserving the associated tree ex situ will not necessarily result in conservation of the fungus.
Make site managers and other relevant people aware that this fungus is at least as (and probably more) threatened as the trees on which it grows, and also needs to be conserved. Alert them that the fungus should not be regarded as a threat to the tree, but more as an important component of the complex ecosystem in which the tree grows.
Ex situ conservation. A search of fungal culture collections found none with isolates of this species. No genetic material of this species is listed in Genbank.
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