Morphological and Molecular Characterization, Diversity and Ethnomycological Studies on Wild Mushrooms of Central and Northwest Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa Universty


The diversity and ecology of fungi in general and macrofungi in particular, have been largely neglected in Ethiopia. In this context, this research aimed at providing documentation and analysis of wild mushroom diversity along with the ethnomycological knowledge associated with wild edible and medicinal mushrooms. Mushroom samples were collected from 48 plots (30 m × 30 m) of three different habitat type (forest, grazing land and farming area) over three years (2012 – 2014) from two study sites located in central (Welmera district) and Northwest (Menge district) parts of Ethiopia. Both morphological and molecular (ITS and partial LSU rDNA sequences) data were used for specimen identification. Maximum parsimony (MP), Maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian posterior probabilities (PP) were used for phylogenetic analysis. A hierarchical cluster analysis, with statistical program R was used to identify macrofungal community type and synoptic values to indicate dominant species in each community. Shannon-Wiener diversity index and Sorensen's similarity coefficient were used to assess species richness and evenness and to measure similarities among communities. Ethnomycological data were collected using semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation and walk-in-the-woods methods. Ethnomycological knowledge held by different informant categories was compared using One-way ANOVA and t-tests. Results in this study showed, a total of 105 species belong to 23 families and 49 genera. About 95% of the species identified in this study are new records for Ethiopia. Family Agaricaceae (49), Lyophyllaceae (12), Tricholomataceae (9) and Psathyrellaceae (6) were represented by more species which together accounted for 74.4% of the total. The observed Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H'=3.76) of WFO showed the highest species diversity and the highest species richness (S= 62). Results of the ethnomycological study revealed 15 wild edible and medicinal mushroom species belonging to 7 genera and 5 families that are used mainly as food in the Menge District. Family Lyophyllaceae with 9 species (45%) was found to be best represented in the area. Ethnomycological knowledge is significantly influenced by gender, age, experience and litracy level parameters. Preference ranking exercise has indicated Termitomyces schimperi was ranked first followed by T. letestui, T. microcarpus and T. eurhizus as the second, third and fourth preferred edible mushrooms respectively. The phylogenetic relationship of 33 Ethiopian Agaricus collection with other members of the genus from tropical/subtropical and temprate region was compared based on morphological and molecular (ITS 1+2 rDNA sequences) characteristics. More than two-third of the Ethiopian Agaricus sequences examined in this study was distributed amongst four of the eight well accepted/temprate sections of the subgenus Agaricus. The remaining six Ethiopian sequences group together with four distinct and exclusively tropical (African and/or Asian) clades with ML/MP/PP branch support 99/100/100, 100/100/100, 83/75/90, 85/75/90 respectively. None of the Ethiopian sequences in the dataset belongs to section Arvenses, Bivelares, Chitonioides and Spissicaules. This study also shown that A. campestris, A. cupreobrunneus, A.bohusii, A. purpurellus, A. subsaharianus and A. heterocystis, which are known to be edible are highly recommended for domestication and cultivation because of their good nutritional and medicinal value. Generally, the present study indicated that country is rich in wild mushroom diversity and associated indigenous knowledge. However, anthropogenic factors together with loss of indiginous knowledge and very poor conservation efforts threaten economically and ecologically important mushrooms survival in the area. Thus, complementary in-situ and ex-situ conservation strategy at national level is highly recommended. Key words: Welmera, Menge, wild mushrooms, diversity, molecular phylogeny, traditional knowledge



Welmera, Menge, Wild mushrooms, Diversity, Molecular phylogeny, Traditional knowledge