Recently, I co-authored a paper (Schmull et al. 2011) in which we presented the results of analyses aimed at determining the phylogenetic placement of numerous lineages of lichen-forming fungi that were previously placed in the genus Lecidea based solely on morphology. For a long time, it has been known that the assemblage of species placed in Lecidea by Zahlbruckner did not form a single evolutionary lineage. However, placing all of the species in known families has been problematic. For our paper, we conducted two separate 6-gene analyses of lichen-forming fungi in the class Lecanoromycetes in order to infer the placement of twenty-five Lecidea taxa. Most species fell within three families: Lecanoraceae, Pilocarpaceae, and Lecideaceae (the familiy of the 'real' Lecidea). Those within the first two families will unquestionably need to be given new generic names in the near future. The main story that I hope will come out of this paper is that there is much more work to be done! We have used molecular data to demonstrate the scope of the problem with the genus Lecidea, but the definitive placement of all described species will require a great deal of additional study. I'm looking forward to continuing work on this group in the future!
Schmull, M., J. Miadlikowska, M. Pelzer, E. Stocker-Wörgötter, V. Hofstetter, E. Fraker, B. P. Hodkinson, V. Reeb, M. Kukwa, H. T. Lumbsch, F. Kauff, and F. Lutzoni. 2011. Phylogenetic affiliations of members of the heterogeneous lichen-forming genus Lecidea sensu Zahlbruckner (Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota). Mycologia 103(5): 983-1003.
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