Cathrin Manz's Master thesis was awarded with the Prize for the Best Plant Science Master Thesis, which was carried out at Philipps-Universität Marburg in the year 2019.
Title: "Diversity assessment of the ectomycorrhizal genus Russula in tropical montane forests in Panama"
For the first time Manz investigated the diversity of Russula species (“brittlegills”) in the mountain rainforests of Panama. More than 45 species were discovered for the first time for Panama with many of them new to science.
The diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi in the tropics is still largely underexplored, even though they constitute a key component of tropical montane forest ecosystems. In this study, 106 collections of the genus Russula (“brittlegills”) were collected in Chiriquí, Panama and described as fresh fruiting bodies. The samples were analysed with phylogenetic methods using the universal fungal barcode ITS. The resulting phylogenetic tree revealed a total number of 90 Russula species in Panama of which 47 species were newly recorded for this country. Among these samples are many putatively new species. A selection of four new Russula species from subsection Roseinae were analysed morphologically by light and scanning electron microscopy in the context of the master thesis. Five patterns for ectomycorrhizal partners and geographic distribution were revealed. Facing habitat loss and climate change, it is today more than ever necessary to collect and store specimens with associated data and to openly share these resources. Otherwise many species will become extinct unnoticed.
Cathrin Manz conducted this work at the Department of Biology in the Research group mycology by Karl-Heinz Rexer.