Jelly Fungi

The last group of Basidiomycetes that we will discuss has commonly been referred to as the "Jelly Fungi" because of the jelly-like consistency of the basidiocarp. This type of basidiocarp becomes shrunken and shriveled, when dried, but with available moisture revives to its former consistency. This type of basidiocarp is said to be gelatinous.The life cycle of this order is the same as that in mushrooms. There are several orders in this group of fungi and they are delimited by the morphology of their basidium. The basidia are typically septate, the exception being the tunning fork basidium, which is aseptate, but is deeply lobed and produce only two basidiospores. Three orders will be described below: The Tremellales, Auriculariales and Dacrymycetales.

Order: Tremellales

This order produces cruciate septate basidia (Fig. 1). This basidium type is so-called because when viewed, from above, under a compound microscope, the basidium can be seen to be divided, evenly, into four chambers by septa that intersect at right angles. The intersection of the septa forms a cross or crucifix. The basidiocarps are too variable to describe. However, we will look at a few species of Tremella that can be found in Hawai‘i (Fig 2-3).

Tremella_basidium-t.jpg (26381 bytes) Figure 1: A cruciate septate basidium. Unfortunately, this is not a top view of the basidium. Thus, you will be unable to see the cruciate septa. A single septum can be seen, along the globose, basal part of the basidium. The red coloration of the basidium is from the 1% phloxine stain that has been used to mount this section.
Figure 2: Tremella fuciformis has a white, glistening, foliose, and sometimes translucent basidiocarp, when fresh. This is the same species that is cultivated in Japan, People's Republic of China and Taiwan. 
Figure 3: Tremella boraborensis has a black, cerebriform basidiocarp, with hollow lobes. 

Order: Auriculariales

This order is characterized by having a transversely septate basidium (Fig. 4).  As is the case of the Tremellales, many species have a gelatinous basidiocarp, reminiscent of the consistency of jelly. There is only one common, obvious species in Hawai‘i, Auricularia cornea (Fig. 5)

Transversely_septate_basidium-t.jpg (28130 bytes) Figure 4: A transversely septate basidium of the genus Helicogloea. This genus was used rather than Auricularia because the basidia of Auricularia are compactly held together by a gelatinous matrix that will not come apart, making it impossible to make observe an individual basidium.
auricult.jpg (6295 bytes) Figure 5: A cluster of Auricularia cornea growing on a fallen log. This species is commonly cultivated in Asia and the South Pacific. Locally, it is called "pepeiao" or "ear".

Order: Dacrymycetales

This order is characterized by presence of a tunning ford basidium (Fig. 6). The basidiocarps are typically some shade of yellow-orange and is gelatinous, as in the other two orders. Only a few common species occur in Hawai‘i (Fig. 7-9)

Tunning_fork-t.jpg (27456 bytes) Figure 6: A tunning fork basidium. The name is based on its resemblance to a tunning fork. It differs from other basidia in that only two basidiospores are produced per basidium.
Dacryopinax_spathularia-t.jpg (21955 bytes) Figure 7: Dacryopinax spathularia. Although common, in Hawai‘i, its small size has probably contributed to its anonymity.
Calocera_cornea-t.jpg (27515 bytes) Figure 8: Calocera cornea. This species is both small and uncommon in Hawai‘i.
Dacrymyces_palmatus-t.jpg (31447 bytes) Figure 9: Dacrymyces palmatus. A common temperate species that does not occur in Hawai‘i.

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