Determining the Efficacy of Selected Conks of the Aphyllophorales Family for use as Heavy Metal Biomonitors. James G. Wells Departments of Biology and Chemistry & Biochemistry SUNY College at Oneonta. What makes an organism an effective biomonitor?.
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James G. Wells
Departments of Biology and Chemistry & Biochemistry
SUNY College at Oneonta
The research project that was carried out had two distinct parts.
The second part of the research was the analysis of the conks for selected heavy metals and the interpretation of the data.
Copper (Cu)- This metal, although known as a essential micronutrient for many organisms, is toxic to both plant and fungal species in higher concentrations.
Cadmium (Cd)- Cadmium is one of the most toxic heavy metals due to its observed toxicity at ppm concentrations to organisms ranging from microbes to human beings.
Lead (Pb)- Known to have been a probable cause of the demise of the roman empire, lead is a dangerous metal throughout the natural world having many deleterious effects in a multitude of organisms.
Strontium (Sr)- While normal strontium isn’t deleterious to health and is present in most natural systems, its primary radioisotope Sr-90 is uptaken and incorporated into bone structure in place of calcium.
Uranium (U)- Present in most natural systems, this metal can also be radioactive and is harmful when present in large amounts.
The metals of interest to this research are all present at some levels throughout most environments. So where do the higher amounts that are toxic come from?
Piptoporus betulinus (the Birch polypore)
Range: Wide range across temperate zones, limited by host tree: Betula sp.
Morphology: Annual sporocarp compromised of a thin tube layer with a considerably thicker body layer. much softer and pliable than others.
Physiology: Produces a carbonizing brown rot of the sapwood.
Due to host consideration, morphology, and unknowns concerning physiology P. betulinus appears to have very little benefit to be used as a biomonitor for heavy metals in the environment.
Range: This conk has a wide range worldwide in temperate and subtropical regions.
Morphology: The sporocarp of this species is perennial producing new spores yearly from the same tube layer so no tube layer stratification is formed.
Physiology: This fungus is a perennial white rot species that feeds on both the sapwood and heartwood of dead and living tress.
Due to what appears to be extreme variability the benefits of the morphology and physiology of this fungus are cancelled ruling this perennial, woody conk not fit for use as a biomonitor.
Range: This is a widespread fungus found worldwide in both temperate and tropical zones.
Morphology: While it is neither a polypore or a conk, this fungus produces an annual sporocarp. To say it isn’t woody is a vast understatement.
Physiology: This is a white rot fungus that attacks the heartwood of both living and, mainly, dead trees.
The use of this species as a biomonitor could have possible use, but the PI believes that this species could better be used as an indicator of the degree of safety in harvesting and consuming edible wild mushrooms. The alarmingly high amount of Cd present in the mushroom by dry weight helps with this inference .
Range: It has a wide range worldwide and is very oppurtunistic as far as host tree choices go. The PI received one sample of this species from a vine!
Morphology: This polypore is often found in groups on the same tree. The sporocarps can be quite variable in their structure and layer depths.
Physiology: A carbonizing brown rot fungi, this fungi directly attacks only the sapwood of living or soon to die trees.
Daedaleopsis confragosa, beside being a mouthful to say, appears to have very little use as a biomonitor for heavy metal contamination. Even though it is very common, the lack of distinction within the sporocarp coupled with the extreme variability of metal concentrations and the nature of its growth and physiology make this species not an acceptable biomonitor.
Range: This is the polypore for temperate deciduous forests. This is a cosmopolitan species that is found worldwide and is extremely common.
Morphology: The sporocarps often fuse together either laterally or vertically. They are thin and form only two discernible layers.
Physiology: This is a white rot species of fungus that infects and digests the heartwood of living and dead trees.
While the widespread growth and nature of digestion hint that this species would be a good biomonitor, the sporocarp morphology rules this polypore out for use as a heavy metal biomonitor.
Range: This is a widespread and fairly common conk. It is found worldwide and the only places that are not apt to be this fungi’s home are the artic extremes.
Morphology: The sporocarp produces distinct stratified yearly tube layers with some specimens actually reaching 20-30 years in age.
Physiology: G. applanatum is a species of white rot fungi. It infects trees and digests the heartwood.
The 2001 layer is statistically
different from the Cap and 2002
layers at the 95%
Variability of the metal concentrations in the separate layers of G. applanatum was tested. The results showed low variability in the same layer but differing concentrations in different layers. This means that theoretically the distinct layers can be analyzed to gain a qualitative chronological record for metal deposition in an area! Potentially, this species is a suitable biomonitor!
Pro’s: Aphyllophorales Family for use as Heavy Metal Biomonitors.
Is widespread and fairly common.
2+ sporocarps formed at one site.
Can be re-sampled in later years after new sporocarp growth.
Woody composition is likely to resist leaching.
Tube layer stratification allows for chronological data instead of just current data.
Is a species with probable considerable secondary heavy metal uptake from host.
Is woody and requires a chisel or prybar for sampling.
Bulky and large so storage could be an issue.
People collect them for art or some are just destroyed because of their nature.
Requires a need for some knowledge of fungal morphology for dissection of tube layers.Ganoderma applanatum ( the Artists’ conk) Pro’s and Con’s for biomonitor use.