B.C. scientist and UBC professor Shannon Berch has been leading a project that looks closely at what types of fungi grow on the roots of Garry oak trees. Metchosin mycologist Andy MacKinnon, who has been helping with the study, shared that samples from the roots of Garry oaks have revealed some species which don’t match any other in published literature. This suggests they may have found some species that are new to science. (Photo by Shlomo Shalev/Unsplash)

B.C. scientist and UBC professor Shannon Berch has been leading a project that looks closely at what types of fungi grow on the roots of Garry oak trees. Metchosin mycologist Andy MacKinnon, who has been helping with the study, shared that samples from the roots of Garry oaks have revealed some species which don’t match any other in published literature. This suggests they may have found some species that are new to science. (Photo by Shlomo Shalev/Unsplash)

B.C. scientists discover potential new mushroom species on Garry oak roots

Metchosin mycologist Andy MacKinnon co-authored a new book on fungi, to be released in summer

Exciting discoveries are popping up in the fungi research kingdom.

B.C. scientist and UBC professor Shannon Berch has been leading a project that looks closely at what types of fungi grow on the roots of Garry oak trees. Metchosin mycologist Andy MacKinnon, who has been helping with the study, shared that samples from the roots of Garry oaks have revealed some species which don’t match any other in published literature.

“A number of the species Shannon, and another researcher Tom Witte, have found and analyzed at UVic and UBC didn’t match anything that’s been published yet, which really suggests they are looking at some species that would be new to science,” said MacKinnon.

When sampling the root tips, researchers have been looking at mycelium, a lively network of interconnected cells that grows along roots and through soil, feeding on decomposing organisms. It is not possible to identify a mushroom species by just looking at the mycelium. So, Berch entered the DNA from the mycelium into an international database, which can compare what she has found with other species that have already been identified.

“Some didn’t match any of the DNA sequences of other species, but were close enough to some published sequences, that Shannon could be reasonably certain that they were in the genus ‘Helvella’,” said MacKinnon. “So we think it’s a new species of Helvella.”

READ ALSO: Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

The next step is to return to the Garry oaks in the spring and fall, look for the fruiting bodies, and then test the DNA of those mushrooms.

“If they match the fungus that is growing on the roots, then there is your species,” said MacKinnon.

MacKinnon, who is also a Metchosin councillor, holds a master’s degree in mycology and researches the curious lives of mushrooms through various projects. One of his focuses is with the Metchosin Biodiversity Project, a group that aims to increase understanding of Metchosin’s species and ecosystems.

The organization holds annual “mycoblitz” events, which include the community in collecting and identifying mushrooms in Metchosin.

Mackinnon has also co-authored six books on Western plants of North America, and is coming out with a new Royal B.C. Museum handbook on mushrooms. The book, which is written by MacKinnon and Kim Luther, is expected to hit the shelves by late summer.

“It will be the first book on mushrooms of B.C. in about five decades, so we are very jazzed,” said MacKinnon.

READ ALSO: Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

District of Metchosin

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Latoria South section of the Royal Bay development in Colwood could include a new long-term care facility. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood’s Royal Bay could be home to new long-term care facilities

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $8M land purchase for purpose

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth gets combative with police at Victoria hospital

VicPD officer injured, youth kept in care under Mental Health Act

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School April 14 to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
SD61’s proposed $7 million cuts threaten equity and inclusion, say parents, teachers

Music classes, inclusion services, reading programs on the line

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

One of the grand prizes for this year's Hometown Heroes Lottery includes a seaside home at SookePoint, $1.5 million, and an Audi Quattro. (Photo courtesy of Hometown Heroes)
Hometown Heroes Lottery features seaside home in Sooke

A stunning seaside home in Sooke could be yours for the price… Continue reading

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

Homicide investigators who asked not to be identified put up signs Wednesday, April 14, along the Nanaimo Parkway in the area where a body was found March 31. RCMP are asking for witnesses or dash cam footage as the suspicious death has now been ruled a homicide. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Suspicious death along the highway in Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

RCMP identify victim as Randell Charles Thomas, repeat call for any information related to the case

Most Read