Molecular Characterization of Morchella Species from the Western Himalayan Region of India
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The molecular diversity of thirty-two different Morchella cultures/fruiting bodies, collected from the Western Himalayan region was studied in this investigation. Considerable taxonomic confusion exists regarding many species of Morchella. Although classical taxonomy is helpful in identification for many ascomycetes, morels exhibit considerable morphological diversity and there is disagreement in the identification of morel species. Phylogenetic analyses based on DNA sequences could help in sorting out morel taxonomy which is essential to better define the morel diversity. In this study, sequence analysis revealed that in the Western Himalayan region of India, both yellow (M. crassipes, M. spongiola) and black morels (M. elata, M. angusticeps, and M. gigas) were prominent along with two Verpa species. Phylogenetic analysis by maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference revealed two different clades and a clear distinction between yellow and black morels.