Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

A new and unusual species of Hericium (Basidiomycota: Russulales, Hericiaceae) from the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon


Tropical rainforests form the most species-rich biome on the earth. The Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR) in Cameroon is a biodiverse tropical forest characterized in part by upland monodominant stands of the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) Gilbertiodendron dewevrei and ECM Uapaca spp. scattered along river banks. This mostly primary Guineo-Congolian evergreen forest harbors natural populations of large megafauna and numerous plant and fungal species. Studies have indicated that some ECM fungal groups of the large order Russulales are abundant in certain localities in the tropics, including the DBR. However, currently, other predominantly wood-decaying families of Russulales are poorly represented in Africa. For example, only three records of the saprotrophic genus Hericium (Russulales, Hericiaceae) are known from the African continent. Here, we describe a new species of Hericium recently collected from the DBR. Morphological characteristics and molecular phylogenetic analyses support placement of the Cameroonian collection in Hericium and its recognition as a new species within a larger H. coralloides species complex. The new species, H. bembedjaense, differs from H. coralloides in its smaller basidiospores (2.6–3.0 × 1.7–2.2 μm compared to 3.5–5.0 × 2.8–4.2 μm) and longer basidia (up to 27.0 μm compared to 15.0 μm). It differs from all other described Hericium species in the production of pleurocystidia. This is the first species of Hericiaceae known from sub-Saharan lowland tropical evergreen forests. This study highlights the need to increase fungal sampling in species-rich tropical forests such as those of the Congo Basin.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Abdulla MA, Noor SM, Sabaratnam V, Abdullah N, Wong KH, Ali HM (2008) Effect of culinary medicinal lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (bull.: Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) on ethanol induced gastric ulcers in rats. Int J Med Mushrooms 10:325–330

  2. Aime MC (2004) Intercompatibility tests and phylogenetic analysis in the Crepidotus Sphaerula group complex: concordance between ICGs and nuclear rDNA sequences highlight phenotypic plasticity within Appalachian species. In: Cripps CL (ed) Fungi in forest ecosystems: systematics, diversity, and ecology. New York Botanical Gardens, NY, pp 71–80

  3. Allen SJ, Dawbarn D (2006) Clinical relevance of the neurotrophins and their receptors. Clin Sci (Lond) 110:175–191

  4. Araújo JPM, Evans HC, Geiser DM, Mackay WP, Hughes DP (2015) Unravelling the diversity behind the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis (Ophiocordycipitaceae) complex: three new species of zombie-ant fungi from the Brazilian Amazon. Phytotaxa 220:224–238.

  5. Berndt R (2012) Species richness, taxonomy and peculiarities of the neotropical rust fungi. Are they more diverse in the neotropics? Biodivers Conserv 21:2299–2322.

  6. Betti JL (2004) Impact of forest logging in the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon. Unpublished Context Study Report, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Cameroon, 1–13. Accessed 11 April 2019

  7. Blaalid R, Kumar S, Nilsson RH, Abarenkov K, Kirk PM, Kauserud H (2013) ITS1 versus ITS2 as DNA metabarcodes for fungi. Mol Ecol Resour 13:218–224.

  8. Boddy L, Crockatt ME, Ainsworth AM (2011) Ecology of Hericium cirrhatum, H. coralloides and H. erinaceus in the UK. Fungal Ecol 4:163–173.

  9. Brock PM, Doring H, Bidartondo MI (2009) How to know unknown fungi: the role of a herbarium. New Phytol 181:719–724.

  10. Capella-Gutiérrez S, Silla-Martinez JM, Gabaldon T (2009) trimAl: a tool for automated alignment trimming in large-scale phylogenetic analyses. Bioinformatics 2009:1971–1973

  11. Carson SL, Kentatchime F, Nana ED, Njabo KY, Cole BL, Godwin HA (2018) Indigenous peoples’ concerns about loss of forest knowledge: implications for forest management. Conserv Soc 16:431–440.

  12. Castellano MA, Dentinger BTM, Séné O, Elliott TF, Truong C, Henkel TW (2016) New species of Elaphomyces (Elaphomycetaceae, Eurotiales, Ascomycota) from tropical rainforests of Cameroon and Guyana. IMA Fungus 7:59–73.

  13. Chernomor O, von Haeseler A, Minh BQ (2016) Terrace aware data structure for phylogenomic inference from supermatrices. Syst Biol 65:997–1008.

  14. Cornejo FH, Varela A, Wright SJ (1994) Tropical forest litter decomposition under seasonal drought: nutrient release, fungi and bacteria. Oikos 70:183–190.

  15. Darriba D, Taboada GL, Doallo R, Posada D (2012) jModelTest 2: more models, new heuristics and parallel computing. Nat Methods 9:772.

  16. Das K, Stalpers J, Eberhardt U (2011) A new species of Hericium from Sikkim Himalaya (India). Cryptogam Mycol 32:285–293.

  17. Das K, Stalpers JA, Stielow JB (2013) Two new species of hydnoid-fungi from India. IMA Fungus 4:359–369.

  18. De Crop E, Lescroart J, Njouonkou AL, De Lange R, Van de Putte K, Verbeken A (2019) Lactifluus bicapillus (Russulales, Russulaceae), a new species from the Guineo-Congolian rainforest. MycoKeys 39:25–39.

  19. Dentinger BTM, Didukh MY, Moncalvo J-M (2011) Comparing COI and ITS as DNA barcode markers for mushrooms and allies (Agaricomycotina). PLoS One 6:e25081.

  20. Edgar RC (2004) MUSCLE: multiple sequence alignment with high accuracy and high throughput. Nucleic Acids Res 32:1792–1797

  21. Fraiture A, Otto P (2015) Distribution, ecology and status of 51 macromycetes in Europe: results of the ECCF Mapping Programme. Scripta Bot Belg 53:1–247

  22. Gardes M, Bruns TD (1993) ITS primers with enhanced specificity for basidiomycetes-application to the identification of mycorrhizae and rusts. Mol Ecol 2:113–118.

  23. Garnica S, Schön EM, Abarenkov K, Riess K, Liimatainen K, Niskanen T, Dima B, Soop K, Frøslev TG, Jeppesen TS, Peintner U, Kuhnert-Finkermagel R, Brandrud TE, Sar G, Oertel B, Ammirati JF (2016) Determining threshold values for barcoding fungi: lessons from Cortinarius (Basidiomycota), a highly diverse and widespread ectomycorrhizal genus. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 92:fiw045.

  24. Ginns J (1985) Hericium in North America: cultural characteristics and mating behavior. Can J Bot 63:1551–1563.

  25. Good R (1974) The geography of flowering plants, 3rd edn. Longman, White Plains

  26. Gryzenhout M, Jefwa JM, Yorou NS (2012) The status of mycology in Africa: a document to promote awareness. IMA Fungus 3:99–102.

  27. Haelewaters D, De Kesel A, Pfister DH (2018) Integrative taxonomy reveals hidden species within a common fungal parasite of ladybirds. Sci Rep 8:15966.

  28. Hallenberg N (1983) Hericium coralloides and H. alpestre (Basidiomycetes) in Europe. Mycotaxon 18:181–189

  29. Hallenberg N, Nilsson RH, Robledo G (2013) Species complexes in Hericium (Russulales, Agaricomycota) and a new species - Hericium rajchenbergii - from southern South America. Mycol Prog 12:413–420.

  30. Henkel TW, Aime MC, Chin MML, Miller SL, Vilgalys R, Smith ME (2012) Ectomycorrhizal fugal sporocarp diversity and discovery of new taxa in Dicymbe monodominant forests of the Guiana Shield. Biodivers Conserv 21:2195–2220.

  31. Hill JL, Hill RA (2001) Why are tropical rain forests so species rich? Classifying, reviewing and evaluating theories. Prog Phys Geogr 25:326–354.

  32. Hoang DT, Chernomor O, von Haeseler A, Minh BQ, Vinh LS (2017) UFBoot2: improving the ultrafast bootstrap approximation. Mol Biol Evol 35:518–522.

  33. Index Fungorum (2019) Search Index Fungorum. Accessed 24 April 2019.

  34. Kalucka IL, Olariaga Ibarguren I (n.d.) Hericium erinaceus (Bull.) Pers. The Global Fungal Red List Initiative. Accessed 15 April 2019

  35. Khan MA, Tania M, Liu R, Rahman MM (2013) Hericium erinaceus: an edible mushroom with medicinal values. J Complement Integr Med 10:253–258

  36. Kim DM, Pyun CW, Ko HG, Park WM (2000) Isolation of antimicrobial substances from Hericium erinaceum. Mycobiology 28:33–38

  37. Kim SP, Kang MY, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M (2011) Composition and mechanism of antitumor effects of Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts in tumor-bearing mice. J Agric Food Chem 59:9861–9869

  38. Kim SP, Moon E, Nam SH, Friedman M (2012) Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella typhimurium-induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells. J Agric Food Chem 60:5590–5596

  39. Kim SP, Nam SH, Friedman M (2013) Hericium erinaceus (Lion’sMane) mushroom extracts inhibit metastasis of cancer cells to the lung in CT-26 colon cancer-transplanted mice. J Agric Food Chem 61:4898–4904

  40. Koski-Kotiranta S, Niemela T (1988) Hydnaceous fungi of the Hericiaceae, Auriscalpiaceae and Climacodontaceae in northwestern Europe. Karstenia 27:43–70.

  41. Kumar S, Stecher G, Tamura K (2015) Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analyses version 7.0 for bigger datasets. Mol Biol Evol 33:1870–1874

  42. Larsson E, Larsson KH (2003) Phylogenetic relationships of russuloid basidiomycetes with emphasis on aphyllophoralean taxa. Mycologia 95:1037–1065.

  43. Liu C, Gao P, Qian J, Yan W (2000) Immunological study on the antitumor effects of fungus polysaccharides compounds. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 29:178–180

  44. Ma BJ, Ma JC, Ruan Y (2012) Hericenone L, a new aromatic compound from the fruiting bodies of Hericium erinaceum. Chin J Nat Med 10:363–365

  45. Matheny PB, Wang Z, Binder M, Curtis JM, Lim YW, Nilsson RH, Hughes KW, Hofstetter V, Ammirati JF, Schoch CL, Langer E, Langer G, McLaughlin DJ, Wilson AW, Froslev T, Ge ZW, Kerrigan RW, Slot JC, Yang ZL, Baroni TJ, Fischer M, Hosaka K, Matsuura K, Seidl MT, Vauras J, Hibbett DS (2007) Contributions of rpb2 and tef1 to the phylogeny of mushrooms and allies (Basidiomycota, Fungi). Mol Phylogenet Evol 43:430–451.

  46. Miller M, Pfeiffer WT, Schwartz T (2010) Creating the CIPRES Science Gateway for inferences of large phylogenetic trees. Proc Gateway Comp Environ Workshop 14:1–8.

  47. Miller SL, Aime MC, Henkel TW (2012) Russulaceae of the Pakaraima Mountains of Guyana 2 New species of Russula and Lactifluus. Mycotaxon 121:233–253.

  48. Moncalvo JM, Lutzoni FM, Rehner SA, Johnson J, Vilgalys R (2000) Phylogenetic relationships of agaric fungi based on nuclear large subunit ribosomal DNA sequences. Syst Biol 49:278–305.

  49. Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, Nakahata N (2008) Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull 31:1727–1732.

  50. Nguyen LT, Schmidt HA, von Haeseler A, Minh BQ (2015) IQ-TREE: a fast and effective stochastic algorithm for estimating maximum likelihood phylogenies. Mol Biol Evol 32:268–274.

  51. Niu L, Song X, He S, Zhang P, Wang N, Li Y, Huang D (2015) New insights into the fungal community from the raw genomic sequence data of fig wasp Ceratosolen solmsi. BMC Microbiol 15:27.

  52. Obara Y, Nakahata N (2002) The signaling pathway of neurotrophic factor biosynthesis. Drug News Perspect 15:290–298

  53. Online Auction Color Chart Co (2004). The online auction color chart: the new language of color for buyers and sellers. Palo Alto Calif. Online Auction Color Chart Co.

  54. Ouali Z, Sbissi I, Boudagga S, Rhaiem A, Hamdi C, Venturella G, Saporita P, Jaouani A, Gargano ML (2018) First report of the rare tooth fungus Hericium erinaceus in North African temperate forests. Plant Biosyst.

  55. Park HG, Ko HG, Kim SH, Park WM (2004) Molecular identification of Asian isolates of medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceum by phylogenetic analysis of the nuclear ITS rDNA. J Microbiol Biotechnol 14:816–821

  56. Pegler DN (2003) Useful fungi of the world: the monkey head fungus. Mycologist 17:120–121.

  57. Peh KS, Sonké B, Séné O, Djuikouo MN, Nguembou CK et al (2014) Mixed-forest species establishment in a monodominant forest in central Africa: implications for tropical forest invasibility. PLoS One 9:e97585

  58. Persoon CH (1794) Neuer Versuch einer systematischen Einteilung der Schwämme. Römer Neues Mag Bot 1:63–128

  59. Piepenbring M, Hofmann TA, Unterseher M, Kost G (2012) Species richness of plants and fungi in western Panama—towards a fungal inventory in the neotropics. Biodivers Conserv 21:2181–2193.

  60. Prine M, Albanese E, Guerchet M, Prina M (2014) World Alzheimer report 2014 - dementia and risk reduction an analysis of protective and modifiable factors, p.1–104.

  61. Ramberg JE, Nelson ED, Sinnott RA (2010) Immunomodulatory dietary polysaccharides: a systematic review of the literature. Nutr J 9:54

  62. Rupcic Z, Rascher M, Kanaki S, Köster RW, Stadler M, Wittstein K (2018) Two new Cyathane Diterpenoids from mycelial cultures of the medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus and the rare species, Hericium flagellum. Int J Mol Sci 19(3):1–12.

  63. Schoch CL, Seifert KA, Huhndorf S, Robert V, Spouge JL, Levesque CA, Chen W, Fungal Barcoding Consortium (2012) Nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region as a universal DNA barcode marker for Fungi. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:6241–6246.

  64. Sjökvist E, Larsson E, Eberhardt U, Ryvarden L, Larsson KH (2012) Stipitate stereoid basidiocarps have evolved multiple times. Mycologia 104:1046–1055.

  65. Smith ME, Henkel TW, Williams GC, Aime MC, Fremier AK, Vilgalys R (2017) Investigating niche partitioning of ectomycorrhizal fungi in specialized rooting zones of the monodominant leguminous tree Dicymbe corymbosa. New Phytol 215:443–453.

  66. Sochorová Z, Döbbeler P, Sochor M, van Rooy J (2019) Octospora conidiophora (Pyronemataceae) – a new species from South Africa and the first report of anamorph in bryophilous Pezizales. MycoKeys 54:49–76.

  67. Sonké B, Couvreur TLP (2014) Tree diversity of the Dja Faunal Reserve, southeastern Cameroon. Biodivers Data J 2:e1049.

  68. Thongbai B, Rapior S, Hyde KD, Wittstein K, Stadler M (2015) Hericium erinaceus, an amazing medicinal mushroom. Mycol Prog 14:1–23.

  69. Verbeken A, Walleyn R (2010) Fungus flora of tropical Africa. Volume 2. Monograph of Lactarius in tropical Africa. National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise.

  70. Verbeken A, Stubbe D, Nuytinck J (2008) Two new Lactarius species from Cameroon. Cryptogam Mycol 29:137–143

  71. Vilgalys R, Hester M (1990) Rapid genetic identification and mapping of enzymatically amplified ribosomal DNA from several Cryptococcus species. J Bacteriol 172:4238–4246.

  72. Vilgalys R, Hopple JS, Hibbett DS (1994) Phylogenetic implications of generic concepts in fungal taxonomy: the impact of molecular systematic studies. Mycol Helv 6:73–91

  73. Vu D, Groenewald M, De Vries M, Gehrmann T, Stielow B, Eberhardt U, Al-Hatmi A, Groenewald JZ, Cardinali G, Houbraken J, Boekhout T, Crous PW, Robert V, Verkley GJM (2019) Large-scale generation and analysis of filamentous fungal DNA barcodes boosts coverage for kingdom fungi and reveals thresholds for fungal species and higher taxon delimitation. Stud Mycol 92:135–154.

  74. Wang J, Bau T, Gao X (2011) The molecular systematics research of Hericium in China. Edible Fungi of China 4.

  75. Wilson EO (1988) The current state of biological diversity. In: Wilson EO, Peters FM (eds) Biodiversity. National Academy Press, Washington, pp 3–18

  76. Wittstein K, Rascher M, Rupcic Z, Löwen E, Winter B, Köster RW, Stadler M (2016) Corallocins A–C, nerve growth and brain-derived neurotrophic factor inducing metabolites from the mushroom Hericium coralloides. J Nat Prod 79:2264–2269

  77. Wong JY, Abdulla MA, Raman J, Phan CW, Kuppusamy UR, Golbabapour S, Sabaratnam V (2013) Gastroprotective effects of lion’s mane mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.:Fr.) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae) extract against ethanol-induced ulcer in rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 52:66–71

  78. Xu H, Wu PR, Shen ZY, Chen XD (2010) Chemical analysis of Hericium erinaceum polysaccharides and effect of the polysaccharides on derma antioxidant enzymes, MMP-1 and TIMP-1 activities. Int J Biol Macromol 47:33–36

  79. Yang BK, Park JB, Song CH (2003) Hypolipidemic effect of an exobiopolymer produced from a submerged mycelial culture of Hericium erinaceus. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 67:1292–1298

  80. Yin L, Chi Y (2015) Cloning and bioinformatics analysis of MnP1 cDNA gene from Hericium erinaceum. Sci Silvae Sin 2015(5):68–77

  81. Ying J, Mao X, Ma Q, Zong Y, Wen H (1987) Icons of medicinal fungi from China (translated, Yuehan X). Science Press, Beijing, p 575

  82. Zhou LW, Dai YC (2013) Taxonomy and phylogeny of wood-inhabiting hydnoid species in Russulales: two new genera, three new species and two new combinations. Mycologia 105:636–649.

Download references


We are grateful to Dr. Ngo Ngwe Florence, Head of The National Herbarium of Cameroon (Institute of Agricultural Research for Development, IRAD), for providing logistical assistance. The Conservator of the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Mr. Mengamenya Goue Achille, and his staff greatly assisted the fieldwork in the Dja. Logistical, herbarium, and laboratory assistance was provided by Olivier Sene, Eric Ngangsop, Emerson Jeesh, Kirk Rumple, and members of the Aime Lab. We also thank Karl-Henrik Larsson (Natural History Museum, University of Oslo) for providing us with specimen details for collection RD282. Field assistance in Cameroon was provided by Emerson Arehart, Alamane Gabriel (a.k.a. Sikiro), Aziem Jean Aime, Essambe Jean-Pierre (a.k.a. Papa Chef), and Mama Tutu. Research permits were granted by the Cameroon Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI) and Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF).


Funding for this work was made available by the National Science Foundation DEB-1556412 to MCA, and NSF DEB-1556338 to TWH.

Author information

Correspondence to Blaise Jumbam.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Section Editor: Zhu-Liang Yang

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jumbam, B., Haelewaters, D., Koch, R.A. et al. A new and unusual species of Hericium (Basidiomycota: Russulales, Hericiaceae) from the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon. Mycol Progress 18, 1253–1262 (2019).

Download citation


  • Africa
  • rDNA systematics
  • Russulales
  • Taxonomy
  • Wood rot fungi