Lindsay wrote today’s entry:
Since Daniel has already highlighted self-digestion previously on Botany Photo of the Day with respect to Coprinus comatus, I thought I would expand on the scandal caused by a little thing mycologists call autodeliquescence.
Coprinus was once thought to be one of the easiest mushroom genera to identify for its defining feature of self-digestion, until a graduate student at Duke University sequenced a gene in 1994. This placed former members of Coprinus into 4 different genera. Imagine the controversy at the Mycological Society of America meeting! The proposal to split up the genus was met with such outrage that it was not published until 8 years later. The majority of the species of Coprinus were subsequently reclassified in the genera Coprinellus, Coprinopsis, and Parasola. Coprinus and its former members still retain a superficial grouping, however, and are collectively referred to as coprinoid fungi. Consequently, the ring found on the stipe and the string-like strand of fibers inside the stem’s hollow cavity (not shown) are better identifiers of Coprinus than the deliquescing gills.
Botany resource link (added by Daniel): “Mushroom Poisoning : The Role of Careless Identifications“, recently published in the Botanical Electronic News. There is also additional discussion about this article on the UBC BG forums.