Hypomyces chrysospermus

Bolete eater
H. chrysospermus infecting a Leccinum bolete
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Hypocreaceae
Genus: Hypomyces
Species: H. chrysospermus
Binomial name
Hypomyces chrysospermus
Tul. & C.Tul. (1860)
  • Hypolyssus chrysospermus (Tul. & C.Tul.) Kuntze (1898)
  • Apiocrea chrysosperma (Tul. & C.Tul.) Syd. & P.Syd. (1921)
  • Sepedonium chrysosperma (Bull.) Fr.

The bolete eater, Hypomyces chrysospermus, is a parasitic ascomycete fungus that grows on bolete mushrooms, turning the afflicted host a whitish, golden yellow, or tan color. It is found in Eurasia[2] and North America, as well as southwest Western Australia. Unlike the related Lobster mushroom, H. lactifluorum, the bolete eater and its afflicted host mushrooms are inedible.


Hypomyces chrysospermus was first described by French mycologists, brothers Louis René and Charles Tulasne in 1860. The specific epithet is derived from the Ancient Greek chryse- "golden", and sperma "seed".[3] Common names include bolete eater,[4] and bolete mould.[5]

The bolete eater belongs to a genus of parasitic ascomycetes, each of which infects differing genera of fungi. For example, H. lactifluorum attacks mushrooms of the Russulaceae family, H. copletus and H. transformans infect Suillus species, H. melanocarpus prefers Tylopilus species, while other Hypomyces have a much broader host range.[6]


Ascus and spores

The bolete eater infects boletes, initially with a thin whitish layer which then becomes golden and finally a reddish-brown pimpled appearance. The bolete's flesh softens and is putrescent by the third stage. Single or multiple boletes may be infected, members of Paxillus and Rhizopogon are also attacked.[4]

The spores are oval-shaped and smooth in the white stage and measure 10–30 by 5–12 μm, and are warty, round and thicker-walled in the yellow stage and are 10–25 μm in diameter. These two stages are asexual, while the final stage is sexual; here the spores are spindle-shaped and measure 25–30 by 5–6 μm.[4]

Distribution and habitat

Hypomyces chrysospermus is found in North America,[4] and Europe, where it is common.[5] It is common in the southwest of Western Australia, where it is found in forest and coastal plant communities.[7] It is also found in the Eastern Chinese provinces of Hebei, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Fujian.[2]


As mentioned earlier, H. chrysospermus is not edible and may be poisonous.[4][5] The bolete eater is used in Chinese herbal medicine to stop and heal external bleeding, primarily through application of the spore onto open wounds or cuts.[2]


  1. "Hypomyces chrysospermus Tul. & C. Tul. 1860". MycoBank. International Mycological Association. Retrieved 2011-07-01.
  2. 1 2 3 Ying, Jianzhe (1987). Icons of medicinal fungi from China. Beijing, China: Science Press. pp. 575 (page 545). ISBN 9787030001955.
  3. Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged Edition). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Arora, David (1986). Mushrooms demystified: a comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi (2nd ed.). Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. p. 883. ISBN 0-89815-169-4.
  5. 1 2 3 Roger Phillips (2006). Mushrooms. Pan MacMillan. p. 352. ISBN 0-330-44237-6.
  6. Douhan GW, Rizzo DM. (2003). "Host-parasite relationships among bolete infecting Hypomyces species". Mycological Research. 107 (Pt 11): 1342–49. doi:10.1017/S0953756203008542. PMID 15000236.
  7. Robinson, Richard (2003). Fungi of the South-West Forests. Perth, Western Australia: Department of Conservation and land Management. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0-7307-5528-2.
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