The species-complex includes populations of choice edible mushrooms, growing in the greater Mediterranean area in close association with different genera of plants of the family Apiaceae. Their distinct host-specialization served as the principal criterion for the discrimination of several taxa; however, the genetic relationships among the various ecotypes remain ambiguous. In the present study, 46 strains with a wide range of geographical origins were isolated from spp., , , and subsp. , and were subjected to isozyme and random amplified polymorphic DNA-PCR (RAPD) analysis. The 16 enzyme activities tested were controlled by 28 loci, 11 of which were monomorphic. Host-exclusive zymograms for the Aph (acid phosphatase) and Phe-1 (dopa-phenoloxidase) loci were obtained from strains associated with . Allele frequencies, genetic diversity and mean diversity were high for isolates from spp. and . In RAPD analysis, the use of five primers allowed the production of 45 (out of 48) polymorphic bands, while four molecular markers specific for the identification of strains growing on subsp. and were obtained. The strains produced 35 distinct electrophoretic types and 42 RAPD patterns, which independently permitted the separation of the fungal populations into five clusters in accordance with their host-specificity. In addition, the evaluation of the principal ecological and morphological characters provided further evidence for discriminating between growing on and the rest of the host-associated populations. The latter represent taxa at the varietal level: var. , var. and var. . The position of taxa of dubious validity, such as and , is discussed in relation to the new findings. All Mediterranean populations growing on umbellifers seem to have recently diverged through a sympatric speciation process, that is based on both intrinsic reproductive barriers and extrinsic ecogeographical factors.


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