Caracterización morfológica del género Auricularia en zonas boscosas del área oeste de Puerto Rico
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Auricularia is a taxonomically complex genus, which requires the use of traditional techniques such as tissue evaluation and staining for its characterization. These traditional techniques have not been re-evaluated in more than 60 years. The similarity of species and the complexity to find stable characters to identify specimens lead us to analyze and study new morphological features. This taxonomic complexity may lead to misidentification of specimens, due to the lack of a standard methodology and more inclusive taxonomic tools to identify species. In order to contribute to the taxonomy of Auriculariales, specimens of Auricularia were collected in forested areas in Sabana Grande, San Sebastián, Rincón, Aguada and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Slides from longitudinal cuts were prepared and stained, and specimens were identified using available taxonomic keys. After the morphometric analysis of 197 specimens, these were grouped into 11 morphotypes that could represent new species or variations within the genus. In addition, Auricularia americana and the genus Exidia are reported for the first time in Puerto Rico, bringing the number of Auricularia species reported for Puerto Rico to eight. We propose a new character for the identification of species in the genus Auricularia, helping to distinguish A. peltata, A. mesenterica and A. americana.