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Karen Hughes



1972 - Ph.D., University of Utah


My interests are in fungal (agaric) speciation patterns and biogeography.  Phylogenies based on DNA sequences are used to answer the following questions.

  • Do agaric  “species” have a global distribution indicating widespread gene flow via airborne spore distribution or are they partitioned into geographic sub-areas?  If partitioned, what factors act to prevent gene flow between populations and how did populations migrate to present-day distributions?
  • Are current distribution patterns within species a consequence of vicariance events or more recent quaternary migrations?

Together with Ron Petersen and many other mycological experts, we are examining agaric biodiversity in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) with a grant from NSF. This is in conjunction with the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory that is taking place.  We wish to answer the following questions:

  • What factors contribute to the unusually high diversity of fungi found in the Smokies? Is diversity partitioned?
  • What factors contribute to the unusually high rates of heterozygosity observed in fungi from the Smokies and are there limits to the observed heterozygosity.
  • How has biodiversity changed over a 50 year period?  Can the effects of climate change be detected?

A third interest is in modernizing biological collections.  The fungal herbarium at Tennessee  holds over 60,000 specimens.  An NSF grant has been awarded to digitize the collection and make it available through GBIF.  Funds are available for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in collections to work on this project.


  • Petersen, R.H. and Hughes, K.W.  (2007) Some agaric distributions involving Pacific landmasses and Pacific Rim. Mycoscience 48(1):1-14.
  • Hughes, K.W. and Petersen, R.H. (2007 ) Relationships among Collybia s. str. from Greenland, North America and Eurasia.p 99-105 In:  Meddelelser om Gronland, Bioscience: Arctic and Alpine Mycology 9: Eds  D. Boertmann and H. Knudsen. 161pp.
  • Lickey, E.B., Tieken, S., Hughes, K. W. and Petersen, R.H. (2007) The mushroom TWIG: A marvelous mycological menagerie in the Mountains.  Southeastern Naturalist Special Issue 1:73-82
  • Spatafora, J.W., Hughes, K.W. and Blackwell, M.B., Eds. 2006. A Phylogeny of Kingdom Fungi: Deep Hypha Issue.  Mycologia 98 (6): 1105pp.
  • Badalyan, S.M., Hughes, K.W., Sakeyan, C.Z. and Helmbrecht, E. (2006)  Morphology, growth characteristics and genetic variability of the edible medicinal mushroom Flammulina velutipes (W. Curt.: Fr.) Singer collections.  Int. J. Med. Mushrooms 8:263-278.
  • Mata, J. L., Hughes, K.W. and Petersen, R.H. (2007) An investigation of omphalotaceae (Fungi: Euagarics) with emphasis on the genus Gymnopus.  Sydowia: 59(2) 181-289.
  • Matheny P.B., Zheng Wang, Manfred Binder, Judd M. Curtis, Young Woon Lim, R. Henrik Nilsson, Karen W. Hughes, Valérie Hofstetter, Joseph F. Ammirati, Conrad L. Schoch, Ewald Langer, Gitta Langer, David J. McLaughlin, Andrew W. Wilson, Tobias Frøslev, Zai-Wei Ge,Richard W. Kerrigan, Jason C. Slot, Zhu-Liang Yang, Timothy J. Baroni, Michael Fischer, Kentaro Hosaka Kenji Matsuura, Michelle T. Seidl, Jukka Vauras and David S. Hibbett (2006) Contributions of rpb2 and tef1 to the phylogeny of mushrooms and allies (Basidiomycota, Fungi) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: 430-451
  • Matheny P.B.,  J.M. Curtis, V. Hofstetter, M.C. Aime, J-M Moncalvo, Z-W Ge, Z-L. Yang, J.C. Slot, J.F. Ammirati, T.J. Baroni, N.L. Bougher, K.W. Hughes, D.J. Lodge, R.W. Kerrigan, M.T. Seidl, D.K. Aanen, M. DeNitis, G.M. Daniele, D.E. Desjardin, B.R. Kropp, L.L. Norvell, A.Parker, E.C. Vellinga, R.Vilgalys, D.S. Hibbett (2006) Major clades of Agaricales: a multi-locus phylogenetic overview.  Mycologia 98:984-997.
  • James T. Y., Frank Kauff', Conrad L. Schoch, P. Brandon Matheny,  Valerie Hofstetter, Cymon J. Coxlt, Gail Cel, Cecile Gueidan, Emily Fraker, Jolanta Miadlikowska, H. Thorsten Lumbsch, Alexandra Rauhut, Valerie Reeb, A. Elizabeth Arnoldl, Anja Amtotf, Jason E. Stajich, Kentaro Hosaka, Gi-Ho Sung, Desiree Johnson, Ben O'Rourke, Michael Crockett,    Manfred Binder, Judd M. Curtis, Jason C. Slot, Zheng Wang, Andrew W. Wilson, Arthur Sch?ler, Joyce E. Longcore, Kerry O'Donnell, Sharon Mozley-Standridge , David Porter, Peter M. Letcher , Martha J. Powell, John W. Taylor, Merlin M. White, Gareth W. Griffith, David R. Davies, Richard A. Humber, Joseph B. Morton, Junta Sugiyama, Amy Y. Rossman, Jack D. Rogers, Don H. Pfister, David Hewitt, Karen Hansen, Sarah Hambleton, Robert A. Shoemaker, Jan Kohlmeyer , Brigitte Volkmann-Kohimeyer, Robert A.  Spotts, Maryna Serdani, Pedro W. Crous, Karen W. Hughes, Kenji Matsuura, Ewald Langer , Gitta Langer, Wendy A. Untereiner, Robert Lucking, Burkhard Budel, David M. Geiser, Andre Aptroot, Paul Diederich, lmke Schmitt, Matthias Schultz, Rebecca Yahr, David S. Hibbett, Francois Lutzoni, David J. McLaughlin, Joseph W. Spatafora & Rytas Vilgalys (2006) Reconstructing the early evolution of Fungi using a six gene phylogeny.  Nature 443:818-822.
  • Kruger, D., Petersen, R.H. and Hughes, K. W. (2006) Molecular phylogenies and mating study data in Polyporus with special emphasis on group’ Melanopus’ (Basidiomycota).  Mycological Progress 5:185-206.

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