Crittendenia gen. nov., a new lichenicolous lineage in the Agaricostilbomycetes (Pucciniomycotina), and a review of the biology, phylogeny and classification of lichenicolous heterobasidiomycetes
The lichenicolous ‘heterobasidiomycetes’ belong in the Tremellomycetes (Agaricomycotina) and in the Pucciniomycotina. In this paper, we provide an introduction and review of these lichenicolous taxa, focusing on recent studies and novelties of their classification, phylogeny and evolution. Lichen-inhabiting fungi in the Pucciniomycotina are represented by only a small number of species included in the genera Chionosphaera, Cyphobasidium and Lichenozyma. The phylogenetic position of the lichenicolous representatives of Chionosphaera has, however, never been investigated by molecular methods. Phylogenetic analyses using the nuclear SSU, ITS, and LSU ribosomal DNA markers reveal that the lichenicolous members of Chionosphaera form a monophyletic group in the Pucciniomycotina, distinct from Chionosphaera and outside the Chionosphaeraceae. The new genus Crittendenia is described to accommodate these lichen-inhabiting species. Crittendenia is characterized by minute synnemata-like basidiomata, the presence of clamp connections and aseptate tubular basidia from which 4–7 spores discharge passively, often in groups. Crittendenia, Cyphobasidium and Lichenozyma are the only lichenicolous lineages known so far in the Pucciniomycotina, whereas Chionosphaera does not include any lichenicolous taxa.
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