The sooty moulds

Abstract

Sooty moulds are a remarkable, but poorly understood group of fungi. They coat fruits and leaves superficially with black mycelia, which reduces photosynthesis rates of host plants. Few researchers have, however, tried to quantify their economic importance. Sooty moulds have been well-studied at the morphological level, but they are poorly represented in a natural classification based on phylogeny. Representatives are presently known in Antennulariellaceae, Capnodiaceae, Chaetothyriaceae, Coccodiniaceae, Euantennariaceae, Metacapnodiaceae and Trichomeriaceae and several miscellaneous genera. However, molecular data is available for only five families. Most sooty mould colonies comprise numerous species and thus it is hard to confirm relationships between genera or sexual and asexual states. Future studies need to obtain single spore isolates of species to test their phylogenetic affinities and linkages between morphs. Next generation sequencing has shown sooty mould colonies to contain many more fungal species than expected, but it is not clear which species are dominant or active in the communities. They are more common in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions and thus their prevalence in temperate regions is likely to increase with global warming. Sooty moulds are rarely parasitized by fungicolous taxa and these may have biocontrol potential. They apparently grow in extreme environments and may be xerophilic. This needs testing as xerophilic taxa may be of interest for industrial applications. Sooty moulds grow on sugars and appear to out-compete typical “weed” fungi and bacteria. They may produce antibiotics for this purpose and their biochemical potential for obtaining novel bioactive compounds for medical application is underexplored.

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Acknowledgments

This work was carried out using a grant to the first author by the Office of the Higher Education Commission of Thailand. We would like to thank DJ Bhat who encouraged and advised on many parts of this paper; Cecile Gueidan who advised on the phylogeny part; Saranyaphat Boonmee for observing herbarium specimens from BPI; and Bevan Weir and Patrick Garvey for discussions and comments on next generation sequencing and NZ sooty moulds sections. The curator of K and PDD are especially thanked for loaning herbarium specimens. H. Voglmayr & W. Jaklitsch are thanked for supplying a fresh collection. Additional support is also from the CGIAR Research Program 6: Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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Chomnunti, P., Hongsanan, S., Aguirre-Hudson, B. et al. The sooty moulds. Fungal Diversity 66, 1–36 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13225-014-0278-5

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Keywords

  • Antibiotics
  • Capnodiales
  • Chaetothyriales
  • Global warming
  • Life cycle
  • Phylogeny
  • Xerophiles