Syncephalis fuscata (Piptocephalidaceae,
Zoopaginomycotina) is an obligate, haustorial mycoparasite that
infects fungi in the Mucoraceae (Mucorales, Mucoromycotina). This
species is morphologically characterized by sporophores with thin
walls, basal rhizoids, and broadly ovoid vesicles. The
merosporangia are unbranched, multispored and are borne on the
upper half or asymmetrically on the vesicle. The mature spores are
released in a droplet of fluid that remains in the place originally
occupied by the merosporangia. The initial indication of the
presence of S. fuscata is the formation of extremely fine
hyphae that completely cover the aerial hyphae of the host
Syncephalis fuscata originally was described by Indoh (1962) from garden soil collected in Tokyo, Japan and has also been isolated from dung. Syncephalis fuscata has since been reported from Argentina (Spinedi and Arambarri 1986) and the sequenced strain is from the United States (Georgia). This fungus is probably distributed globally in soil and dung. This and other species of Syncephalis have the potential to be used as biocontrol agents of Mucorales species that cause postharvest disease or wet rot (e.g. Choanephora cucurbitarum, Gilbertella persicaria, Mucor piriformis, Rhizopus stolonifer) of various fruit and vegetable crops. Sequencing of the Syncephalis fuscata genome is important because this species is a member of the Zoopagales (Zoopagomycotina), an evolutionary lineage that remains severely understudied.
Members of the genus Syncephalis are often overlooked when encountered in nature. They are rarely isolated and difficult to maintain in culture because they grow best in co-culture with the host fungi. However, the genome of Syncephalis fuscata was generated based on a pure-culture isolate that was grown on a specialized calf-liver medium developed by Ellis (1966).
Ellis JJ. 1966. On growing Syncephalis in pure culture. Mycologia 58:465−469.
Indoh H. 1962. Studies on Japanese Mucorales I. On the genus Syncephalis. Science Reports of Tokyo Kyoiku University, Section B, 11: l-26.
Spinedi HA, Arambarri AM. 1986. Mucorales microparasitos en suelo de bosque de Nothofagus sp. Darwiniana 37:305-313.