Syncephalastrum racemosum NRRL 2496 v1.0
Photo of Syncephalastrum racemosum NRRL 2496 v1.0
1) Asexual sporangiospores of Syncephalastrum racemosum. 2) Sexual zygospores of Syncephalastrum racemosum. Photos by Kerry O'Donnell

Syncephalastrum is the only genus in the Syncephalastraceae family in the order Mucorales. Syncephalastrum can be isolated from soil and dung, plant material and other organic substrates. Animal infections and mycosis can also be a source of this fungus. It has been isolated from the clinical specimens of New Orleans residents after the Katrina and Rita hurricanes of 2005, the endophytic fungal community of cacao, eyes of healthy horses, nests of laboratory reared leaf cutter ants, poultry feed, and spices (Elshafie et al., 2002; Rosa et al., 2003; Rubini et al., 2005; Labuda and Tancinová, 2006; Rao et al., 2007; Rodrigues et al., 2009).

Syncephalastrum racemosum has some biotechnology applications as it been used to produce an aspartic proteinase (Syncephapepsin) and both thermostable endoglucanase and cellulose-free xylanase enzymes (Sapre et al., 2006; Wonganu et al, 2008). Chitosan from S. racemosum has been used to produce a film used to immobilize lipase (Amorim et al., 2003) and the fungus has been used to microbially modify cinobufagin to other compounds several of which are cytoxic when tested against human hepatoma cells (Ma et al., 2008). Mycotic infections caused by S. racemosum, including mucormycosis and onychomycosis (Pavlovic and Bulajic, 2006).

In Syncephalastrum, asexual reproduction occurs through development of merosporangia (Figure 1), leading to the production of sporangiospores. They also have a defined sexual cycle and develop to form zygospores (Figure 2).

Genome sequence of S. racemosum will sample phylogenetic diversity of one of the major families of the Mucorales order and support data mining for novel enzymes in protease and carbohydrate active enzymes.








Amorim, R.V.S., E.S. Melo, M.G. Carneiro-da-Cunha, W.M. Ledingham, and G.M. Takos-Takaki. 2003. Chitosan from Syncephalastrum racemosum used as a film support.for lipase immobilization. Bioresource Technology 89: 35-39.

Benjamin, R.K., and B. Tucker. 1978. Syncephalastrum racemosum, pp. 141-142. In: M.S. Fuller (Ed.). Lower fungi in the laboratory. Palfrey Contributions in Botany. No. 1. Department of Botany, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Elshafie, A.E., T.A. Al-Rashdi, S.N. Al-Bahry, and C.S. Bakheit. 2002. Fungi and aflotoxins associated with spices in the Sultanate of Oman. Mycopathologia 155155-160.

Galgóczy, L., L. Kovács, K. Krizsán, T. Papp, and C. Vágvölgyi. 2009. Inhibitory effects of cysteine and cysteine derivatives on germination of sporangiospores and hyphal growth of different Zygomycetes. Mycopathologia 168:125-134.

Labuda, R., and D. Tancinová. 2006. Fungi recovered from Slovakian poultry feed mixtures and their toxinogenity. Annals of agricultural and environmental medicine 13:193-200.

Ma, X.-c., X.-l. Xin, K.-x. Liu, J. Han, and D.-a. Guo. 2008. Microbial transformation of cinobufagin by Syncephalastrum racemosum. Journal of Natural Products 71:1268-1270.

Pavlovic, M.D., and N. Bulajic. 2006. Great toenail onychomycosis caused by Syncephalastrum racemosum. Dermatology Online Journal 12(1), 4 p. (

Rao, C.Y., C. Kurukularatne, J.B. Garcia-Diaz, S.A. Kemmerly, D. Reed, S.K. Fridken, and J. Morgan. 2007. Implications of detecting the mold Syncephalastrum in clinical specimens of New Orleans residents after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 49:411-416.

Rodrigues, A., R.N. Cable, U.G. Mueller, M. Bacci Jr., and F.C. Pagnocca. 2009. Antogonistic interactions between garden yeasts and microfungal garden pathogens of leaf-cutting ants. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 96:311-342.

Rosa, M., L.M. Cardozzo, J.D.S. Pereira, D,E, Brooks, A.L.B. Martins, P.S.S. Florido, and J.S.P. Strussi. 2003. Fungal flora of normal eyes of healthy horse from the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Veterinary Ophthalmology 6:51-55.

Rubini, M.R., R.T. Silva-Ribeiro, A.W. Pomella, C.S. Maki, W.L. Araújo, D.R. dos Santos, and J.L. Azevedo. 2005. Diversity of endophytic fungal community of cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) and biological control of Crinipellis perniciosa, causal agent of Witches’ Broom Disease. International Journal of Biological Sciences 1:24-33.

Sapre, M.P., H. Jha, and M.B. Patil. 2006. Purification and characterization of a thermostabile-cellulose free xylanase from Syncephalastrum racemosum. Journal of General and Applied Microbiology 51:327-

Wonganu, B., K. Pootanakit, K. Boonyapakron, V. Champreda, S. Tanapongpipat, and L. Eurwilaichiitr. 2008. Cloning, expression and characterization of a thermotolerant endoglucanase from Syncephalastrum racemosum (BCC18080) in Pichia pastoris. Protein Expression and Purification 58:78-86.

Genome Reference(s)