Ascospore characters have commonly been used for distinguishing ascomycete taxa, while ascomal wall characters have received little attention. Although taxa in the Sordariales possess a wide range of variation in their ascomal walls and ascospores, genera have traditionally been delimited based on differences in their ascospore morphology. Phylogenetic relationships of multiple representatives from each of several genera representing the range in ascomal wall and ascospore morphologies in the Sordariales were estimated using partial nuclear DNA sequences from the 28S ribosomal large subunit (LSU), β-tubulin, and ribosomal polymerase II subunit 2 (RPB2) genes. These genes also were compared for their utility in predicting phylogenetic relationships in this group of fungi. Maximum parsimony and Bayesian analyses conducted on separate and combined data sets indicate that ascospore morphology is extremely homoplastic and not useful for delimiting genera. Genera represented by more than one species were paraphyletic or polyphyletic in nearly all analyses; 17 species of Cercophora segregated into at least nine different clades, while six species of Podospora occurred in five clades in the LSU tree. However, taxa with similar ascomal wall morphologies clustered in five well-supported clades suggesting that ascomal wall morphology is a better indicator of generic relationships in certain clades in the Sordariales. The RPB2 gene possessed over twice the number of parsimony-informative characters than either the LSU or β-tubulin gene and consequently, provided the most support for the greatest number of clades.
- Bayesian inference
- Morphological characters
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology