Pyrophilous fungi: Widespread communities and novel life stages

Patrick Matheny, Daniel Raudabaugh, Andrew N. Miller, Teresa Iturriaga, Ronald Petersen, Karen Hughes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A review of pyrophilous or ‘fire loving’ fungal studies was conducted to predict the taxonomic composition of the fungal community expected to fruit after fire events. More than 500 species of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota have been reported in association with burned or heated areas and vegetation. Filtering for taxonomic synonyms and infrequently reported names reduces the number of pyrophilous taxa to about 100 species worldwide, 70% of which are Ascomycota (mostly Pezizales) and 30% Basidiomycota (mostly Agaricales). This exercise suggests endemism by continental scale is very low (about 25%), and that pyrophilous species are geographically widespread. However, there are very few reports of post-fire fungal communities from Africa, Asia, and South America, and detailed assessments of genetic diversity of most pyrophilous fungi remain to be made. About 70% of the pyrophilous fungal community is represented by ITS data on GenBank. Our presumption was that much of the pyrophilous community would be dominated by saprotrophic decomposers. However, many pyrophilous fungi match ITS sequences produced from cultures or environmental sequences of endophytic and endolichenic fungi. These results reinforce a suggestion made over 100 years ago by Fred Seaver, when he coined the term ‘pyrophilous fungi’, and hypothesized that burn fungi are present in pre-burn systems but evade detection.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication87th Annual Meeting Mycological Society of America 2019 Annual Meeting; 10-14 August 2019, Minneapoli, Minnesota
StatePublished - 2019


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