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Rev Iberoam Micol. 2006 Sep;23(3):127-33.

Pandora's mycological box: molecular sequences vs. morphology in understanding fungal relationships and biodiversity.

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Departamento de BiologĂ­a Vegetal II, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.


Fundamental reappraisals of diverse traditional ideas in mycology have become necessary as a result of molecular insights. These different insights are discussed in relation to: the positions of microsporidia, slime moulds and oomycetes; the basal position of lichen fungi in the evolution of ascomycetes forming fruit bodies; remodelling of orders and families; changed generic concepts; the issue of whether permitting a dual nomenclature for the different states of pleomorphic fungi should be continued; and the recognition of additional cryptic species within a "species". The molecular data has necessitated a reassessment of the systematic importance of many types of characters. Also, the techniques open exciting horizons and undreamed of abilities through being able to identify non-sporing fungi in ecological samples and plant material, and revealing unexpected levels of diversity in hitherto little-explored habitats. Major advances in understanding how fungi operate through total genomic approaches can be anticipated as more are completely sequenced. The Pandora's box of molecular surprises is to be seen as one of blessings and not one of miseries and evils.

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