Submitted 9 July 2020, Accepted 21 December 2020, Published 21 January 2021
Corresponding Author: Kevin D. Hyde – e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org 1
A dynamic online documentation of Italian ascomycetes with hosts
and substrates: www.italianmicrofungi.org
Wijesinghe SN1,2, Camporesi E3, Wanasinghe DN4,9,10, Maharachchikumbura
SSN5, Senanayake IC6,8, Phookamsak R4,9,10,11, Hongsanan S6, Tibpromma S4,9,10,
Thambugala KM7, Luangharn T1, McKenzie EHC12 and Hyde KD1,4,8*
1Center of Excellence in Fungal Research, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand
2School of Science, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand
3A.M.B. Gruppo Micologico Forlivese “Antonio Cicognani”, Via Roma 18, Forlì, Italy
4CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Biodiversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese
Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, Yunnan, People’s Republic of China
5School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, 611731,
People’s Republic of China
6Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory for Plant Epigenetics, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Microbial Genetic
Engineering, College of Life Science and Oceanography, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, People’s Republic of
7Genetics and Molecular Biology Unit, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila,
Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
8Innovative Institute of Plant Health, Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering, Haizhu District, Guangzhou
510225, People’s Republic of China
9East and Central Asia Regional Office, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Kunming 650201, Yunnan, People’s
Republic of China
10Honghe Center for Mountain Futures, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Honghe County,
Yunnan, People’s Republic of China
11Research Center of Microbial Diversity and Sustainable Utilization, Faculty of Sciences, Chiang Mai University,
Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
12Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Wijesinghe SN, Camporesi E, Wanasinghe DN, Maharachchikumbura SSN, Senanayake IC,
Phookamsak R, Hongsanan S, Tibpromma S, Thambugala KM, Luangharn T, McKenzie EHC and
Hyde KD 2021 – A dynamic online documentation of Italian ascomycetes with hosts and
substrates: www.italianmicrofungi.org. Asian Journal of Mycology 4(1), 10–18, Doi
Early taxonomic studies of ascomycetous microfungi were conducted based on
morphological observations. With the advent and advancement of DNA based molecular studies
over the last few decades, species, genera, families and orders of Ascomycota have been subjected
to rapid taxonomic changes. In the last eight years, we have introduced many novel fungal taxa
with numerous new host and country records of ascomycetous microfungi from Italy.
Dothideomycetes and Sordariomycetes are the major classes that we have investigated. These
fungal species were collected from more than 300 host species in terrestrial habitats of different
provinces in Italy. The hosts include shrubs, trees and grasses with the substrates differentiated as
branches, stems and leaves. For these taxa, identification and classification were confirmed with
comprehensive descriptions, colour illustrations and multi-gene phylogenetic analyses. These
studies are scattered in different scientific journals. The online documentation at
Asian Journal of Mycology 4(1): 10–18 (2021) ISSN 2651-1339
www.italianmicrofungi.org is a database for arranging all the published data together with novel
updates of present and upcoming studies. Notes for species, genera and up-to-date records of Italian
ascomycetes with accounts on different hosts and substrates are described here. This website
provides a user-friendly and easily accessible framework to extract more information.
Keywords – Classification – Dothideomycetes – Phylogeny – Sordariomycetes – Taxonomy –
Fungi are ubiquitous and a highly diverse group of eukaryotes (Hyde et al. 2018, Sun et al.
2019). Their lifestyles vary as biotrophic, endophytic, epiphytic, hemibiotrophic, saprobic or
fungicolous (Hyde et al. 2018, Sun et al. 2019, Tennakoon et al. 2020). Over the last 300 years,
fungal identification, classification, and speculation on the relationships among taxa were based on
phenotypic characters. These phenotypic observations have been used as major tools of fungal
researchers and were recorded with descriptions and line drawings (Hyde et al. 2011, Jayasiri et al.
2015, Tekpinar & Kalmer 2019, Tennakoon et al. 2020). However, morphology may not always
reflect phylogenetic relationships (Judd et al. 2002). Identification of species based on morphology
is challenging and highly subjective, especially among species complexes, non-sporulating fungi
and cryptic species (Jeewon et al. 2002, Promputtha et al. 2005, 2007, Jayasiri et al. 2015). The
initial investigations of phenotypic approaches, as well as chemical, ecological, molecular and
physiological analyses, are very important in fungal taxonomy (Manawasinghe et al. 2019). The
project, Assembling the Fungal Tree of Life (AFToL), provided molecular data for most of the
orders and families of Ascomycota, and this was the start of the golden era of mycology (James et
al. 2006, Hyde et al. 2020a). Morphology was linked to analyze the results from advanced
molecular techniques, and DNA based phylogeny was developed as informative tools with better
taxonomic resolution (Senanayake et al. 2017a, Hongsanan et al. 2018, Wanasinghe et al. 2018,
Tennakoon et al. 2020). This combined taxonomic approach has led to the resolution of numerous
taxonomic issues and has provided more reliable classification than traditional morphology-based
tools (Jayasiri et al. 2015).
Earlier treatments in Italian mycology dealt with macrofungi (Venturella 1991). Alfonso
Ciccarelli (1532–1585) completed the first mycological monograph for macrofungi in Italy based
on morphological and organoleptic aspects of truffles (Ciccarelli 1564). However, Italian
microfungal publications were concerned with only a few taxa (Venturella 1991). Giuseppe de
Notaris (1805–1877), Vincenzo de Cesati (1806–1883) and Pier Andrea Saccardo (1845–1920)
were significant early contributors to Italian, as well as world mycology (Onofri et al. 1999,
Phukhamsakda et al. 2020). Pampaloni (1902) reported the fossil records of Italian ascomycetes
related to the Miocene epoch. Saccardo (1882) provided detailed documentation for mycology and
a rapid increase in microfungal studies occurred between 1931–1990 (Venturella 1991). A checklist
of Sicilian fungi (Southern Italy) including hosts and substrates was published by Venturella
(1991), and it is a very important resource for understanding Italian fungal diversity and ecology.
Zucconi et al. (1997) studied the dematiaceous hyphomycetes microfungal communities in
Mediterranean evergreen forests in central Italy. Venturella et al. (2011) reported the estimated
number of regional ascomycetes and basidiomycetes up to 2010. The history of Italian mycology
and the valuable contributions of great mycologists are reported by Siniscalco et al. (2013).
Ascomycota is the largest phylum, comprising Dothideomycetes and Sordariomycetes as
major classes in the subphylum, Pezizomycotina (Hyde et al. 2013, 2020a, Maharachchikumbura et
al. 2015, 2016, Wijayawardene et al. 2018, 2020, Hongsanan et al. 2020). PhD researchers and
expert mycologists in the Center of Excellence in Fungal Research (CEFR) group have studied
most of the Italian ascomycetes collected by Erio Camporesi who has promoted mycological
studies as a prodigious amateur mycologist (Phukhamsakda et al. 2020). Currently, several PhD
students at CEFR are studying fresh specimens from Erio Camporesi with amazing discoveries of
novel taxa as well as novel host and geographical records of ascomycetes. These CEFR studies are
published regularly in different scientific journals. “Asian Journal of Mycology notes, Fungal
diversity notes and Mycosphere notes” are key journal series providing more information of
worldwide fungi and include many Italian ascomycetes (Ariyawansa et al. 2015, Wijayawardene et
al. 2016, Hyde et al. 2017, 2019, 2020a, b, c, Senanayake et al. 2017b, Jayawardena et al. 2018,
Wanasinghe et al. 2018, Phookamsak et al. 2019). Preserving scientific data through the
documentation by recording fungal morphology, taxonomy and ecological information is a valuable
process in mycology (Lange 2010). Mycologists have a responsibility to popularize fungal
information, by inspiring and spreading informative outreach materials, and providing easily
accessible websites, and openly accessed databases (Lange 2010). A strong foundation for applied
biological fields such as ecology, pathology and industrial can be provided through spreading
primary fungal taxonomic data.
Why Italian microfungi are very important?
Early studies of Italian microfungi were based on morphological observations, as was the
case worldwide. Several mycologists in Italy contributed immensely to fungal systematics by
extensive collections of fungal specimens. Notable among these were the collections and early
studies by P. A. Saccardo. Italian fungal specimens are significant to study as among them are new
orders, families, genera and species as well as new hosts and geographic reports. Recollecting
fungal specimens can serve as epitypes and authentic herbarium materials of extant species with
sequence data. The host specificity and life mode details can be updated when dealing with
recollected specimens from different environments and host plants.
The need for Italian microfungi database
There is a massive collection of publications for Italian microfungi by the CEFR group.
These documentations can be categorized as providing novel taxa, new host records and new
geographical records from Italian sites. These publications comprise species descriptions,
illustrations, and molecular phylogeny, which provides a comprehensive analysis of species
delineation. However, it largely remains to reconstruct the accurate taxonomic placements for all
taxa, especially for earliest studied taxa with their DNA sequence data. In our new website, we deal
with the information of previously published Italian ascomycetes and will provide continuous
updates from novel studies that are currently being processed by the CEFR group. The objectives of
this website are to gather all information into one comprehensive source and to make it readily
available to mycologists worldwide. This study provides up-to-date accounts of Italian ascomycetes
on different hosts and substrates with recent taxonomic changes. In addition, we also provide notes
on genera and species reported from Italy.
Importance of gathering morphological and ecological data into a single tool
The preference of modern researchers is increasingly to refer to databases rather than books
and other publications to gather the scattered knowledge. A database is technically easy to handle
and much less time-consuming. Therefore, gathering morphological and ecological data into a
single tool is a very flexible and time-saving method for researchers. Index Fungorum
(www.indexfungorum.org), MycoBank (www.mycobank.org), Facesoffungi
(www.facesoffungi.org), Sordariomycetes (www.sordariomycetes.org), Dothideomycetes
(www.dothideomycetes.org) and Coelomycetes (www.coelomycetes.org) are commonly used
websites in studies of ascomycetes.
Italian microfungi website
In the Italian microfungi website, ascomycetous species associated with over 300 hosts from
different regions in Italy have been identified. The substrates are reported mainly as branches (from
shrubs and trees), stems (from herbaceous hosts and grasses) and rarely leaves (from shrubs, trees
and grasses). These specimens are mainly from the provinces of Forlì-Cesena (in the region of
Emilia-Romagna) and Arezzo (in the region of Tuscany) with fewer collections from the provinces
of Bologna and Ravenna (in Emilia-Romagna), Firenze (in Tuscany), Pesaro-Urbino (in Marche),
Trento (in Trentino-Alto Adige) and Udine (Friuli-Venezia Giulia). This is an informative and user-
friendly platform to provide in-depth knowledge of Italian ascomycetes and related host species.
The host specificity and the life modes of Italian ascomycetes are evaluated. In the pursuit of
discovering more fungi from Italy, this study is extending to investigate the taxonomy and
phylogeny of microfungal taxa. In addition, the other websites from the CEFR group;
Dothideomycetes (www.dothideomycetes.org; Pem et al. 2019), Sordariomycetes
(www.sordariomycetes.org; Bundhun et al. 2020) and Coelomycetes (www.coelomycetes.org;
Wijayawardene et al. 2016, Li et al. 2020) are linked to this new website for extracting relevant
information of Italian ascomycetes.
Italian ascomycetes, which were identified and published by the CEFR group, are listed on
the website together with their hosts and substrates. Species, which are currently being studied, will
be regularly entered. For each entry of identified species, Index Fungorum, Facesoffungi,
MycoBank and/or ex-type culture collection, dry culture collection, herbaria numbers and available
GenBank numbers for sequence data are provided. Updated information is periodically inserted
based on both previous and novel studies. Mycological experts who studied large numbers of
Italian ascomycetes during the past eight years have been assigned as curators to share their
knowledge and suggestions (Table 1).
Table 1 List of curators for Italian microfungi webpage.
Database interface and visualization
The Italian microfungi website is functional, easy to access and navigate for searching. The
overview of the homepage provides a comprehensive understanding of the website at a glance.
There are several navigation bars, searching options and some informative details are visualized on
the homepage (Figs. 1, 2).
Details of main headings
Home – The homepage provides a detailed account of our entire project (Figs. 1, 2). When the
user opens the webpage, the objectives are envisioned at the left top (Fig. 1a). The main
headings are described as Home, Host/Substrate, Archives, Curators, History, References,
News and Contact (Fig. 1b). Below the header bar, a search box is included where information
on a specific fungal order, family, genus or species can be searched by entering the name (Fig.
1c). Recent news, genera and species which are updated (Fig. 1d) can be seen at the right side
of the interface. The user can easily cite the webpage using the citation at the front (Fig. 1e).
The contact details (Fig. 2a), publisher and copyright details are provided at the bottom (Fig.
Host/Substrate – This gives the records of host occurrences on which fungal species are
collected. We follow the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) for host identification. The
search option is provided for easy searching of the hosts, based on user requirements (Fig. 3).
Archives – Through this heading, the user can find the taxonomic classification of related taxa
at order, family, genus and species level (Fig. 4). When the user opens the “Archives” interface,
the list of orders related to Italian fungi is visualized. By clicking on relevant order, the link will
navigate to “Read more about the order” or related family list of the order. Inside families, the
list of associated genera and species are available.
Curators – Photographs and contact details of curators are provided (Fig. 5, Table 1).
History – An account of Italian mycological history, ascomycetes, host list and collecting
provinces are provided (Fig. 6).
References – A list of references used in the entries, history and other information related to the
Italian ascomycetes are provided under this heading.
News – The key events, new findings and important information regarding Italian microfungi
are included here.
Contact – Users can provide their comments and suggestions on this webpage.
Fig. 1 – Homepage view of Italian microfungi webpage. a Objectives of the webpage. b Headers. c
Search box. d Recently updated news, recent genera and species. e Citation of the webpage.
Fig. 2 – Bottom view of the homepage. a Contact details. b Publisher and copyright information.
Fig. 3 – Host/substrate header of the webpage. a Find next. b Find previous. c Back to top.
Fig. 4 – Archives header of the webpage.
Fig. 5 – Curators header of the webpage.
Fig. 6 – History header of the webpage.
S.N. Wijesinghe offers her profound gratitude to the Mushroom Research Foundation (MRF),
Thailand for financial support and Mae Fah Luang University. Further, S.N. Wijesinghe would like
to thank Saranyaphat Boonmee for her precious assistance to continue this project. S. Tibpromma
would like to thank the International Postdoctoral Exchange Fellowship Program (number
Y9180822S1), CAS President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) (number 2020PC0009),
China Postdoctoral Science Foundation and the Yunnan Human Resources, and Social Security
Department Foundation for funding her postdoctoral research. R. Phookamsak thanks CAS
President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) for young staff (Grant No. Y9215811Q1), the
National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) project code 31850410489 (Grant No. Y81I982211)
and Chiang Mai University for their partial support of this research work. S. Hongsanan thanks
National Natural Science Foundation of China for supporting the project Biodiversity, Taxonomy,
Phylogeny, Evolution and Phytogeography of Phytopathogens in Dothideomycetes from Southern
China (Grant No. 31950410548). D.N. Wanasinghe would like to thank CAS President’s
International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) for funding his postdoctoral research (number
2019PC0008) and the 64th batch of China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant No.
Y913083271). K.D. Hyde would like to thank the Thailand Research Fund (“Impact of climate
change on fungal diversity and biogeography in the Greater Mekong Sub-region RDG6130001”).
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