BioInfo (UK)

Ellis, M.B. & J.P., 1997

Microfungi on Land Plants: An Identification Handbook

An encyclopaedic and fairly comprehensive account of the microfungi that grow on living or dead material of native British plants. Commonly cultivated species are also included.

The microfungi covered comprise ascomycetes, mildews (powdery and downy), hyphomycetes, coelomycetes, rusts, smuts and a few other basidiomycetes. It has to be said that the parasitic groups (coelomycetes, mildews, rusts and smuts) were not the Ellises' forté and the coverage is sometimes less complete, but this is a small criticism of a monumental piece of work.

The handbook is arranged in the following chapters:

Plurivorous Wood and Bark Fungi
Plurivorous Leaf-litter Fungi
Fungi Specific to Trees, Shrubs and Woody Climbers
Plurivorous Fungi on Herbaceous Plants
Fungi Specific to Herbaceous Plants other than Grasses, Rushes, Sedges, Bur-reeds and Reedmaces
Plurivorous Fungi on Grasses
Fungi Specific to Grasses
Fungi on Rushes, Sedges, Bur-reeds and Reedmaces
Fungi on Ferns, Horsetails and Clubmosses
Fungi Parasitic on Rusts and Powdery Mildews

Yeasts, eg blooms on fruit, are excluded.

The "specific" sections are arranged under host genus, sorted alphabetically. The entries for many trees are subdivided into: On Leaves, On Catkins/Fruit/Seeds and On Wood and Bark. Finally, longer entries are further subdivided into Discomycetes, Other Ascomycetes, Hyphomycetes, Coelomycetes and (occasionally!) Basidiomycetes. Large sections begin with a key to genera; larger genera also have keys.

The final species accounts are quite short, but more than half are illustrated with line drawings, principally of the microscopy.

The main difficulty of using the handbook is that each collection must be checked through the appropriate (often rather long) "Plurivorous" section, as well as the host-specific entries. This is less of a problem with living substrates as plant pathogens are usually host specific.

The second edition also contains a 35 page supplement of additions and corrections to the main work. An asterisk in the left margin beside the main text indicates a correction or addition.

Absolutely indispensable to anyone interested in plant pathology or fungi of decaying bits of our flora. Thoroughly recommended.

Publisher The Richmond Publishing Co. Ltd
Pages 868
ISBN 0 85546 245 0
Edition 2nd (New Enlarged)
Comments and Corrigenda The book, excellent as it is, conveys the impression that fungi are more faithful to their preferred hosts than is actually the case - fungi don't read the books!

Although many parasitic species are restricted in their host range, there are many plurivorous saprobes as well as less specific parasites and pathogens, so the appropriate "Plurivorous" section must always be checked. As always, identifications should always be confirmed by checking the microscopic features.

P86: Alnus: the rust on Alnus is often distinguished as M. hiratsukanum.

P231: Bramble rusts key (couplet 1): Aecia of Phragmidium violaceum are also common on bramble stems and closely resemble uredia of Kuehneola uredinis: P. violaceum causes violet spots, K. uredinis causes yellow ones and is less common.

P244: Rusts on Salix atro-cinerea etc: Telia: spore WALL thickened to 10 at apex.

P471 & 494 Rotula graminis is a typo for Rutola graminis.

P567: Dasyscyphus pteridis and Mollisia pteridis are based on the same epithet so are the same taxon. Ditto Micropodia pteridina and Mollisia pteridina. Unfortunately the descriptions have been interchanged so that D. pteridis matches M. pteridina and Mollisia pteridis matches Micropodia pteridina.
Coverage Aims to cover all the microfungi associated with living and dead, wild (and commonly cultivated) plants in the British Isles. 3,500 species are covered, which, although not comprehensive, represents the vast majority including almost all that are likely to be found by the non-specialist.
Illustrations 2000 line and stipple drawings on 213 pages at the back.
Identify Under a Compound Microscope (also useful to examine under a Stereo Microscope).
Specimen Prep. Microscopy of spores and related structures.
Difficulty Most are quite easy, if the host plant is identified. Unfortunately, each collection needs to be checked through the appropriate (and rather long) "Plurivorous" section, as well as the host-specific entries.
News There have been numerous name changes since the work was published, but these can generally be sorted out through the FRDBI or NBN websites.

The following groups have been split:

Anther smuts ("Ustilago violacea") have been split into a number of host-specific species and moved into Microbotryum.

Grass choke ("Epichloe typhina") has also been split into host-specific species.

Several new smuts have been added to the British list following examination of plant specimens in the Kew Herbarium. (If new British records can be found so easily, there must be many more in the field!)

Malcolm Storey

Taxonomic Scope

OOMYCOTA Arx (a group of mainly plant-parasitic fungi) Identification Current
(Coelomycetes) (stem- and leaf-fungi) Identification Current Not well-covered - Grove's 2-volume work remains very useful, despite being 70 years old.
(Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes) (dematiaceous anamorphic fungi) Identification Current
(Hyphomycetes) (moulds) Identification Current
ASCOMYCOTA Caval.-Sm. (spore shooters) Identification Current
Ascodichaena rugosa Butin (a discomycete) Identification Current The entry is misleading as it doesn't mention the microconidia.
Botryobasidium Donk (a genus of resupinate fungi) Identification Current
PUCCINIALES Clem. & Shear (rust fungi) Identification Current
USTILAGINOMYCETES R. Bauer, Oberw. & Vánky (smut fungi and relatives) Identification Current
Synchytrium de Bary & Woronin (wart chytrids) Identification Current
(Fungi s.l.) (fungi (in the broad sense)) Identification Current
TRACHEOPHYTA (vascular plants) Background Reading Current


the equivalent for cultivated plants Moore, W.C., 1959
Creative Commons Licence
Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material on the BioInfo website by Malcolm Storey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.