Comparative ontogeny of Thelebolus, Lasiobolus, and Thecotheus (Pezizales, Ascomycetes)

Material Information

Comparative ontogeny of Thelebolus, Lasiobolus, and Thecotheus (Pezizales, Ascomycetes)
Conway, Kenneth Edward, 1943- ( Dissertant )
Kimbrough, James W. ( Thesis advisor )
Shanor, Leland ( Reviewer )
Aldrich, Henry C. ( Reviewer )
Griffin, Dana G. ( Reviewer )
Schmidt, Robert A. ( Reviewer )
Zettler, Francis W. ( Reviewer )
Reynolds, John E. ( Degree grantor )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
97 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Asci ( jstor )
Conidiophores ( jstor )
Feces ( jstor )
Fungi ( jstor )
Genera ( jstor )
Hyphae ( jstor )
Mycelium ( jstor )
Mycology ( jstor )
Ontogeny ( jstor )
Species ( jstor )
Botany thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Botany -- UF
Fungi ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


A comparative ontogenetic study was initiated on three genera of coprophilous discomycetes ; Thelebolus , Lasiobolus , and Thecotheus . These organisms were chosen because they represented fungi that possess different numbers of asci and ascospores per apothecium. These genera have been placed at one time or another in the family Thelebolaceae , The variability of characteristics for these three genera and others previously reported seems to indicate that the familial limits of Thelebolaceae should be much more restricted. Thelebolus stercoreus shows an ascocarp ontogeny similar to Trichobolus zukalii . The mycelium of T. stercoreus is uninucleate. Ascogonial initiation begins with an evagination from a parent hypha. No croziers are formed as the single ascus grows directly from a privileged cell of the ascogonial coil. Nuclear divisions in the ascus have been followed and photographed, Thelebolus stercoreus represents perhaps the highest evolutionary form found in the coprophilous habitat. Its unique structures must limit the family Thelebolaceae to Thelebolus , Trichobolus and perhaps Ascozonus and Caccobius , The latter two genera need further study before a familial alliance can be established. The ontogeny of Lasiobolus ciliatus begins with an evagination from a parent hypha that develops into a multicellular stalked ascogonium, Hyphae from cells below the ascogonium and from surrounding hyphae ensheath the ascogonium. This development is similar to that shown for Cheilymenia stercorea , Scutellinia scutellata and Coprobia granulata , Ascogenous hyphal growth is terminated by the development of croziers ( pleurorhynque ) , In the present study ascal cytology has been described and photographed. The mycelium of L. ciliatus is uninucleate. The development of the diagnostic hairs of Lasiobolus is presented. The study of ascocarp ontogeny was facilitated with plastic embedding. It is suggested that Lasiobolus has familial affinities with the Aleuriaceae. Ontogenetic features of Thecotheus were investigated using two species, Thecotheus cinereus , an eight-spored species and Thecotheus pelletieri , a 32-spored species. The ascogenous system of Thecotheus consists of a series of ascogonial cells similar to that of Ascobolus citrinus . The ascogonia give rise to ascogenous hyphae that terminate with the formation of croziers ( pleurorhynque ) . The mycelium of both species is mostly multinucleate. Both species also produce "primordial humps" that consist of bulbous cells that resemble the microconidia of Ascobolus carbonarius . This stage precedes ascocarp initiation, and they appear to only function in excipular formation. A sympodial imperfect stage of T. pelletieri is described and photographed. Sympodial conidia have also been described for the Aleuriaceae. It is thought until more information is available for Thecotheus and other genera, especially in the Aleuriaceae, the best placement is in the lodophaneae of the Ascobolaceae.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1973.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 91-96).
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kenneth Edward Conway.

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University of Florida
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Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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The guidance, friendship and patience of Dr. James W.

Kimbrough throughout this course of study is greatly

.appreciated. I am also indebted to the entire committee
for time spent in critical reading of the dissertation and

for their helpful comments and suggestions. Also, I wish

to tank my wife, Cynthia, for her love, encouragement, and

typing cf the dissertation. This dissertation is dedicated

to our first child, Kenna Anne, born January 28, 1973.








Collection 14

Spore Shooting 14

Germination 15

Single Spore Cultures 16

Media 16

Staining 17

Embedding 19

Sectioning 22


Vegetative Features 24

Ontogeny 25

Ascogenous System 26

Cytology of the Ascus 27

Discussion 23


Vegetative Features 35

Ontogeny 36

Ascogenous System 38

Cytology of the Ascus 38

Discussion 40


Thecotheus cinereus 49

Vegetative Features 49

Ontogeny 49

Ascogenous System 50

Thecotheus pelletieri 51

Vegetative Features 51

Imperfect Stage 52

Discussion 54






Figures 1-14 Thelebolus stercoreus 72

-Figures 15-25 Thelebolus stercoreus 74

Figures 26-36 Lasiobolus ciliatus 76

Figures 37-45 Lasiobolus ciliatus 78

Figures 46-56 Lasiobolus ciliatus 80

Figures 57-63 Thecotheus cinereus 82

Figures 64-69 Thecotneus cinereus 84

Figures 70-74 Thecotheus pelletieri 84

Figures 75-64 Thecotheus pelleticri 86

Figures 85-95 Thecotheus pelletieri 88

Figure 96 Stalked ascogonium of Coprobia
granulata (Humaria granulata); from
Gwynne-Vaughan and Williamson (1930). 90

Figure 97 Stalked ascogonium of Cheilymenia
stercorea (Lachnea stercorea); from
Fraser (1907). 90

Figure 98 Diagrammatic cross-section of
ascocarp showing the stalked
ascogonium of Scutellinia scutellata
(Lachnea scutellata); from Brown (1911).90

Figure 99 Stalked ascogonium of Lasiobolus
monascus; from Kimbrough (1973, in
press). 90

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Kenneth Edward Conway

December, 1973

Chairman: James W. Kimbrough
Major Department: Botany

A comparative ontogenetic study was initiated on three

genera of coprophilous discomycetes; Thelebolus, Lasiobolus,

and Thecotheus. These organisms were chosen because they

represented fungi that possess different numbers of asci and

ascospores per apothecium. These genera have been placed at

one time or another in the family Thelebolaceae. The

variability of characteristics for these three genera and

others previously reported seems to indicate that the famil-

ial limits of Thelebolaceae should be much more restricted.

Thelebolus stercoreus shows an ascocarp ontogeny similar

to Trichobolus zukalii. The mycelium of T. stercoreus is

uninucleate. Ascogonial initiation begins with an evagination

from a parent hypha. No croziers are formed as the single

ascus grows directly from a privileged cell of the ascogonial

coil. Nuclear divisions in the ascus have been followed and

photographed. Thelebolus stercoreus represents perhaps the

highest evolutionary form found in the coprophilous habitat.

Its unique structures must limit the family Thelebolaceae to

Thelebolus, Trichobolus and perhaps Ascozonus and Caccobius.

The latter two genera need further study before a familial

alliance can be established.

The ontogeny of Lasiobolus ciliatus begins with an

evagination from a parent hypha that develops into a multi-

cellular stalked ascogonium. Hyphae from cells below the

ascogonium and from surrounding hyphae ensheath the

ascogonium. This development is similar to that shown for

Cheilynenia stercorea, Scutellinia scutellata and Coprobia

granulata. Ascogenous hyphal growth is terminated by the

development of croziers (pleurorhynque). In the present

study ascal cytology has been described and photographed.

The mycelium of L. ciliatus is uninucleate. The development

of the diagnostic hairs of Lasiobolus is presented. The

study of ascocarp ontogeny was facilitated with plastic

embedding. It is suggested that Lasiobolus has familial

affinities with the Aleuriaceae.

Ontogenetic features of Thecotheus were investigated

using two species, Thecotheus cinereus, an eight-spored

species and Thecotheus pelletieri, a 32-spored species. The

ascogenous system of Thecotheus consists of a series of

ascogonial cells similar to that of Ascobolus citrinus. The

ascogonia give rise to ascogenous hyphae that terminate with

the formation of croziers (pleurorhynque). The mycelium of

both species is mostly multinucleate. Both species also

produce "primordial humps" that consist of bulbous cells

that resemble the microconidia of Ascobolus carbonarius.

This stage precedes ascocarp initiation, and they appear to

only function in excipular formation. A sympodial imperfect

stage of T. pelletieri is described and photographed.

Sympodial conidia have also been described for the

Aleuriaceae. It is thought until more information is avail-

able for Thecotheus and other genera, especially in the

Aleuriaceae, the best placement is in the Iodophaneae of

the Ascobolaceae.



Many mycologists have commented on the "ubiquitous

fungi," and this ever-present characteristic is perhaps

best illustrated by those fungi that are coprophilous. A

world of fascinating and useful organisms is opened for an

observer, representing taxa from all major classes of fungi.

Most coprophilous fungi possess a life cycle that

includes ingestion by animals. The spores of these fungi

are passed through the animal and deposited in the feces.

In most cases this passage through the animal seems to be

required for spore germination. This habitat specificity

and special pre-germination treatment often makes it

difficult to germinate, culture and sporulate these organ-

isms in the laboratory.

If one considers the dung substrate as an island in a

sea of grass, some problems of dispersal become evident.

Many coprophilous organisms have developed certain ecolog-

ical adaptations which insure the survival of these peculiar

organisms. One of tnese adaptations is the development of

a projectile mechanism which hurls the spores from the dung

specimen to blades of the surrounding grass where the spores

are eaten by grazing herbivores to be "treated" and re-


Another ecological adaptation is the phototropic

response.- This response is closely correlated with spore


ejection so that maximum distance is obtained by the pro-

jectile. Spore ejection usually takes place in the early

afternoon coinciding with maximum elevation of the spore-

bearing structures.

Perhaps the phycomycetous genus, Pilobolus, has been

studied the most (Buller, 1934; Ingold, 1965; Page, 1964).

It is known that a single multispored sporangium can be

projected a considerable distance and with surprising

accuracy. This trait is paralleled by other coprophilous

forms. Most of these fungi that propel their spores are

multispored, a characteristic which better insures the

continued survival of the organism since some of the spores

discharged from the dung are more likely to reach a suitable


Other unusual coprophilous forms which appear to have

special adaptive features for this habitat include Sporormia,

Basidiobolus and Sphaerobolus. In Soorormia, a genus of the

Sporormiaceae, rather than an increased number of spores per

ascus, the eight original spores fragment to produce the

multispored ascus. In Basidiobolus, a saprobic genus of the

Entomophthoraceae, a conidium is propelled by the action of

the conidiophore. In culture the projectile mechanism, as

well as the phototropic response of the conidiophores, can

be observed. The result is a progressive march of the

organism across the agar surface as conidia germinate to

produce new conidiophores. Sphaerobolus of the

Sphaerobolaceae displays similar tendencies in the

Basidiomycetes. The peridiole is surrounded by several

layers of cells which reduce desiccation, and each peridiole

can be forcibly discharged.

The coprophilous discomycetes show these ecological

adaptations plus several additional peculiarities. There is

a tendency for the coprophilous forms to have more than eight

spores per ascus. Very rarely will one encounter a multi-

spored member of the Pezizales outside the coprophilous forms.

Ingold (1965) states that the larger spores or spore masses

tend to be shot a greater distance and stand a better chance

of effective dispersal than smaller ones.

An increased number of spores per ascus is accompanied

by decreases in spore size and the number of asci per

apothecium. A decrease in the number of asci is also corre-

lated with the angiocarpic development of the ascocarp.

Several workers (Kimbrough, 1966b; Kimbrough and Korf, 1967;

Eckblad, 1968) have shown that the number of asci per

apothecium is variable and is related to ecological conditions,

the number of spores per ascus being greater in the uniascal

forms. This would seem to indicate that each ascocarp has a

certain potential for spore production which may be reached

through various combinations in the number of asci and

ascospores. Recently, however, cultural work with the genus

Thelebolus (Wicklow and Malloch, 1971) indicates that the

reported variability of asci per apothecium is actually the

result of several different closely related organisms of the

same genus inhabiting the same specimen and that the number

of asci per apothecium is not necessarily subject to varia-


Desiccation is another factor which affects the surviv-

al of the multispored discomycetes. Single spores in

species with eight-spored asci often possess thick pigmented

walls which help prevent harmful effects of sunlight and

desiccation. The multispored forms eject their spores in a

mucilaginous mass. These spores are usually smaller and

possess thin walls. The multispored feature may insure the

survival of many spores since the inner core of spores is

surrounded with an expendable, dead outer layer. The thinner

walls of the surviving spores may require less treatment

than the thicker walled spores and, therefore, germinate

more readily on a suitable substrate.

As these unusual forms were studied and more information

gathered by research, mycologists turned to the task of

classifying the various coprophilous fungi. These

discomycetes were originally placed in the Ascobolaceae.

Boudier (1869) saw differences in spore color and using this

criterion separated the Ascobolaceae into two groups:

Ascobolei Spurii, for the hyaline spored species, and


Ascobolei Genuini for the dark spored forms. Into the

Ascobolei Spurii he placed three genera, separating each

according to the number of spores per ascus; Ascophanus with

eight or sixteen spores, and Ryparobius and Thecotheus, both

multispored. Thecotheus possessed thicker walled spores,

more cylindrical asci, more elongate paraphyses and larger

apothecia than Ryparobius.

Saccardo (1884) recognized differences in apothecial

characteristics of Ascophanus and erected the genus Lasiobolus

for the setose species.

New insight into the coprophilous discomycetes was

offered by Chenantais (1918) when he examined specimens of

Ascophanus cinereus (Cr. & Cr.) Boud. and determined that the

affinities of this eight-spored species lay within the iLaulti-

spored genus Thecotheus. Until this time the artificial

classification, using spore number per ascus established by

Boudier, had been used to separate genera. This contribu-

tion of Chenantais was later reinforced by the work of

Kimbrough (1966b) and Kimbrough and Korf (1967).

Kimbrough and Korf (1967) erected the tribe Theleboleae

of the Pezizaceae to include those genera with hyaline, eight-

to multispored asci which are non-amyloid, operculate or

irregularly dehiscing. Their major emphasis was on the

nature of the ascus, ascospores, ascocarps and cultural

characteristics. They rejected the taxonomic importance of

the spore number for separation of genera. They maintained

that there is close correlation between these emphasized

features within each group found in the tribe Theleboleae.

The Pseudoascoboleae was abandoned because it was not based

on the name of a genus.

Van Brummelen (1967) elevated the tribe Theleboleae to

.a subfamily Theleboloideae of the Ascobolaceae. He excluded

several species included by Kimbrough and Korf in their tribe

Theleboleae. Later, Eckblad (1968) and Rifai (1968) raised

the subfamily to familial status, Thelebolaceae. Eckblad

extended Van Brummelen's characterization of the

Theleboloideae to include the inoperculate genera of

Kimbrough and Korf (1967) and Thecotheus. His reason for

familial status was that a taxon containing both operculate

and inoperculate forms should be separated from other exclu-

sively operculate taxa at the familial level.

The investigations of Kimbrough (1966b) and Kimbrough

and Korf (1967) have greatly aided the characterization of

genera in the Thelebolaceae. Thus far, the main emphasis

has been morphology of apothecia, asci and ascospores. Little

emphasis has been placed on cytological, developmental and

cultural studies.

Recently, the work of Wicklow and Malloch (1971) has

helped to explain the many forms of Thelebolus. By culturing

various forms of Thelebolus they found that the number of spores

per ascus and the number of asci per apothecium is consistent

at the species level. Previous to this, variable numbers of

spores and asci had been reported by different authors

(Ramlow, 1906; Massee and Salmon, 1901; Kimbrough and Korf,


At the generic level, however, the phenomena of increased

'spores per ascus and reduced number of asci per apothecium

is very evident in the coprophilous Pezizales. This tend-

ency is present in seven genera of the Thelebolaceae and in

one genus of the Pezizaceae (Kimbrough, 1972a). Very little

is known of the cytological events that determine whether

asci will be eight-spored or multispored, and whether the

apothecium becomes uniascal or multiascal.

Recently there has been increasing evidence that the

Thelebolaceae may not be a natural group due to the hetero-

geneity of many characteristics (Arpin, 1968; Berthet,

1964a; Kish, 1971; Kimbrough and Korf, 1967; Kimbrough,

1970; Milam, 1971).

The mycelium of the coprophilous discomycetes possesses

a variety of nuclear conditions. Berthet (1964a) stated

that all Pezizales studied possess a coenocytic mycelium.

However, there are some organisms such as Trichobolus

(Kimbrough, 1966a) and Coprotus (Kish, 1971) that have been

shown to be uninucleate. The excipulum also possesses vary-

ing numbers of nuclei. Milam (1971) has shown that the

excipular cells and mycelium of Iodophanus granulipolaris

Kimbr. are coenocytic. Kimbrough (1966a) has shown that the

excipulum of Trichobolus zukalii Kimbr. is uninucleate.

The diversity of the coprophilous discomycetes is also

illustrated by the morphology of their ascogonia, crozier

systems and ascocarp ontogeny. Types of plasmogamy in the

coprophilous discomycetes vary greatly. In genera such as

Thelebolus and Trichobolus compatible nuclei are already in

the system. In Lasiobolus, hyphal fusion occurs, whereas,

in Coprotus lacteus fusion is the result of an ascogonium

and a trichogyne. Ascogonia vary in form from a coil of

ascogonial cells such as in Trichobolus zukalii to a well

formed Pyronema-like ascogonium complete with trichogyne as

in Coprotus lacteus (Ck. & Phill.) Kimor., Luck-Allen and


Chadefaud (1943) described several types of systems,

including acrorhynque, pleurorhynque, aporhynque, and compose.

The acrorhynque consists of a terminal uninucleate cell with

a binucleate subterminal cell. The pleurorhynque has the

greatest variability. Essentially, it is the typical crozier.

The variability depends on whether the terminal cell fuses

with the uninucleate cell beneath the subterminal cell or

whether it remains free. The aporhynque is a simplification

of the pleurorhynque type. In the aporhynque type two nuclei

undergo parallel mitoses and two different daughter nuclei

are incluaea in the terminal cell through the formation of

a cross wall. No lateral hook is formed. In the compose

type a series of binucleate cells is delimited; each cell

may be fertile and produce an ascus.

Many difficulties are encountered in the study of the

ascogenous systems and are summarized by Berthet (1964a) who

outline types of ascogenous systems known for various

discomycete taxa. From his summary and research it appears

that a majority of ascomycetes possess the pleurorhynque

system. Tne next most frequent ascogenous system is the

aporhynque type.

The Ascobolaceae, Humariaceae, and Aleuriaceae have

representative genera of both the pleurorhynque and aporhynque

types. Variability is the rule even in ascogenous systems.

Certain species, such as Galactinia ampelina, possess both

pleurorhynque and aporhynque systems within the same


There are several known examples of ascogenous systems

in the Thelebolaceae. Tricnobolus zukalii possesses no

ascogenous hypnae or croziers (Kimbrough, 1966a). However,

it could be classified as acrorhynque because the ascal mother

cell in T. zukalii is produced by septation of the parent

hypha resulting in the inclusion of two compatible nuclei

into one non-terminal cell. Kish (1971) has shown that

Coprotus lacteus possesses a compose type, and Milam (1971)

has shown that lodophanus granulipolaris possesses

a true crozier system of the pleurorhynque type. Lasiobolus

ciliatus is reported by Berthet (1964a) as possessing an

aporhynque ascogenous system.

Berthet also reports that in the Ascobolaceae,

Ascobolus carbonarius has an aporhynque system, while

Pyronema omphalodes has a fused pleurorhynque system.

Genera of the Humariaceae possessing the pleurorhynque

system include: Anthracobia melaloma, Cheilymenia aurea,

and Scutellinia sp.

Van Brummelen (1967) outlined a system of ascocarp

ontogeny according to the maturation and exposure of the

hymenium. The heterogeneity of the coprophilous forms is

again evident. The hymenium of organisms such as Thelebolus

stercoreus and Trichobolus zukalii is closed throughout its

development. Ascocarps of other genera open at various

times exposing their hymenia at different stages of


Berthet (1964b) and Eckblad (1968) summarized the

imperfect stages of the discomycetes. The majority of the

genera listed possess an Oedocephalum imperfect stage.

Oedocephalum forms blastoconidia. Operculate genera

listed as possessing an imperfect stage were found in the

families Pezizaceae, Pyronemaceae and Aleuriaceae.

Paden (1972) has reclassified many of the imperfect

stages to fit within the current taxonomy for imperfects.

The Pezizaceae now contains imperfect stages that form

blastoconiaia and alcurioconidia. The Pyronemaceae form

oiaia. The family Otideaceae possesses Botrytis-like

imperfect stages which are blastoconidia. The imperfects

of the Aleuriaceae form sympoduloconidia. Oidia occur in

the Ascobolaceae. There are no reports of imperfect stages

in tne Thelebolaceae.

Tne presence of an imperfect stage in the coprophilous

forms has been considered, until recently, of little impor-

tance. The only forms that have been linked to an imperfect

stage are Iodophanus carneus (Pers. per Pers.) Korf and two

species of Ascobolus. Korf (1958) and Gamundi and Ranalli

(1964) reported an Oedocephalum imperfect stage for I.

carneus, and Greene (1931) has shown oidia in Ascobolus.

The emphasis placed on the systematics of the

aiscomycetes in 1967 (Van Brummelen), 1968 (Eckblad and

Rifai) and 1970 (Kimbrough) was re-emphasized at a world-

wide symposium in Exeter, England.

In his summary at the symposium Korf (1972b) listed

tne current methods of study of the discomycetes. Included

in the discussion were: microanatomical studies of the

apothecia, cultural studies, studies of nuclear numbers,

ontogenetic studies of ascocarp development, ascal wall

characteristics, ana chemotaxononic and physiotaxonomic


The organisms that I have chosen to investigate show a

marked variation in spore number per ascus and In the number

of asci per apothecium. From such variations, evolutionary

tendencies perhaps can be postulated. Lasiobolus ciliatus

(Kunze and Schmidt) Boud. represents one end of a line in

which eight spores are formed per ascus and a multiascal

apothecium is characteristic. Thecotheus pelletieri (Cr. &

Cr.) Boud. represents an intermediate condition, having a 32-

spored ascus with fewer asci per apothecium. Thelebolus

stercoreus represents perhaps the most advanced coprophilous

form, for it has a multispored ascus and a uniascal


With regard to current emphasis in discomycete studies,

the following information will be included wherever possible:

vegetative features, ontogeny of initials, ascogenous system

and cytology of the ascus. Information concerning the

vegetative features includes; determination of the nuclear

condition of the mycelium, mycelial structures such as coils

and chlamydospores, rate of growth in cultures, and occur-

rence of inter-hyphal growth. Ontogeny includes types of

plasmogamy, coiling of hyphal initials (archicarp), and

significant changes occurring during ascocarp ontogeny.

Observations are included concerning the nuclear condition

of the ascogonia and the presence, absence, and type of

crozier system. Other observations concern the cytology of


the ascus, showing the nuclear divisions leading to spore

formation and the nuclear conditions of the spores.

It now appears that the family Thelebolaceae is a very

heterogenous group of organisms with their occurrence on

dung being perhaps the only common bond which unites them

as a family. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation

is to describe the significant features of three species

that have been placed, at one time, in the family. The

criteria that are developed will then be used to place these

species into more natural familial alliances.



Collections of the dung of various animals in the

Gainesville area were made beginning in January, 1970. These

collections were placed in moist chambers to encourage the

growth of fungi. Mature apothecia appeared within 1-2 weeks

and were picked off the dung. Care was taken to avoid

contamination from bacteria and other fungi which are abun-

dant on dung.

Spore Shooting

The apothecia were fastenea on the lid of a petri plate

with petroleum jelly and inverted over dung agar. The lid

was rotated four times at 30-minute intervals, resulting in

four groups of discharged spores. Another technique for

obtaining pure cultures was to pick an apothecium off the

dung sample and put it into a petri plate. A sterile Van

Tieghem ring was placed around the apothecium and a sterile

coverslip placed on the ring. Released spores were impacted

on the coverslip. Agar blocks or coverslips with spores

were used in germination and cultural studies.


In most cases spores, upon germination, were picked

from the agar and transferred to dung oatmeal agar plates.

Sometimes, however, as in the case of Thecotheus cinereus,

the spores would not germinate and additional treatment was

required. This consisted of cutting out blocks of agar

containing the spores and placing them on sterile slides

enclosed in petri plate moist chambers (Riddell, 1950). The

blocks were treated with a drop of 2% KOH and covered with

a sterile coverslip. Spores thus treated usually germi-

nated within two days. If this treatment was unsuccessful,

the KOH treatment was modified by placing the moist chamber

in a 60 C oven for a few hours. Blocks with germinated

spores were then cut into quarters and transferred to dung

oatmeal agar plates for further growth. Slide cultures also

provided an excellent opportunity to study spore germination,

primordial development and to check for conidial stages.

In mature colonies of Thelebolus stercoreus and

Lasiobolus ciliatus, apothecia appeared in 1-2 weeks.

Thecotheus required a longer period of time for development

in deep dish agar cultures. Slant cultures were kept on

dung oatmeal agar.

Single Spore Cultures

Cultures used in determination of mating compatibility

were obtained in several ways. One method that was similar

to the germination technique was to shoot spores onto dung

agar, cut out blocks of agar and place them on a sterile

slide. The slide was placed in a moist chamber and the

spores allowed to incubate overnight at room temperature.

Germinating spores were picked off the block with a fine

needle under low power (40X) of a microscope. Macerating

a few apothecia in a drop of water and using a sterile loop

to streak the drop over the surface of a dung agar plate,

was also employed. Again, incubation was overnight at room

temperature. The germinating spores were picked from the

plate with a fine needle under low power of the microscope.

Single spore cultures were then transferred to dung oatmeal

slants and plates.


Dung agar was used for primary isolation because it

is a better growth medium for coprophilous organisms. It

was prepared by soaking approximately 12.5 gm. of rabbit,

cow or horse dung overnight in 100 ml. of water. For full

extraction the dung was macerated into small pieces and

this mixture was filtered through several layers of cheese-

cloth. The supernatant was refiltered through a Buchner

funnel with the aid of a vacuum pump. The volume was

brought to 500 ml. with the addition of distilled water and

Difco agar was added to give a 2% medium. Kanamycin, an

antibiotic, was added at first (1:10,000) to reduce bacteri-

al contamination. However, this later was found to be


The growth medium was a dung oatmeal agar, prepared by

boiling 10 gm. of oatmeal in 500 ml. of distilled water for

five minutes. This preparation was filtered through several

layers of cheesecloth and several changes of filter paper.

A vacuum pump was again used to accelerate the process

because of the stickiness of the oatmeal which clogged the

filter paper and reduced the flow of the supernatant. The

supernatant was mixed with 500 ml. of dung media to produce

a 2% agar. Plates and slants were stored in a refrigerator

without apparent loss of nutrient value.


Several stain techniques were used with varying

success. The problems encountered with staining were ina-

bility to obtain penetration of the ascus and stain the

chromatin material, and the overstaining of the ascus

cytoplasm to partially obscure the chromatin.

A modification of the technique used by Tu, Roberts and

Kimbrough (1969) to stain Rhizoctonia worked well for stain-

ing hyphal nuclei of the organisms under investigation.

Material to be stained was fixed in Carnoy's solution for

18-24 hours. This was followed by a washing in 50% acetic

acid, hydrolysis in IN HC1 at 65 C for 20-30 minutes and

rinsing in acetic acid. The procedure used was to stain

with 2% aceto-orcein in 50% acetic acid for 6-8 hours.

Aceto-orcein and aceto-carmine were not successful in

staining the ascal nuclei. Other stains employed included:

lacto-phenol cotton blue, pentacyl blue-black, Giemsa stain

(Furtado, 1970), basic and acid fuchsin and methyl blue in

Hoyer's solution.

The stains giving the best results were 2% methyl blue

in Hoyer's solution and 1% pentacyl blue-black in water.

With both preparations the nucleolus stained intensely and

after several minutes the nuclear envelope also began to

stain. There was no staining of chromatiz material. Lactc-

phenol cotton blue stained the nucleolus but to a lesser

degree and did not stain the halo around the nucleolus. The

aceto-orcein and aceto-carmine stains could be enhanced by

soaking blocks of material in FeC3 solution.

Fixation overnight with Carnoy's solution was also

tried. The longer the fixation time, the better the results.

The specimen was hydrated in an alcohol series (95-70-50-

30-10-distilled water). Hydrolysis was in 1N HC1 for 70

minutes at 60 C followed by a rinse in distilled water for

10 minutes. A mordant was applied containing 4% iron alum

for 45 minutes at 60 C, followed by a brief rinse in

distilled water. An apothecium was then crushed and pinched

apart on a slide and a drop of aceto-carmine was applied.

A coverslip was immediately placed over the apothecium and

pressure was applied to further spread the material. The

intensity of the stain increased with time. Material thus

fixed produced good results. Hot lacto-phenol cotton blue

stained the apiculi of Thecotheus cinereus.


Most staining was used in conjunction with squash

mounts. Other techniques also used were sectioning with the

cryostat and plastic embedding.

Feder and O'Brien (1968) had much success with plastic

embedding using glycol methacrylate with certain higher

plant material. This plastic was obtained from Folys.ience.

The plastic kit from this supplier included a suggested

embedding schedule. Blocks of agar containing mature

apothecia were fixed overnight with 3% glutaraldehyde in

0.1M veronal buffer at 0 C.

The blocks were transferred without a water rinse to

methyl cellosolve. These were kept in a refrigerator and

changed twice in 2h hours. They were then transferred to

100% ethanol (h-24 hours), to n-propanol (h-2h hours) and

finally to n-butanol. The blocks could then be stored for

four weeks.

A new plastic mixture was tried similar to Moore's

(1963) plastic used in his work with Ascodesmis. He used a

plastic consisting of butyl methacrylate, ethyl methacrylate,

and 1.5% Luperco. Ethyl methacrylate was not available;

therefore, another plastic was substituted, methyl

methacrylate. This is similar to ethyl methacrylate in both

molecular weight and density. It is also very slightly

soluble in water but soluble in alcohol. The proportions

for this plastic were 3 parts butyl methacrylate, 2 parts

methyl methacrylate and 1.5% Luperco. This plastic was

clear and of a good consistency for sectioning. Initial

trials were unsuccessful for embedding due to the addition

of a cross linking monomer, ethylene glycol dimethacrylate.

The monomcr :azc added to prevent selling of ticsucs during

the staining process. When this was discontinued, the

blocks were very acceptable. Polymerization was carried out

in a 50 C oven overnight. The ratio of butyl methacrylate

to methyl methacrylate was later changed to h:2 to obtain a

softer block.

Blocks with apothecia were dehydrated in a graded

alcohol series and embedded in the final plastic mixture

using vacuum infiltration. To accomplish this the blocks

were placed in disposable 50 ml. beakers and 15 ml. of

solution was used in each change. It was found that 15 ml.

of the final embedding plastic gave an acceptable block.

For the final embedding the squares of apothecia would be

oriented to any position desired and then placed in the

embedding oven. The plastic blocks were popped out of the

beaker and small sections were cut out which contained

apothecia. These were then glued to a plastic dowel using

epoxy glue. The glue was hardened in the 50 C oven. After

the glue hardened, the sections were "faced off" using

razor blades. The blocks were then ready for sectioning.

There were problems initially in using the Polyscience

plastic embedding kit. The difficulties centered around:

plastics used, inadequate instructions, and finding a

suitable means of hardening the plastic.

Early embedding problems traced their origin to eirors

in the Polyscience data sheet. Upon a re-examination of the

original work of Leduc and Bernhard (1967), we discovered

that several errors existed in the data sheet. The original

procedure included three embedding mixtures. The initial

embedding solution consisted of 80% glycol methacrylate and

20% distilled water. The next change was 97% glycol

methacrylate and 3% water. The third mixture was inaccurate,

and according to Leduc and Bernhard should have consisted of

7 parts of 97% glycol methacrylate and 3% distilled water

plus 3 parts butyl methacrylate with 2% Luperco added.

Clouding of the plastic resulted from the inability of

Luperco to go into solution. The correct procedure to insure

its solubility in the final plastic mixture is to add the

distilled water to the glycol methacrylate, and separately

add the Luperco to the butyl methacrylate. Both solutions

can then be mixed together. This procedure is necessary as

Luperco is only slightly soluble in water.

It was also found that without a U.V. light source at

0 C tne prepolymer would not harden. However, the plastic

would eventually harden if placed in a 45-50 C oven. If

the plastic was poured too thin, bubbles would distort the

block. The plastic could be sectioned at 2 a with little

damage to the razor blade.


Sectioning was accomplished on a manual rotary

microtome. The need for ultrathin sections was not antici-

pated for light microscopy. A razor blade attachment proved

unsuccessful as blades rapidly became dull. Disposable

blades for the rotary microtome were employed with better

success. Sections of 1 u thickness would be obtained and

continuous sectioning achieved due to the larger cutting

surface. Sectioning was facilitated with a water boat made

from paraffin. As the sections were cut they would float on

tne surface of the water without curling. These sections

could then be picked up with an eyelash or camel hair brush

and placed on a microscope slide. A drop of water on the

slide facilitated the removal of the section from the brush.


Sectioning with the cryostat was done at -20 C.

Several settings for section thickness were used ranging

from 1-5 p. Cryostat sectioning was not as successful as

had been expected. The mounting medium interfered with

staining and sections haa a tendency to fall apart.


Thelebolus stercoreus Tode per Fr. occurs on most

types of dung. It was first isolated from rabbit dung.

The apothecia appear white on the dung and are immersed to

semi-immersed. The spores germinated readily on dung

oatmeal agar.

Vegetative Features

Pure colonies grew quite rapidly, expanding to a

diameter of 2.5 cm. in five days. Mature apothecia were

present on the plates within two weeks. Fruiting occurred

synchronously around the margin of gro;;th, producing

consecutive rings of apothecia.

Apothecia occurring in culture were more orange colored

than that observed on dung. Apothecial size was similar to

that occurring naturally, 100-250 p in diameter. Apothecia

remained closed until spore ejection at which time the top

of the ascocarp was ripped open by the expanding ascus.

Single haploid spore cultures were easily obtained by

picking single spores from a mass of spores streaked over

the surface of the agar. Spores would germinate within

24-48 hours. Fruiting occurred within two weeks. The

formation of mature apothecia indicated that T. stercoreus

is homothallic. This supports the findings of Cooke and

Barr (1964).

Sliue cultures were used to study vegetative and

reproductive features. The vegetative mycelium of

T. stercoreus is uninucleate (Fig. 1). Ramlow (1906)

reported and illustrated (Fig. 33, l.c.) uninucleate hyphae

in T. stercoreus. My own observations of the vegetative

mycelium in this species confirm his findings. The vegeta-

tive nuclei stained best with aceto-orcein. Hyphal coils

(Fig. 2) were prevalent on the surface of the agar.

Anastomoses between the hyphae of the coil were frequently

seen, allowing perhaps for the exchange of nuclei. Vegeta-

tive sphaeroid terminal swellings of the hyphae were fre-

quently observed (Figs. 3, 4) similar to those found by

Berthet (1966) in Trichophaea sp. Their function in

Tnelebolus is unknown. The swellings measured 9-10 p in

diameter, were hyaline, and contained many oil droplets.


Ascocarp initiation begins when a hypha gives rise to

a side branch. This branch is very slender at first (1-2 p)

but enlarges in diameter to produce a swollen blunt tip

5-6 p in diameter. The branch may reach a length of 30-40 p,

the tip becoming circinate (Fig. 5). This apical curving

usually ensnares another hypha (Fig. 6). The original hypha

now becomes septate and each cell becomes swollen. These

cells continue to divide to form a mass of cells surrounding

the inner hypha (Fig. 7) and eventually form the sterile

excipulum in-which the cells are of a textura angularis

(Fig. 8).

The sheathing cells continue to divide to form a

rounded mass of cells. Many hyphae radiate from the devel-

oping ascocarp on the surface of the agar (Fig. 9). A

closer inspection of these hyphae (Fig. 10) shows that they

fuse to the outer layer of cells of the ascocarp. Anasto-

moses are frequently seen between these hyphae.

Ascogenous System

As the ascocarp enlarges the centrum becomes very

active as is evident by the concentration of nuclei in this

region (Fig. 11). Sections through the middle of the

ascocarp show an ascogenous system surrounded by the

exciuplar cells. One of the cells of the ascogenous system

contains compatible nuclei (Fig. 12). This cell is always

intercalary. No croziers are formed. Kimbrough (1966a)

has shown the manner of attachment of the ascus of

Trichobolus where there are two small cells at the bottom of

the ascus which would indicate that the privileged cell

would be the subterminal cell of the ascogonium. The same

system is also present in Thelebolus. The privileged cell

begins to enlarge (Fig. 13) and stains in methyl blue in

Hoyer's solution. When the ascocarp is sectioned (Fig. 14),

it appears that the layer of cells adjacent to the ascus

adheres and conforms to its expanding shape. Many cells are

crushed in the process of ascal enlargement. However, this

may be the stage of initiation of paraphyses. As the ascus

enlarges, the peripheral cells continue to add cells to the

outside. The ascus may now occupy one-third of the entire


Cytology of the Ascus

When the ascus is carefully squeezed out from the

ascocarp at this point, the 2N nucleus becomes evident

(Fig. 15). The nucleus is approximately 5 j in diameter

with a large prominent nucleolus.

During the first division of meiosis the nucleolus

disappears. In the diplotene-diakenesis stage there appear

to be six bivalents (Fig. 16). Division I takes place on an

axis perpendicular to the long axis of the ascus (Fig. 17).

Division II is accomplished almost synchronously and

parallel to the long axis of the ascus (Figs. 18, 19).

After division II the four nuclei lie in the center of the

ascus (Fig. 20). Subsequent divisions produce the many

spores typical of Thelebolus (Figs. 21, 22). It has been

estimated that as many as 1000-2500 spores will finally fill

the ascus (Cooke and Barr, 1964; Kimbrough, 1966b).

By this time the ascus has increased in size filling

most of the cleistothecium-like apothecium (Fig. 23), the

ascus approaching the point of spore discharge. It ruptures

the cleistothecium-like apothecium (Fig. 24) and the ascal

tip becomes somewhat extruded due to the thinner wall in

that region. Kimbrough (1966b) attributes this thinner wall

to a discontinuing and abrupt thickening of the next to the

outside wall layer (Fig. 24). The layering of the ascal

walls is very prominent at higher magnifications. The spores

are then released as pressure from below the ascus forces

the spore mass to split or tear the ascal tip. When the

ascus is young and has not fully expanded, paraphyses are

present (Fig. 25). These paraphyses are very slender,

measuring approximately 2 p in diameter. They may be

branched and are usually held in close contact to the ascus.


Thelebolus stercoreus is an excellent organism to work

with. It is easily grown in culture and fruits prolifically.

Cultures for this investigation were grown on dung oatmeal

agar. However, the species has been reported to grow on

potato dextrose agar and to fruit on a modified Leonian's

agar (Cooke and Barr, 1964).

The vegetative mycelium of T. stercoreus presents

many structures that need explanation. It is known that

T. stercoreus possesses the compatible nuclei necessary to

fruit in a single spore culture (Kimbrough, 1966b). If one

looks at tne vegetative mycelium ana its structures in light

of nuclear migration and compatibility, several possibil-

ities appear. One of the most prevalent superficial struc-

tures present were hyphal coils. Anastomoses occurred

between cells of different layers of the coil and could

provide the opportunity needed for exchange of compatible


The swellings found in the vegetative phase of T.

stercoreus appear similar to structures found by Berthet

(196o) for Trichophaea confusa (Cooke) Berthet (Pezizeae).

Berthet refers to these structures as apparent conidia and

has seen them germinate. No germination of these structures

was observed in the present study.

Gordon's (1964) work on the centrum development of

Diporotheca has some interesting implications when applied

to Thelebolus. Gordon found that there was no crozier

system formed in Diporotheca, but that the penultimate cell

of an ascogonial initial divides and surrounds the terminal

cell. These cells then send out trichogynes or receptive

hyphae which fuse with other vegetative hyphae. Gordon

then contends that compatible nuclei migrate through these

receptive hyphae to form the heterokaryotic condition in

the lower part of the centrum, from which the asci ultimate-

ly develop.

In this study of Thelebolus one of the striking

features of the developing ascocarp was the radiating of

the hyphae from the peripheral cells. It was often apparent

that these radiating hyphae anastomosed. However, their

role as receptive hyphae is very doubtful as the compatible

nuclei are already paired in the ascogenous system before

the hyphae begin to radiate. Rather than radiating, they

appear to add new hyphal elements to the developing excipulum.

Gordon also mentioned that the developing ascus may

fuse with the inner cells of the excipulum and incorporate

their material into the ascus. The formation of the ascus

of Thelebolus would make a good electron microscope study

to determine if the young ascus crushes or envelops the

excipular cells and paraphyses.

A transfer of compatible nuclei may also occur when a

hypha branches from the vegetative mycelium and curves and

coils itself around another hypha. The curved hypha

becomes septate and ensheaths the second hypha with cells.

Compatible nuclei may pass into the ascogonium (inner hypha)

by fusion with these peripheral cells. However, this stage

may be analogous to the stage in Trichobolus (Kimbrough,

1966a) when hyphae from the parent hypha ensheath the

ascogonium without fusion occurring. In Thelebolus, as in

Trichobolus, the compatible nuclei appear to be present in

the parent hypha and to flow into the ascogonium prior to

septation of the latter. No ascogenous hyphae or croziers

are formed. However, the ascogenous system could be clas-

sified as acrorhynque in Chadefaud's (1943) system.

The development of ascogonia in T. stercoreus is

similar to that shown by Schweizer (1923) for Ascobolus

citrinus (=Ascobolus michaudii Boud., Van Brummelen, 1967),

The ascogonium is a privileged cell that has developed from

an evagination of the parent hypha.

The exact phylogenetic position of Thelebolus has long

been a controversy. Thelebolus was first erected as a genus

by Tode (1790) and was originally placed in the

Gasteromycetes (Order Angiogastres). Fuckel (1870) was the

first to consider Thelebolus as an Ascomycete, placing it

in the Perisporiacei of the Pyrenomycetes. Saccardo (1888)

transferred it to the Nidulariaceae. Earlier Zukal (1886),

having studied the development of T. stercoreus, placed it

close to Podosphaera in the Erysiphaceae.

Boudier (1869) recognized multispored taxa in the

Ascobolii spurii, but did not consider Thelebolus. Heimerl

(1889) expanded Boudier's concept, however, to include

Thelebolus. He was the first mycologist to consider

Thelebolus a discomycete. Brefeld (1891) studied the entire

life cycle and regarded Thelebolus as a single genus in the

Thelebolaceae of the Carpohemiasci. Saccardo (1892) later

established two infrageneric categories, Eu-Thelebolus and

Tricnobolus, wnich were reaffirmed by Kimbrough (1966b).

Schroeter (1893) considered Thelebolus a member of the

Ascoboleae, family Pezizaceae.

Cooke and Barr (1964) in their comparative study of

Thelebolus used Saccobolus depauperatus (Berk. & Br.) Rehm

and the mature structures of Podosphaera and Sphaerotheca

of the Erysiphaceae. They concluded that Thelebolus

possessed a greater number of characteristics similar to the

Erysiphaceae and recommended that Thelebolus be placed back

into the Erysiphaceae.

In a more recent work (Dennis, 1968) Thelebolus is

treated in the Pseudoascoboleae. Kimibrocgh and Korf (1967)

in their work concluded that the name Pseudoascoboleae was

invalid and proposed a name change to Theleboleae based on

the genus Thelebolus.

The question of the final disposition of Thelebolus seems

to revolve around several important points. Included among

these are the nature of the ascocarp and the morphology of

certain parts of the ascocarp. According to Cooke and

Barr, T. stercoreus possesses a completely enclosed

perithecium and lacks paraphyses. Kimbrough (1966b) rejects

these points by concluding that T. stercoreus is actually

a reduced discomycete and does contain paraphyses. His

discussion (1966a) of the disposition of Trichobolus would

also apply to Thelebolus. Kimbrough points out that if

Thelebolus is considered in light of other multispored

genera, its characteristics are more truly aligned with

Pseudoascoboleae and indicate that it is a reduced


It has been shown in the present study that the develop-

ment of Thelebolus is similar to the development of

Trichobolus and corresponds to Ramlow's (1906) earlier work

with a few exceptions. The ascogenous system is similar to

that of the Erysiphaceae in which a privileged cell becomes

the ascal mother cell. No ascogenous hyphae and croziers

are formed. Therefore, according to Cooke and Barr one

might deduce the same conclusion. However, if as Kimbrough

(1966b) suggests, one compares this development to species

of Ryparobius Boud. and other multispored forms of the

Pseudoascoboleae, one must conclude that Thelebolus is in the

discomycetes. He also points out the difference in ascal

structure between Thelebolus and the Erysiphaceae. Also,

if one considers the nature of growth (parasitic vs.

saprobic), spore morphology, spore release, and possession

of paraphyses, it can be concluded that Thelebolus should

indeed remain in the discomycetes. That the unique ascal

feature of Thelebolus stercoreus is found in several taxa

with variable number of asci per ascocarp and spores per

ascus further reinforces this argument. If Ingold's (1965)

hypothesis is correct that there is a selection toward

larger projectiles in spore release for coprophilous fungi,

then T. stercoreus would represent the end-point of evolu-

tion in this genus.

Kimbrough and Korf (1967) validated the tribe

Tneleboleae based on the criteria that the genera possessed

iodine negative asci, elliptical spores and showed a tendency

to be both eight-spored and multispored. Thelebolus is the

type genus for the family. Most work has concerned the

uniascal, multispored species T. stercoreus. However, other

species do exist that show multiascal tendencies with lesser

spore numbers. If T. stercoreus is the end of the evolu-

tionary line on the dung substrate, its family alliance

should be based on characteristics of the eight-spored

species. The ascal structure for all the species of

Thelebolus is remarkably stable. However, other features

like pigment and shape of paraphyses may differ in the other

forms that are evolutionarily closer to their terrestrial or

lignicolous counterpart. Based on the material presented

here and the work of Kimbrough (1966a) for Trichobolus,

it appears that the family Thelebolaceae must be much more



Lasiobolus ciliatus (Kunze and Schmidt per Pers.) Boud.

is found on a variety of dung in the Gainesville area,

including that of cow, horse and rabbit. Cultures used in

this investigation were isolated from rabbit dung occurring

in the northwest area of Gainesville.

Excellent growth of Lasiobolus was achieved on dung

oatmeal agar. Fruiting occurred within two weeks from the

time of initial isolation. Colony growth was rapid, covering

a diameter of 6 cm. in five days. Fruiting was abundant,

with approximately 9,600 apothecia produced per plate.

Lasiobolus is an excellent organism to work with due to its

rapid growth and fruiting ability.

Vegetative Features

Most of the vegetative features occurred below the

surface of the agar and as the isolate became older, sub-

sequent transfers resulted in the development of the

apothecia below the surface. Lasiobolus ciliatus is an

eight-spored species having an operculum at the top of the

ascus. The spores are inconsistently uniseriate in the

ascus. Single haploid spore cultures developed apothecia,

which proved the species is homothallic.

The spores of Lasiobolus in culture are similar in

size to those occurring in nature: 15-25 x 10-12 P. The

spore germinates at or near one end (Fig. 26). The germ

tube branches almost immediately following its exit from

the spore. Further branching of the tubes occurs after a

period of growth. A cross wall delimits the germ tube from

the spore.

The mycelium is multicellular and each cell is

uninucleate (Fig. 27). Another aspect of the vegetative

mycelium is the occurrence of interhyphal growth (Fig. 28).


Ascogonial initiation is peculiar to Lasiobolus.

Activity begins when cells in a hyphal tip swell. Protuber-

ances evaginate from each cell (Fig. 29). These elongate

into a hook so that the protuberance from the terminal cell

grows toward the protuberance from the subterminal cell

(Fig. 30). Nuclei can be seen near the tips of the protu-

berances. Fusion of these protuberances was observed (Fig.

29). As fusion continues the ascogonia take on a highly

coiled appearance (Fig. 31). This process seems to attract

other hyphae which grow toward the coil and entwine them-

selves around it (Fig. 32). Other ensheathing hyphae may

grow from the same parent hyphae (Fig. 33). The ensheathing

hyphae then divide and produce a mass of cells around the

ascogonial initials.

After a period of Growth an expanding ascogonium

appears within the mass of cells (Fig. 34). Additional

ascogonia are produced by other cells of the parent hyphae

developing protuberances and fusing with adjacent cells.

Usually three ascogonial cells can be observed within the

expanding mass of cells (Fig. 35).

As the archicarp develops, other hyphae from the

parent hyphae grow out and fuse with the mass of cells

(Fig. 36). The apothecium has long non-septate setae

(Fig. 37) which arise from the developing apothecium when

the mass of cells is only 140 in diameter (Fig. 38).

They arise from the base of the mass of cells (Fig. 39).

As the apothecium continues to increase in size, more setae

arise near the initial growth (Fig. 40). The setac double

their length rapidly (Fig. 41). At maturity the setae have

the characteristic appearance typical of Lasiobolus. The

non-septate setae root in the ectal excipulum and possess a

bulbous base (Fig. 42). Concurrently numerous hyphae radiate

from the base to form the rhizoidal hyphae that anchor the

apothecium to the substrate. The difference between

rhizoidal hyphae and setae is in the thickness of the cell

walls. At maturity the base of the apothecium possesses

dozens of "rooting" hyphae (Fig. 43).

Plastic embedding was effective in the study of

ascocarp development. Plastic sections showed that the

excipulum encloses the ascogenous system until sporogenesis

is completed (Fig. 44). Lasiobolus develops angiocarpically

or is cleistohymenial, opening in the late mesohymenial

phase (Van Brummelen, 1967). Paraphyses outgrow the

developing asci and converge to an area at the top of the

ascocarp; at this point the ascocarp will eventually sepa-

rate to expose the asci (Fig. 45). Stages of meiosis in

the asci (Fig. 46) were observed in several sections.

Ascogenous System

The ascogonia within the young apothecium continue to

develop and the multinucleate condition becomes more

evident, especially when the ascogonia are teased from the

mass of surrounding cells (Fig. 47). Ascogenous hyphae

begin to grow out from the ascogonia. The ascogenous hyphae

become highly branched as croziers are formed, terminating

growth (Fig. 48). Numerous observations of croziers were

made (Figs. 48, 49).

Cytology of the Ascus

After the croziers are formed and the nuclei of the

penultimate cell unite, the 2N nucleus migrates into the

expanding ascus. The nucleus is rather large, approximately

6 p in diameter, with a centrally prominent nucleolus (Fig.

50). The 2N nucleus undergoes meiosis. The first division

tares place parallel to the long axis of the ascus (Fig.

51). The nucLeolus disappears during each division, but

reappears again. The second division is asynchronous; one

nucleus divides and the daughter nuclei take an extreme

position in the ascus through a division parallel to the

long axis of the ascus. iuclei now occupy the top and

bottom positions in the ascus.

The second nucleus now divides in a plane more or less

perpendicular to the long axis. At this stage there is a

pause in division and the four nucleoli reappear (Fig. 52).

Division begins again asynchronously and occurs first in

tne daughter nuclei in the upper ena of the ascus (Fig. 53).

Finally all nuclei divide and the resultant haploid nuclei

move to the positions along the length of the ascus (Fig.

54). The young ascus is usually thicker above and narrower

below, so that the majority of the nuclei reside in the

upper portion of the ascus. Sometimes inconsistencies occur

in spore cleavage and two nuclei are incorporated into one

spore (Fig. 55).

Tne immature spore wall is thick, but becomes thinner

with the age of the spore. The wall prevents the entrance

of stain into the spore, ana it is, therefore, necessary to

break the exospore to stain the single nucleus (Fig. 56).


Lasiobolus ciliatus is a useful organism in several

aspects: cultural, ontogenetical and cytological. The

organism is easily cultured and fruits abundantly in

younger cultures. As the isolate grew older, subsequent

transfers to new media fruited less. It is not known

whether this phenomenon is a result of some intrinsic

factor in the fungus or perhaps reflects a nutrient defi-

ciency of dung oatmeal agar. Studies of coprophilous fungi

would benefit by the establishment of a defined growth


Plastic sections were most useful in the study of

ascocarp development. Plastic embedding retains the shape

of the ascocarp and its vegetative features much better

than free hand or cryostat sections. It was desirous that

fixation and embedding of these fungi for light microscopy

could be extended to electron microscopy. Lasiobolus

appears to be more suitable to plastic embedding than

Thelebolus, because of the better penetration of the plastic

into the ascus.

Lasiobolus ciliatus possesses a uninucleate mycelium

and has a unique ascogonial ontogeny. In the genus

Thelebolus, compatible nuclei are already in the evagina-

tion of the parent hypha. However, in Lasiobolus a mecha-

nism is necessary in order for compatible nuclei to pair.

Several cells of the parent hypha swell and protuberances

are formed which grow out from each cell and fuse with the

adjacent cell. Proliferation of the protuberances and the

fusion of additional vegetative hyphae soon ensheath the

developing ascogonia. Kimbrough (personal communication)

has also found this same type of development in a recently

discovered species of Lasiobolus: Lasiobolus monascus

Kimbr. (1972b) (Fig. 99).

The ascogonial development of L. ciliatus is similar

to the type shown by Blackman and Fraser (1906), and

Gwynne-Vaughan and Williamson (1930) for Humaria granulata

(Fig. 96) which is now classified as Coprobia granulata

(Bull. ex Fr.) Boud. The development of the ascogonia in

C. granulata is characterized by the development of a

stalked ascogonium which is multinucleate. The ascogonium

is seen being enveloped by hyphae which originate from sub-

terminal cells. A similar sheathing of the ascogonia occurs

in L. ciliatus; however, in the latter species, several

ascogonial cells develop rather than one.

Fraser (1907) has shown a stalked ascogonial ontogeny

in Lachnea stercorea Pers. (=Cheilymenia stercorea Pers.)

(Fig. 97). The terminal cell becomes the ascogonium and

a wide trichogyne is formed. Fraser mentions an antheridium

which had the appearance of a sac filled with nuclei.

However, its functional role is questioned as ascogenous

hyphae are formed before fusion of the trichogyne with the


A similar development was observed by Brown (1911) in

Lachnea scutellata (=Scutellinia scutellata) (Fig. 98).

The ascogonium was produced on a 7-9 celled stalk. However,

no trichogyne or antheridium was observed.

Fraser (1913) studied Lachnea creta (=Tricharia creta

(Cke) Eckblad) and illustrated an ontogeny similar to that

shown by Milam (1971) for Iodophanus granulipolaris. The

ascogonium is a series of bulbous cells with a long

trichogyne produced terminally. No fusion with an anther-

idium was observed. This type of development with a long

trichogyne is found in Anthracobia melalzma by Cwynne-

Vaughan (1937) (as Lachnea melaloma) and Rosinski (1956).

It is also typical of many species of Ascobolus.

Recently, Durand (1970) studied the development of a

species of Lasiobolus identified as Lasiobolus equinus

(Mull.) Karst., which may be synonymous with L. ciliatus.

The development of the ascogonia is similar to that observed

in the present investigation. However, the initial stages

as described by Durand are similar to Ascodesmis nigricans

(Gaumann and Dodge, 1928). It is most difficult to inter-

pret the beginning stages of ascogonial initiation, but

Durand's drawings can also be interpreted as showing the

same type of development as that found in the current

investigation. Durand could not determine definitely the

species of the fungus he used. Therefore, two conclusions

can be drawn from his work. If the species is the same as

L. ciliatus, the development corresponds closely. A more

important aspect, however, is that if his fungus represents

another species of Lasiobolus, then this would indicate

that the development of the ascogonia is consistent in at

least three species of the genus.

Recently, related genera have been studied developmen-

tally. Milam (1971) studied Iodophanus (Pezizaceae) and

has shown a multinucleate ascogonial coil which is

ensheathed by hyphae from the parent hypha. This development

is similar to Ascobolus carbonarius (Dodge, 1912) and has

some similarities to the development of C. granulata.

Eckblad (1968) states that Coprobia and lodophanus have close

affinities and includes both in his family Pyronemaceae.

Kish (1971) followed the development of Coprotus

lacteus (Ck. & Phill.) Kimbr., a species with trichogynous

ascogonia and described the ascogenous system as similar to

that of Pyronema. He proposed transferring Coprotus to the


Berthet (1964a) in his summary of the ascogenous

systems of the discomycetes lists Lasiobolus ciliatus as

possessing the aporhynque type of ascogenous hyphae. This

is in contradiction to the results presented in this study.

Lasiobolus ciliatus has true croziers and the ascogenous

hyphae are of the pleurorhynque type.

Lasiobolus differs slightly from Thelebolus stercoreus

in ascocarp development. Lasiobolus, a multiascal species,

opens in the late mesohymenial phase as spores mature.

Thelebolus, the uniascal form, opens in the telohymenial

phase; during spore liberation. L. ciliatus also differs

developmentally from T. stercoreus by the presence of

croziers. Lasiobolus ciliatus also has an operculum at the

tip of the ascus, and several ascogonial cells per


Species of Lasiobolus were classified as members of the

genus Ascophanus by Boudier (1869) when he split the genera

of the Ascobolaceae into the Ascobolei Genuini and Ascobolei

Spurii. Included in the latter hyaline-spored group were:

Ascophanus with eight-spored asci, Thecotheus and

Ryparobius with multispored asci.

Saccardo (188h) separated Lasiobolus from Ascophanus

by virtue of its setose apothecia. Kimbrough and Korf (1967)

further delimited Lasiobolus by emphasizing the non-septate

nature of the setae. This was done to differentiate it from

Trichobolus, a multispored, uniascal form with septate setae.

The nature of the ascus is also stressed, Lasiobolus

possessing cylindric, operculate asci, while Trichobolus

possesses an ovate irregularly dehiscing ascus. Kimbrough

(1972a) has shown that basic ascal wall structure differs

also in these taxa even though in both genera there is

tremendous variation in the size of the ascus and number

of spores.

Although the taxonomy of the genus Lasiobolus has

been relatively free of controversy, the opposite is true

of the species under investigation. The controversy

centers around four species: L. papillatus (Pers. per Pers.)

Sacc., L. equinus (MUll. per Pers.) Karst., L. pilosus Fr.,

and L. ciliatus (Schmidt ex Fr.) Boud. All have been placed,

at one time or another, in synonymy under each other. No

comparative study has determined if they are the same

fungus. However, a search of the literature reveals the

following facts.

The name Lasiobolus papillatus (Pers. per Pers.) Sacc.

is used by Seaver (1928) who states in his book that L.

papillatus is the type for the genus. However, the holotype

no longer exists. In the description of the fungus by

Boudier (1869) it was noted that his specimen had septate

hairs. His concept of L. papillatus must, therefore, be

rejected, in keeping with the current description of

Lasiobolus, which has non-septate hairs. L. papillatus sensu

Boudier may well represent an eight-spored Trichobolus.

The name Lasiobolus equinus (MUll. per Pers.) Karst.

is used by Kimbrough and Korf (1967) and Seaver (1928).

Seaver places L. ciliatus in synonymy under L. equinus.

The name L. equinus was not validated by Fries but by

Sowerby (1821) in Gray's Natural Arrangement of British

Plants as Peziza equina. This name would not have prior-

ity over either of the two remaining names.

The name Lasiobolus pilosus Fr. was validated by Fries

(Systema Mycologicum volume 2 on page 164). This name has

been used by Van Brummelen (1967) and Eckblad (1968).

Eckblad correctly places L. equinus in synonymy under

L. pilosus because of priority. He makes no mention of

L. ciliatus. Van Brummelen states that L. pilosus is a

highly variable species.

The name Lasiobolus ciliatus (Schmidt ex Fr.) Boud.

has been used by Dennis (1968) and Rifai (1968). Van

Brummelen (1967) discussed the validity of the names;

however, because he had not seen L. ciliatus, he did not

include it in synonymy unaer L. pilosus. Rifai in his

discussion of the species states that Persoon (1822)

revalidated the name as Ascobolus ciliatus before Fries

(1822) validated Ascobolus pilosus. The point being; what

is the correct starting point for nomenclature? Is it the

date January 1, 1821 or is it names validated by Fries?

If one assumes that the date is the starting point,

Persoon's name is valid; however, if it is Fries' publica-

tion, then L. ciliatus would be rejected.

One point overlooked is that Fries also validated

Ascobolus (Lasiobolus) ciliatus in his work in 1822 (also

in volume 2, page 164). Ascobolus ciliatus appears before

A. pilosus and if both are the same fungus, then the name

Lasiobolus ciliatus (Schmidt ex Fr.) Pers. has priority.

The differences that exist between Thelebolus and

Lasiobolus make it necessary to remove Lasiobolus from the

Thelebolaceae. Although Lasiobolus shows the same evolu-

tionary trends as does Thelebolus on dung (Kimbrough, 1972a)

with uniascal and nultispored forms, its development and

ascal structure take priority. The ascogonial development

of Lasiobolus ciliatus and L. monascus may give clues to

their taxonomic disposition. Lasiobolus may represent an

evolutionary excursion onto dung from terrestrial species

similar to Scutellinia, Cheilymenia, Coprobia or some

intermediate genus. It is felt that L. ciliatus would be

best placed in the Aleuriaceae (Arpin, 1968). Arpin's

criterion for inclusion into this family was the possession

of both gamma and beta carotenoid pigments. Lasiobolus has

not been shown to possess carotenoid pigments; however, as

Nannfeldt (1972) has suggested, can we be sure that the


species is really devoid of carotenoids? Is it not possible

to assume that these are present in the shape of colorless

precursors or colorless derivatives?

Lasiobolus ciliatus could also be placed in Rifai's

family Humariaceae tribe Ciliarieae along with Scutellinia,

Cheilymenia and Coprobia according to ontogeny. Anthracobia

of the Aleurieae and Tricharia of the Lachneae have an

ontogeny similar to lodophanus.


Thecotheus cinereus (Cr. & Cr.) Chenantais

Vegetative Features

Cultures of T. cinereus were received from Dr. J. W.

Paden, who had isolated the fungus from dung in British

Columbia. The cultures were not derived from single spores

and after a month of growth in deep dish cultures, several

fruit bodies were discovered. The early stages of fruiting

were sectioned and they consisted of a mat of bulbous cells

(Fig. 57). These patches of cells were designated as

"primordial humps" as they may function as part of an

ascogonial-antheridial apparatus.

The mycelium is mostly multinucleate, although many

individual cells may be uninucleate. Interhyphal growth

occurred in culture. The first stage in fruiting is an

intertwining of the vegetative mycelium. Coiling continues

as a mass of intertwining hyphae is produced. This coiling

takes place underneath the primordial humps.


Within this mass certain cells begin to swell and form

ascogonial cells (Fig. 58). Compatible nuclei were assumed

to enter the ascus mother cells before septation. A branch-

ing ascogenous system then develops from the ascogonia.

Thecotheus may have several ascogonial cells per apothecium.

Ascogenous System

As the ascogenous system is developing, the cell

layers surrounding the centrum continue to proliferate form-

ing a well defined medullary and ectal excipulum (Fig. 59).

The ectal excipulum is composed of bulbous cells (Fig. 60).

These bulbous cells appear to be the same as those of the

primordial humps. The emerging ascogenous system pushes the

cells upward and to the side where they form the excipulum.

These bulbous cells are uninucleate (Fig. 61); however,

the hyphae that join the cells to the base of the apothecium

are multinucleate (Fig. 62).

The centrum, meanwhile, becomes densely nucleated as

the branching ascogenous system pushes upward through the

paraphyses (Fig. 63). Finally, after a period of longi-

tudinal growth, croziers are formed (Fig. 64), and the

penultimate cell enlarges forming the ascus. Compatible

nuclei fuse and a large diploid nucleus (diameter 10-11 p)

is formed (Fig. 65). The nuclear envelope is observable as

a halo surrounding the densely stained nucleolus.

Meiosis and ascosporogenesis were not observed due to

the scarcity of material. Mature ascospores were present,

and it was observed that the wall is rather thick and smooth

at first (Fig. 66), and apiculi develop at the ends of the

spores (Fig. 67). Also the spores may become ornamented

(Fig. od). Tne apiculi stain best with hot lacto-phenol

cotton blue and this improves the longer the specimen is in

the stain. The spores of T. cinereus are uninucleate and

are irregularly uniseriate in the ascus (Fig. 69).

Thecotheus pelletieri (Cr. & Cr.) Boud.

Vegetative Features

A single haploid spore culture of T. pelletieri was

obtained by methods previously described. Actively growing

cultures were maintained for a month or more in deep dish

petri plates. The culture formed primordial humps. Bulbous

cells similar to those found in T. cinereus were present

(Fig. 70); however, apothecia failed to develop.

Interhyphal growth was evident in cultures of

T. pelletieri (Fig. 72). Also present were vegetative

mycelial loops (Fig. 71). The mycelium is septate,

approximately 3-3.5 P in diameter and is mostly multi-

nucleate (Fig. 71). Nuclei divided in the hyphae in the

loop and also in the hyphae entering the loop. The hyphae

radiating from the loop produced small side branches (Fig.

73). These small branches were similar to conidiophore

initials. Once the loops were formed, the main hypha from

the loop gave rise to several radiating hyphae. These

hyphae radiated rapidly and branched. Some of the branches

appeared to fuse with other hyphae (Fig. 74). The function

of the loops is unknown.

Fresh material from dung showed that the diploid

nucleus of T. pelletieri is relatively large (10 x 11 u),

and occupies the central portion of the ascus (Fig. 75).

The nucleolus is also large (5-6 p), and stains deeply with

methyl blue in Hoyer's solution. The nucleus is evident

only as an envelope surrounding the nucleolus. The ascus

enlarges to almost its full size while containing the

diploid nucleus.

Due to the lack of fruiting in culture, cytological

stages of meiosis and ascosporogenesis could not be obtained.

Asci from dung specimens were seen that contained several

nuclei (Fig. 76), but no division stages were observed.

After the last division a spore wall is formed around each

nucleus. The wall is initially very thick (Fig. 77). The

spores are uninucleate (Fig. 78). The ascus is broadly

clavate and the spores are ejected in a gelatinous mass

(Fig. 79). The spores germinate from one end after swelling

to approximately twice their normal size (Fig. 80). The

ascocarp develops angiocarpically; however, the phase in

which the hymenium is exposed could not be determined.

Imperfect Stage

Both T. pelletieri and T. cinereus produce an imperfect

stage in culture, conidial production being more abundant

in T. pelletieri. A few weeks after transferring

T. pelletieri to dung oatmeal agar, conidia were observed.

A similar imperfect stage was also discovered in cultures

and slants of T. cinereus.

The conidia of T. pelletieri are hyaline and borne on

short side branches, 15-22 p long (Figs. 85-95). The

hyaline conidiophores measure pu wide at their base and

taper to a width of 2 p at their tip. The conidiophores

begin as small evaginations on a hypha (Fig. 81). The small

protuberance elongates and a side branch may bud out from

it (Fig. 82) later developing a hooked appendage (Fig. 83).

In many cases the conidiophore develops this hooked append-

age from its base. The function of the hook is unknown.

The mycelium is superficial.

The conidia are 3-4 x 6.5-7 p. They appear to be

uninucleate (Fig. 90). Division of a nucleus takes place

near the tip of the conidiophore (Fig. 84), and the upper

nucleus migrates into the conidium. The primary conidium

seems to be blown out from the tip of the conidiophore

giving the conidium an abovate appearance (Figs. 85-87). A

cross wall delimits the conidium from the conidiophore

(Fig. 88). The tip of the conidiophore appears to be

"meristematic" and continues to increase in length just to

the side of the primary conidium (Fig. 89). A secondary

conidium is then blown out (Figs. 90-93), and becomes

delimited (Fig. 94). This process continues so that finally

as many as ten conidia are produced per conidiophore (Fig.


During the period of coniaial formation, the

conidiophore increases in length. The distance between

succeeding conidia, however, is very short and gives the

mature conidiophore a swollen appearance.


Although a thorough investigation of the two species

of Thecotheus was not possible due to their slow and scanty

growth in culture, several contributions to our understand-

ing of their ontogeny can be made. Overton (1906) was

unable to germinate the spores of T. pelletieri and relied

on an abundant supply of natural material for his research.

He noted that T. pelletieri was a late fruiting organism in

regard to its succession on dung. His source of material

was old and partly dried-up cultures of horse dung. In the

present investigation the dung specimen was almost four

weeks old, and this may be one reason that this organism is

not encountered more frequently.

Thecotheus pelletieri was obtained in a single spore

culture during this study. Although several attempts were

made to induce apothecia to form, none were successful. It

is possible that T. pelletieri is heterothallic, the absence

of compatible nuclei making fruiting impossible.

Thecotheus cinereus did fruit sparsely during the

course of this study. However, this was not a single spore

culture. Dr. Paden simply poured agar over the dung and

isolated the fungus as it grew up through the agar, but

could not obtain fruiting in culture.

Tne primordial humps may represent the end of the

vegetative phase of the fungus, fruiting being delayed only

until karyogamy of compatible nuclei. Good evidence is

presented that these primordial humps form a part of the

ectal excipulum of the Thecotheus apothecium. Kimbrough

(1969) describes and illustrates the bulbous cyanophilous

cells of the excipulum in Thecotheus. In his developmental

study, all species of Thecotheus show angiocarpic develop-

ment on dung. This supports the assumption that the primor-

dial humps are the early developmental stage of the

apothecium and excipulum of Thecotheus, and that the emerg-

ing ascogenous system pushes up through these humps.

Bulbous cells that function in excipular formation may

be found in other genera. Squash mounts of apothecia of

other genera may obliterate or alter their presence. This

may have occurred in Ascobolus albidus (Van Brummelen, 1967,

Plate 5, Fig. F-l), a species that is shown to possess

paraphyses with subglobular elements.

The bulbous cells of the primordial humps are also very

similar to the microconidia found in Ascobolus carbonarius

(Dodge, 1912). In A. carbonarius a conidium fuses with the

trichogyne ana provides the ascogonium with a compatible

male nucleus. The role of the bulbous cells in Thecotheus,

however, was not determined.

The presence of primordial humps in both species of

Tnecotheus suggests a close relationship between the two.

It may also indicate a similar ascogonial ontogeny for both

species. However, this must be confirmed by further studies.

There appears to be little difference between the develop-

ment of the two species, except for the additional mitoses

in order to produce 32 spores in T. pelletieri.

The mycelial loops found on the surface of the agar may

act as a mechanism that initiates the conidial system since

branches from the loop appear similar to the conidiophore


The imperfect stages not only possess a similar

morphology but also a similar ontogeny. These similarities

confirm a close relationship between the perfect stages of

the eight-or 32-spored species. However, this may not be

as factual as it appears because other perfect stages as

those in Nectria may have several different imperfect stages.

Also, Kimbrough and Korf (1967), in listing characteristics

of importance that should be considered in distinguishing

genera of the Theleboleae, place the use of imperfect stages

on a low priority. However, as more imperfect stages are

induced or discovered this feature may be of great use in

establishing natural relationships.

The type of coniaial ontogeny found is very similar to

Hughes' Section II (1953) which he labels "terminis spore."

The formation of the initial conidium itself is a blasto-

conidial type. More recently Kendrick and Cole (1968)

have described this type of development as a sympodial

conidium. Barron (1968) in his book on soil hyphomycetes

"would classify this specimen in his section sympodulospore.

Tne imperfect stage seems to have affinities with Sporothrix

(Hekten and Perkins) Barron and Rhinotrichella Arnaud. In

Sporotnrix the conidia are borne on denticles in an acropetal

succession. They have no septation and are truncate at the

attachment to the conidiophore. The head of the conidio-

phore, however, appears broader than the imperfect stage of


Oberwinkler, Casagrande and MUller (1967) have found

an imperfect stage of Ascocorticium anomalum (Ell. & Harkn.)

Earle which is morphologically similar to that of Thecotheus.

The conidiophore has a hook which closely resembles the hook

in the imperfect stage of Thecotheus. They describe the

conidial ontogeny as sympodial with the conidiophore

elongating to form a zig-zag appearance. The base of the

conidiophore is brown with the conidiogenous portion hyaline.

The conidia are ellipsoid to round (1.5-2.5 u). In discus-

sing the classification of the imperfect stage, Oberwinkler

et al. say that it resembles Tubaki's (1958) Chloriaium

minutum, but that since Hughes (1958) places C. minutum

in synonymy under Bisporomyces, it cannot be placed there.

Instead, they suggest a close relationship with

Rhinotrichella Arnaud (1953). However, they would not name

the species until more work has been done on the imperfect

-stage. Likewise, until more work is accomplished with this

imperfect stage of T. pelletieri, a genus cannot be assigned.

Several other researchers have discovered imperfect

stages in allied families. Greene (1931), working with the

Ascobolaceae, observed oidia in cultures of Ascobolus. The

oidia were formed by the separation of rectangular cells of

the aerial mycelium. These oidia were abundant in cultures

that failed to produce apothecia. This was also observed in

Thecotheus as conidial production was greater in T.

pelletieri which did not fruit. The oidia of Ascobolus

germinated but produced no fertile apothecia.

Paden (1967) found a conidial stage of Peziza

brunneoatra Desm. Conidia of P. brunneoatra are similar to

the bulbous cells found in the primordial humps of Thecotheus

(Figs. 1, 2). The bulbous cells measured 7-9 x 13-16 u,

approximately the same size as the conidial stage of P.

brunneoatra. Germination of these bulbous cells was not

observed and their function seems limited to excipular


Tubaki (1950) described an Oedocephalum imperfect

stage for lodophanus testaceus (Moug. in Fr.) Korf. This

is similar to the imperfect stage of Thecotheus except for

a more inflated apical apex of the conidiophore. An

Oedocephalum conidial apparatus was reported for Pyronema

omphalodes (Bull.) Fuckel (Hughes, 1953). Oedocephalum is

placed in Hughes' Section Ib.

The occurrence of a sympodial conidial type in

Thecotheus is significant. A review of the literature deal-

ing with imperfect stages (Berthet, 1964b; Eckblad, 1968),

indicates that the occurrence of the sympodial conidial

type is rare.

Most of the imperfect stages listed occur in the form

genus Oedocephalum. This genus is included in Section Ib of

Hughes' (1953) classification, characterized by blastoconidia.

This imperfect stage is found in three operculate families:

Pezizaceae, Pyronemaceae and Aleuriaceae.

Oidia are found frequently. Hughes placed in Section

VII those fungi that produce oidia. Oidia are now desig-

nated by other workers (Barron, 1968; Tubaki, 1958) as

arthoconidia. Oidia are found in three operculate families:

Ascobolaceae, Pezizaceae and Pyronemaceae.

No imperfect stage has been found in either the

Otideaceae or the Rhizinaceae.

Sympodial conidia have been found in two families:

Morchellaceae and Sarcoscyphaceae. These conidia are found

in Section II of Hughes.

There are thirty-two species of operculate discomycetes

known to possess an imperfect stage, of these twenty-six

possess either an Oedocephalum or oidial conidia. Two

-genera have a Botrytis imperfect stage (Section Ib) and

another possesses an Ostracoderma imperfect stage (Section

Ib). Therefore, only three genera possess a sympodial

conidia imperfect stage.

In a more recent work, Paden (1972) has re-evaluated

conidial formation of the imperfect state of the Pezizales.

Four families, Sarcoscyphaceae, Sarcosomataceae, Aleuriaceae

and the Morchellaceae possess sympoduloconidia. Cookina

sulcipes, C. tricholoma, Pithya cupressina and Sarcoscypha

coccinea (Sarcoscyphaceae) have sympoduloconidia that could

not be placed into a known genus. Desmazierella acicola

(Sarcosomataceae) has a Verticicladium imperfect stage and

Urnula craterium, Plectania nannfeldtii, and Sarcosoma

latahensis have Conoplea imperfect stages. Two species of

Geopyxis (Aleuriaceae) have Nodulisporium imperfect stages

and Caloscypha fulgens has a sympoduloconidial stage that

could not be placed into a known genus. Morchella

(Morchellaceae) has a Costantinella imperfect stage.

The Pezizaceae are reported to possess imperfect stages

representing three different genera. Peziza petersii and

Iodophanus are associated with an Oedocephalum stage, four

species are associated with an Ostracoderma stage and three

species possess aleurioconidia. Botrytis-like conidia are

found in the Otideaceae.

The Ascobolaceae possess oidia and a Papulaspora stage.

No conidia are reported for the Thelebolaceae.

Other imperfect stages have been found in inoperculate

families including, Orbiliaceae, Hyaloscyphaceae,

Helotiaceae, Geoglossaceae and Sclerotiniaceae.

Overton's (1906) observation of ascogonia was confirmed.

The ascogonial cells of T. cinereus observed were like those

found in Ascobolus citrinus (Schweizer, 1923) as Overton

illustrated for T. pelletieri. Ascus formation is initiated

by crozier formation.

Thecotheus was first described in the Ascobolaceae by

Boudier (1869) as a hyaline, multispored species of the

Ascobolei Spurii. It was separated from Ryparobius, the

other multispored form, by its larger thick walled spores,

and its larger fruiting body. Chenantais (1918) later

transferred the eight-spored Ascobolus cinereus Cr. & Cr. to


Kimbrough and Korf (19o7) removed Thecotheus and

lodophanus from the Tnelebolaceae (Pseudoascoboleae) and

placed both in the tribe Pezizeae of the Pezizaceae. Both

genera were considered similar due to the diffuse amyloid

reaction of their asci and their callose-pectic marking on

the spores. Eckblad (1968) retained Thecotheus in the

Thelebolaceae because of its simpler excipular structure,

its multispored tendency, and its protruding asci. He

placed lodophanus in the more primitive family Pyronemaceae.

Eckblad based this decision on the presence of carotenoid

paraphyses and simpler excipular structure. Kimbrough (1969)

further typified the entire genus with a morphological and

cytochemical study of four species of Thecotheus.

Milam (1971) studied lodophanus carneus (Pers. ex Fr.)

Korf both developmentally and structurally. Results from

his research and from the present study point to some of

the differences between the two genera. Iodophanus has

coenocytic excipular cells and an Oedocephalum imperfect

stage. Thecotheus has a sympodial conidial type and uni-

nucleate excipular cells. Milam also showed that the

ontogeny of I. granulipolaris consisted of a multicellular

archicarp with a long trichogyne. This type of development

has also been reported by Fraser (1913) for Lachnea creta

(=Anthracobia sp). Anthracobia is now placed in the

Aleuriaceae by Arpin (1968).

Pfister (1972) has recently described several members

of the genus Thecotheus that occur on wood. A correlation

of their ontogeny, cytology and their possible imperfect

stages would be most significant. The finding of these

terrestrial species reinforces the theory that the

coprophilous species represent an evolutionary and ecological

excursion from some terrestrial species. Many features of

Thecotheus appear similar to members of the Ascobolaceae:

diffusely amyloid asci, thick-walled ascospores, bulbous

excipular cells (at least in Ascobolus albidus), and a

perisporic sheath that encrusts the mature spore. In

Ascobolus a characteristic pigment is obvious in its outer

spore wall. However, Kimbrough (personal communication) has

noted that when the spores of Ascobolus are bleached, there

are cyanophilic markings on the inner walls of the spore

similar to Thecotheus. Another feature in common with the

Ascobolaceae is the similarity of the bulbous cells in the

primordial humps of Thecotheus and the microconidia of

Ascobolus carbonarius.

Korf (1972a) has placed both Iodophanus and Thecotheus

in the lodophaneae of the Ascobolaceae. For the moment this

appear to be the best placement for Thecotheus. However,

as more is learned about the ontogeny and excipular cells

of Thecotheus a relation with the Aleuriaceae may be possible

due to the possession of sympodial conidia. It is recommend-

ed that other mycologists working with genera in the

Aleuriaceae note such features as bulbous cells in the

excipulum and also the presence of imperfect stages which

may show relationships to Thecotheus. Until these studies

are performed, a conclusive family alliance is not possible.


It has long been recognized by many authorities

(Kimbrough, 1966b; Kimbrough and Korf, 1967; Eckblad, 1968;

Rifai, 1968) that the family Thelebolaceae represents a

unique and diversified group of fungi. The purpose of this

research was to compare the ontogeny of representatives of

three genera that have been at one time classified as

members of this group. These genera were chosen because

they represented fungi with varying number of asci per

apothecium and varying number of spores per ascus.

Contrary to reports by Berthet (1964a) and Eckblad

(1968) that the mycelium of the Pezizales is coenocytic,

that of Lasiobolus ciliatus and Thelebolus stercoreus is

uninucleate. Thecotheus pelletieri and T. cinereus are

highly variable. The mycelium of each is mostly coenocytic;

however, the large cyanophilous bulbous cells that comprise

the excipulum of both genera are uninucleate.

The initiation of the ascogonia differs in all three

genera. Thelebolus stercoreus has been shown to have an

ontogeny similar to Trichobolus zukalii. Ascogonia are

initiated by evaginations from the parent hypha which

contains the compatible nuclei.

Lasiobolus ciliatus possesses an ontogeny similar to

that found in Coprobia granulata (Blackman and Fraser, 1906;

Gwynne-Vaughan and Williamson, 1930); a stalked ascogonium.

Essentially, the parent hypha swells and evaginations grow

from these swollen cells. These evaginations fuse, and it

is thought that through these fusions compatible nuclei are

introduced into the same cells. Ensheathing hypha then grow

from tne parent hypha, and also from other vegetative hyphae

and enclose the ascogonia.

Lasiobolus ciliatus has an ontogeny similar to Coprobia.

Pigment analyses may show a relationship between these fungi

and other related genera such as Scutellinia. The finding

of a multispored, uniascal species of Lasiobolus has

completed the evolutionary line within this genus. However,

the major comparison with the genus Lasiobolus to terres-

trial species will have to be determined by L. ciliatus.

This, according to Ingold (1965), would represent more

closely the ancestral type, as the uniascal form would

possess the more highly evolved mechanisms associated with

a coprophilous environment.

The presence of ectal hairs and an ontogeny similar

to Coprobia granulata indicate a close relationship to the

Aleuriaceae (Arpin, 1968). Analysis of carotenoid pigments

will be necessary to determine if L. ciliatus has the same

biochemistry as Coprobia, Scutellinia and Cheilymenia.

These genera possess gamma carotene as their najor pigment.

iifai (19io) also recognizes these genera as being closely

related and includes them in the tribe Ciliareae of the

liunariaceae. A further correlation is that they, along with

L. cilictus, possess stalked ascogonia. Rifai also erected

the tribes Lachneae, Aleurieae and Otideae. It is known that

Tricharia (Lachneae) and Anthracobia (Aleurieae) possess

ascogonia similar to lodoohanus (Milan, 1971) and Ascobolus

(Dodge, 1912). Ascogonial formation in the Otideae has not

been studied. Therefore, the closest relationship appears

to exist between L. ciliatus and the genera of the Ciliareae.

Thecotheus cinereus has an ontogeny that appears similar

to Ascobolus citrinus. This species possesses a group of

inflated ascogonial cells which are soon enclosed by

enveloping hyphae. The occurrence of bulbous cells in

primordial numps raises the possibility that these cells

may play a role in the passage of compatible nuclei by

fusion witn a trichogyne or some similar structure. It has

been shown that these bulbous cells are uninucleate and

ultimately form part of the ectal excipulum.

An imperfect stage has been found in association with

Thecotheus pelletieri and T. cinereus. The imperfect stage

is classified as a sympodial conidium resembling

Rhinotrichella and Sporothrix. Conidial stages have been

found in association with only two other closely related

operculate genera that occur on dung, lodophanus and

Ascobolus. The sympodial imperfect stage of Thecotheus

differs developmentally from the other genera, which are

arthroconidial or blastoconidial. Sympodial conidia have

been found only in the Morchellaceae, Aleuriaceae,

Sarcosomataceae and Sarcosyphaceae of the Pezizales, and

are, therefore, unique for this group. The presence of

imperfect stages may play an important role as more work

is done in this area.

The use of plastic sections has been useful in follow-

ing ascocarp development. Thelebolus stercoreus is

cleistohymenial because the hymenium is not exposed until

spore release. Lasiobolus ciliatus is angiocarpic with the

hymenium opening in the late mesohymenial stage, as the

spores mature. Thecotheus cinereus is also angiocarpic;

however, it could not be determined when the hymenium

becomes exposed.

Much of the recent research by Wicklow and Malloch

(1971), Durand (1970), Kish (1971), Milam (1971) and now

this study points to the great diversity of features found

in the coprophilous discomycetes. Kish has suggested that

the affinities of Coprotus may lie with the Pyronemaceae.

Iodophanus has been placed in the Pezizaceae by Kimbrough

and Korf (1967) and more recently Korf (1972a) has erected

the tribe Iodophaneae to include lodophanus, Thecotheus,

Boudiera and Sphaerosoma in the Ascobolaceae.

The phylogenetic proximity of Thecotheus and

lodophanus is now in doubt due to the vegetative features

of both. Until further studies have been undertaken on the

terrestrial species of Thecotheus, final disposition to a

family cannot be made because of the variability of characters

when compared to established families. For instance, the

ascal structure found in Thecotheus is also found in

Ascobolus immersus (Van Brummelen, 1967). Also, subglobular

elements are found in Ascobolus albidus that are similar to

the bulbous cells of Thecotheus. The terrestrial species of

Thecotheus were identified previously as Peziza. The

imperfect stage of Thecotheus is closer morphologically to

the Aleuriaceae than the Ascobolaceae. Finally, the

ascogonia of Thecotheus are similar to the asccgonia of

Ascobolus. Until more characteristics of other families are

established, such as ontogeny, imperfect stages and excipular

features, Thecotheus seems best placed in the Iodophaneae

of the Ascobolaceae.

Thelebolus stercoreus represents the highest evolution-

ary level in the genus Thelebolus. The uniqueness of its

structures may exclude most other genera from the family

Thelebolaceae. It now appears that the Thelebolaceae may

be restricted to Thelebolus, Trichobolus, and perhaps

Ascozonus and Caccobius. The latter two genera have not

been studied enough to determine family placement.

Kimbrough (personal communication) suggests that the pore

mechanism in the ascus of Caccobius may indicate an excur-

sion onto dung from an inoperculate genus. It may well be

that the coprophilous discomycetes represent excursions onto

the dung habitat by several families that have through

.parallel evolution evolved many similar features. These

features would include an increased number of spores per

ascus, a decreased number of asci per apothecium, and

various modifications in the ascal wall itself. The irony

of Thelebolus stercoreus may be that this organism that was

once considered to be primitive, and even classified in

families outside the Ascomycetes, may well be among the

most advanced fungi in its habitat and morphology.

Figs. 1 25. Tnelebolus stercoreus.

Fig. 1. Nuclear stain of vegetative hypha showing
uninucleate (arrows) condition. X 1250.

Fig. 2. Superficial mycelial loop on agar surface. X 1000.

Figs. 3 4. Bulbous cells of the vegetative mycelium.
X 1000.

Figs. 5 6. Early hyphal coiling. X 1000.

Fig. 7. Proliferation of cells surrounding ascogonial
initial. X 1000.

Fig. 8. Excipular cells of textura angularis. X 1000.

Fig. 9. Developing ascocarp with radiating hyphae. X 160.

Fig. 10. Fusion of hyphae to the developing ascocarp.
Note anastomosis of these hyphae (arrow). X 1000.

Fig. 11. Increased nuclear activity in the expanding
ascocarp. X 1000.

Fig. 12. Plastic section showing ascogonial cells. X 1000.

Fig. 13. Young ascus in the cleistothecium-like apothecium.
X 400.

Fig. 14. Plastic section showing the layer of cells
surrounding the ascus. X 400.

. 7

' t


' ',a..3

1 %


Fig. 15. Nuclear stain showing a large diploid nucleus
(arrow) in the ascus. X 1000.

Fig. 16. Nuclear stain showing Prophase I (arrow). X 1000.

Fig. 17. Ascus containing two nuclei (arrows). X 400.

Fig. 18. The start of Division II. Note the appearance
of a spindle (arrow). X 400.

Fig. 19. Higher magnification of spindle. X 1250.

Fig. 20. Four nuclei (N) present in the ascus. X 1000.

Figs. 21 22. Plastic sections of young asci showing the
prominent nucleoli (NU). X 1000.

Fig. 23. A fully expanded ascus. X 400.

Fig. 24. Ripe ascus pushing through the excipulum. Note
the characteristic ascal tip. X 400.

Fig. 25. Ascus surrounded by closely adhering paraphyses.
X 400.

R O I *ir *

.... ..... ,

. I i

O "

Figs. 26 5U. Lasiobolus ciliatus.

Fig. 26. Germinating ascospores. X 400.

Fig. 27. Nuclear stain of vegetative mycelium showing
uninucleate condition (arrows). X 1000.

Fig. 28. Interhyphal growth in culture. X 1000.

Fig. 29. Developing ascogonium. Note evaginations from
tne parent cells. X 1000.

Fig. 30. Developing ascogonium showing growth of
evaginations. Note nuclei in protuberance.
X 1000.

Fig. 31. Highly coiled ascogonium due to proliferation
of surrounding cells. X 1250.

Fig. 32. Ascogonium surrounded by cells. X 400.

Fig. 33. Ensheathing hypha growing from the parent hypnae.
X 1000.

Fig. 34. Enlarged ascogonium surrounded by a layer of
cells. X 400.

Fig. 35. Three ascogonia in a developing ascocarp. X 1000.

Fig. 36. Fusion of hyphae from the parent hypha to the
ascocarp. X 1250.

ii 9

*. .D^ ::0
.- **

I~i~p o

: m:i

+ l "..

Fig. 37. Ascocarp on dung showing characteristic hairs.
x o0.

Fig. 38. The beginning of the development of a hair
(arrow). X 400.

Figs. 39 41. Elongation of the hair (arrow). X 400.

Fig. 42. Higher magnification of the base of a hair
showing its attachment in the excipulum. X 1250.

Fig. 43. Rhizodial hyphae at the base of the ascocarp.
X 100.

Fig. 44. Plastic section showing the enclosed hymenium.
X 400.

Fig. 45. Plastic section showing paraphyses growing to a
point above the asci where the ascocarp will
eventually rupture. The result of nuclear
divisions can be seen in the asci. X 600.


I ,r r

** ^s- ~* *

Fig. 46. Plastic section showing nuclei (N) present in
an ascus. X 1000.

Fig. 47. Squash mount of an ascocarp with three multi-
nucleate ascogonia. X 1000.

Fig. 48. Ascogenous system showing asci in various stages
of development. A crozier (C) is present. X 400.

Fig. 49. A crozier. X 400.

Fig. 50. An ascus containing the large diploid nucleus.
X 1000.

Fig. 51. Ascus after Division I. X 1250.

Fig. 52. Ascus with four nuclei (N). X 400.

Fig. 53. Ascus with four nuclei. Two (arrows) are
beginning to undergo further division. X 1250.

Fig. 54. Ascus containing eight nuclei (N) near the start
of spore cleavage. X 1000.

Fig. 55. Ascus after spore cleavage. Note that there has
been an inconsistency in cleavage with one spore
receiving two nuclei (arrow). X 1000.

Fig. 56. A uninucleate ascospore. X 1250.


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;~ q


Figs. 57 69. Thecotneus cinereus.

Fig. 57. A "primordial hump" showing the bulbous cells
(arrows). X 200.

Fig. 58. Plastic section showing a series of ascogonia.
X 1000.

Fig. 59. A frozen section using the cryostat showing the
centrum ana excipulum. X 100.

Fig. 60. Uninucleate bulbous cells near the edge of a
primordial hump. X 400.

Fig. 61. Uninucleate bulbous cells forming the excipulum.
X 1250.

Fig. 62. Nuclear stain showing the multinucleate hyphae
beneath the bulbous cells. X 1250.

Fig. 63. Plastic section showing ascogenous hyphae
(arrows) pushing through the paraphyses. X 1000.

-iiji ~~


c |

Fig. 64. Section showing a crozier (C). X 1250.

Fig. 65. Nuclear stain showing an ascus containing a
diploid nucleus (arrow). X 1000.

Fig. 66. A young ascospore with thick, smooth spore valls.
X 1250.

Fig. 67. A young ascospore with apiculi. X 2000.

Fig. 68. Mature ascospore with apiculi and ornamented
walls. X 1250.

Fig. 69. An ascus with irregularly uniseriate ascospores.
x 440.

Figs. 70 95. Thecotheus pelletieri.

Fig. 70. Bulbous cells and filaments of the "primordial
nump". X 1000.

Fig. 71. Nuclear stain of a mycelial loop to show the
multinucleate condition. X 600.

Fig. 72. Interhyphal growth in culture. X 1000.

Fig. 73. Mycelial loop with evaginations from the loop
similar in shape to conidiophore initials (CI).
X 1000.

Fig. 74. Mycelial loop with radiating hyphae. Note the
fusion of hyphae (arrows). X 100.


t~i ri
I Liljli

Fig. 75. Nuclear stain showing the large diploid nucleus
(arrow) in the ascus. X 1000.

Fig. 76. An ascus with four nuclei (N). X 1000.

Fig. 77. An ascus with young thick walled ascospores.
Note the ascal tip. X 1250.

Fig. 78. Uninucleate ascospore. X 1250.

Fig. 79. Ascospores ejected from an ascus showing that
they are released in one large clump. X 440.

Fig. 80. Germinating ascospores. Note large vacuoles in
the spore ana that tne ascospores have swollen
co twice their original size. X 440.

Fig. 81. A conidiophore initial. X 1000.

Fig. 82. The initial has increased in length and a hooked
appendage has begun to form. X 1000.

Fig. 83. The conidiophore and hook have continued to
increase in length. X 1000.

Fig. 84. Nuclear division in the conidiophore tip. X 1000.


~kh /

Fig. 05. The primary conidium is blown out. X 1000.

Fig. 86. The conidium elongates. X 400.

Fig. 87. The conidium continues to elongate. Note hooked
appendage at the base of the conidiophore. X 1000.

Fig. 88. A septum is formed between the conidium and the
conidiophore. X 1000.

Fig. 89. Tne tip of the conidiophore becomes meristematic
and begins to elongate to one side of the
primary conidium. X 1000.

Figs. 90 93. A secondary conidium is blown out and
elongates. The conidium is uninucleate. X 1000.

Fig. 94. The secondary conidium is delimited from the
conidiopnore by a septum. X 1000.

Fig. 95. A conidiophore with a head of conidia. X 1000.

I "s

A '

", .0-op-


Fig. 9o. Stalked ascogonium of Coprobia granulata
(Humaria granulata); from Gwynne-Vaughan and
Williamson (1930).

Fig. 97. Stalked ascogonium of Cheilymenia stercorea
(Lacnnea stercorea); from Fraser (1907).

Fig. 98. Diagrammatic cross-section of ascocarp showing
tne stalked ascogonium of Scutellinia scutellata
(Lacnnea scutellata); from Brown (1911).

Fig. 99. Stalked ascogonium of Lasiobolus monascus; from
Kimbrough (1973, in press).






:;b :* 1


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