Research Article
Research Article
Diversity of Moesziomyces (Ustilaginales, Ustilaginomycotina) on Echinochloa and Leersia (Poaceae)
expand article infoYing-Ming Li§, Roger G. Shivas|, Bao-Ju Li, Lei Cai§
‡ Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China
§ Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
| University of Southern Queensland, Queensland, Australia
Open Access


A combined ecological, morphological, and molecular approach was used to examine 26 herbarium specimens and eight strains of Moesziomyces. The phylogenetic analysis resolved eight well-supported clades, of which three contained type specimens of known species of Moesziomyces. One clade contained two specimens that produced a teleomorph in the flowers of Echinochloa kimberleyensis in Australia. The name Moesziomyces kimberleyensis is proposed for this smut fungus. Another clade contained specimens that produced sori in the flowers of Leersia hexandra. The name Thecaphora globuligera (now Moesziomyces globuligerus) is available for this species, which is lectotypified. The teleomorph of Moesziomyces antarcticus, previously known only from Japan, is found for the first time in China, on Echinochloa crus-galli.


Ecology, plant pathogens, phylogeny, Ustilaginaceae, Ustilaginomycotina


The genus Moesziomyces (Ustilaginales, Ustilaginaceae) was established by Vánky (1977) for smut fungi that produce sori in the ovaries of grasses, lack a columella, and have spores with irregular meshes and wings on the surface, bound in firmly agglutinated spore balls. Vánky (1977) recognized four species, M. bullatus, M. evernius, M. globuligerus, and M. penicillariae. Vánky (1986, 2012, 2013) later synonymised these names with the oldest available name, M. bullatus, and considered Moesziomyces as monotypic. Species of Moesziomyces are known to produce both free-living saprobic anamorphs (yeast-like) and plant pathogenic teleomorphs (smuts) (Wang et al. 2015; Kruse et al. 2017). The anamorphs of Moesziomyces are readily culturable on artificial media and have been isolated from a range of substrates, while the teleomorphs are formed in ovaries of seven genera of grasses (Poaceae). Wang et al. (2015) recombined four species known only by their anamorphs (Pseudozyma antarctica, P. aphidis, P. parantarctica, and P. rugulosa) into Moesziomyces, based on a molecular phylogenetic analysis. Subsequently, Tanaka et al. (2019) showed that one of these species, M. antarcticus, produced a teleomorph on Echinochloa crus-galli in Japan. A further five species, M. bullatus, M. eriocauli, M. evernius, M. penicillariae, and M. verrucosus, have been characterized from teleomorphs (Vánky 2012; Wang et al. 2015; Kruse et al. 2017). Kruse et al. (2017) recognized six species of Moesziomyces based on phylogenetic analysis, and treated M. aphidis and M. rugulosus as synonyms of M. bullatus.

The teleomorphs of Ustilaginaceae are mostly host specific (Stoll et al. 2003, 2005; Skibbe et al. 2010; McTaggart et al. 2012; Li et al. 2017a, 2017b). Given that species of Moesziomyces have been reported from seven different genera of grasses (Echinochloa, Leersia, Panicum, Paspalum, Pennisetum, Polytrias, and Uranthoecium), it is likely that additional species remain to be discovered. The aim of this study was to build on the work of Kruse et al. (2017) by examining specimens of Moesziomyces held in herbaria BRIP (Queensland Plant Pathology Herbarium), HMAS (Herbarium Mycologicum Academiae Sinicae), and HUV (Herbarium Ustilaginales Vánky, now deposited in BRIP), as well as eight yeast strains deposited in LC Culture Collection (personal culture collection held in the laboratory of Dr Lei Cai).

Materials and methods

Specimen examination

Specimens borrowed from several herbaria were examined by light microscopy (Table 1) by mounting the spores in lactic acid (100% v/v). Teliospore measurements were expressed as ranges (min–) mean-standard deviation-mean + standard deviation (–max) (n = 50). Images were captured by using a Nikon DS-Fi1 camera attached to a Nikon Eclipse 80i microscope with Nomarski differential interference contrast. Helicon Focus ver. 4.46.1 (Helicon Soft Ltd) was used to combine images to increase depth of field. Nomenclatural novelties and descriptions were registered in MycoBank (

Table 1.

Collection details for Moesziomyces specimens newly sequenced in this study.

Species Specimen/strain no.1 Host Source Location Year of collection ITS GenBank accession number2
Moesziomyces antarcticus HMAS 248025 Echinochloa crus-galli Sorus China 2017 MK027038
M. antarcticus HMAS 248026 E. crus-galli Sorus China 2017 MK027039
M. antarcticus HMAS 60130 E. crus-galli Sorus China 1989 MK027043
M. bullatus HMAS 146471 E. crus-galli Sorus China 2003 MK027040
M. bullatus HMAS 50052 E. crus-galli Sorus China 1985 MK027041
M. bullatus LC-CLS58-3-2 Setaria faberii Leaf surface China 2017 MK024201
M. bullatus LC-CLS58-3-21 S. faberii Leaf surface China 2017 MK024202
M. bullatus LC-CLS58-3-22 S. faberii Leaf surface China 2017 MK024203
M. bullatus LC-CLS60-2-22 Pennisetum sp. Leaf surface China 2017 MK024204
M. bullatus LC-CLS60-2-4 Pennisetum sp. Leaf surface China 2017 MK024205
M. bullatus LC-SY1-2-11 Digitaria sp. Leaf surface China 2017 MK024206
M. bullatus LC-SY1-2-21 Digitaria sp. Leaf surface China 2017 MK024207
M. bullatus LC-SY1-2-22 Digitaria sp. Leaf surface China 2017 MK024208
M. bullatus HMAS 50454 E. crus-galli Sorus Japan 1985 MK027042
M. bullatus HMAS 70876 E. crus-galli Sorus China 1991 MK027045
M. bullatus HMAS 73871 E. crus-galli Sorus China 1996 MK027046
M. bullatus HUV 2442* E. crus-galli Sorus Poland 1869 MK027047
M. bullatus HUV 305 E. crus-galli Sorus Germany 1905 MK027050
M. globuligerus BRIP 27384 Leersia hexandra Sorus Australia 1998 MK027025
M. globuligerus BRIP 44301 L. hexandra Sorus Australia 2004 MK027029
M. globuligerus BRIP 44569 L. hexandra Sorus Australia 2004 MK027030
M. globuligerus BRIP 47767 L. hexandra Sorus Thailand 2005 MK027031
M. globuligerus BRIP 47768 L. hexandra Sorus Thailand 2005 MK027032
M. globuligerus BRIP 51872 L. hexandra Sorus Australia 2008 MK027035
M. globuligerus HMAS 248027 L. hexandra Sorus China 2017 MK027037
M. kimberleyensis BRIP 51843* E. kimberleyensis Sorus Australia 2008 MK027034
M. kimberleyensis BRIP 52498 E. kimberleyensis Sorus Australia 2009 MK027036
M. penicillariae HUV 2487 Pe. glaucum Sorus Gambia 1973 MK027048
M. penicillariae HUV 2488 Pe. glaucum Sorus India 1912 MK027049
M. verrucosus BRIP 39886 Paspalum distichum Sorus Australia 2003 MK027026
M. verrucosus BRIP 43727 Pa. distichum Sorus Australia 2004 MK027027
M. verrucosus BRIP 43735 Pa. distichum Sorus Australia 2004 MK027028
M. verrucosus BRIP 51772 Pa. distichum Sorus India 1992 MK027033
M. verrucosus HMAS 66437 Pa. distichum Sorus India 1992 MK027044

DNA extraction, PCR amplification and sequencing

Sori were carefully removed from herbarium specimens, up to 149 years old, with a fine needle, sterilized by dipping in 75% ethanol for 30 s, air-dried on sterilized filter paper, and deposited in cell lysis solution (CTAB). Pure yeast colonies grown on yeast extract peptone dextrose (YPD) plates were transferred to cell lysis solution directly. Genomic DNA was extracted following the protocol of Cubero et al. (1999). Fragments of internal transcribed spacer rDNA were amplified by PCR with primers M-ITS1/ITS4 (White et al. 1990; Stoll et al. 2003).

PCR amplifications were carried out in 25 μl reactions containing 1 μl of genomic DNA template, 9.5 μl distilled water, 12.5 μl of 2 X Taq Plus Master Mix (Nanjing Vazyme Biotech Co. Ltd, Nanjing, China) and 1 μl of each primer (10 μM). Amplification reactions were run as follows: initial denaturation of 95 °C for 5 min followed by 35 cycles at 95 °C for 30 s, 45 s at 58 °C (annealing temperature) and 1 min at 72 °C with a final extension of 10 min at 72 °C. PCR products were sent to Tianyihuiyuan (Beijing, China) for sequencing with the forward and reverse primers indicated above. AB1 sequence traces were assembled with Sequencher version 5 (Genecodes, Ann Arbor, USA).

Phylogenetic analyses

The sequences included in this study (Tables 1, 2) were aligned online with MAFFT ( using auto strategy, and observed in MEGA 5 (Katoh and Toh 2008). Phylogenetic analyses were based on both maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian Inference (BI). RAxML (Stamatakis 2006) and PhyML 3.0 (Guindon et al. 2010) were used for ML analyses. GTRGAMMA was specified as the model of evolution in both programs. The RAxML analyses were run with a rapid Bootstrap analysis (command -f a) using a random starting tree and 1 000 ML bootstrap replicates. The PhyML analyses were implemented using the ATGC bioinformatics platform (available at:, with six substitution type and SPR tree improvement, and support obtained from an approximate likelihood ratio test (Anisimova et al. 2011).

For BI, MrBayes was used with a Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm incorporating four runs, each consisting of four chains, until the standard deviation of split frequencies was reached. The cold chain was heated at a temperature of 0.25. Substitution model parameters were sampled every 50 generations and trees were saved every 5000 generations. Convergence of the Bayesian analysis was confirmed using AWTY (Nylander et al. 2008) (available at: A user-defined tree obtained from the PhyML analyses was used as a starting point for all the Bayesian analyses, which helped to improve convergence of the four runs.


The ITS dataset comprised the newly sequenced Moesziomyces specimens and strains (Table 1) together with the reference sequences of Moesziomyces from Kruse et al. (2017) and Tanaka et al. (2019) (Table 2) and Triodiomyces altilis and Ustilago echinata as the outgroup based on the phylogenetic analyses of Wang et al. (2015). The topology of the ML and BI analyses (Fig. 1) were congruent. The phylogenetic analyses revealed eight distinct groups with high support values, including six clades consistent with those recovered by Kruse et al. (2017). The largest clade included specimens of M. bullatus on Echinochloa crus-galli (the host for the type specimen of M. bullatus) and E. muricata from Europe, related yeast strains as well as strains formerly assigned to the synonymous species names Pseudozyma aphidis and P. rugulosa (Kruse et al. 2017). Four well-supported clades comprised teleomorphic specimens on Echinochloa kimberleyensis, Leersia hexandra, Paspalum distichum, and Pennisetum glaucum (the latter with related yeast strains). One well-supported clade comprised yeast strains assigned to M. parantarcticus. One moderately supported clade comprised teleomorphic specimens on E. crus-galli from China and Japan and related yeast strains, assigned to M. antarcticus. The remaining single-sequence lineage was formed by Moesziomyces eriocauli on Eriocaulon cinereum (Eriocaulaceae).

Figure 1. 

Phylogram obtained from a ML analysis based on the ITS sequence alignment. Values above the branches represent ML bootstrap values (> 70%) from RaxML and PhyML analysis respectively. Thickened branches represent Bayesian posterior probabilities (> 0.95). The scale bar indicates 0.03 expected substitutions per site. * indicates type specimens or type strains.

Table 2.

List of Moesziomyces, Triodiomyces, and Ustilago sequences taken from GenBank and used in the phylogenetic analysis.

Species Source ITS GenBank accession number Reference
Moesziomyces antarcticus JX094775 Gujjari et al. (unpubl.)
JN942669 An (unpubl.)
unpolished Japanese rice AB089360 Sugita et al. 2003
Antarctica sediment AF294698 Avis et al. 2001
Albizia julibrissin flower AY641557 Wei et al. 2005
lake sediment AB089358 Sugita et al. 2003
tomato rhizosphere KF493994 Johnston-Monje et al. (unpubl.)
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368624 Tanaka et al. 2019
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368624 Tanaka et al. 2019
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368624 Tanaka et al. 2019
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368624 Tanaka et al. 2019
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368624 Tanaka et al. 2019
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368624 Tanaka et al. 2019
Echinochloa crus-galli sorus LC368625 Tanaka et al. 2019
Moesziomyces bullatus human preterm low birth weight infant KF926673 Okolo et al. 2015
DQ831013 Matheny et al. 2006
Japanese pear fruit AB204896 Yasuda et al. 2007
Saccharum officinarum AB704889 Morita et al. 2012
Leucaena glauca HQ662536 Wei et al. 2011
human EU105207 Lin et al. 2008
human blood AB089362 Sugita et al. 2003
human HQ848933 Xie et al. unpubl.
Fallopia japonica KC282385 Wang & Liu (unpubl.)
human blood KM610219 Bosco-Borgeat & Taverna (unpubl.)
Leucaena glauca HQ647299 Wei et al. 2011
Saccharum officinarum AB704890 Morita et al. 2012
poplar leaf KM268868 Sun & Yan (unpubl.)
Forcipomyia taiwana KM555221 Chen (unpubl.)
seaweed KP269028 Wang et al. (unpubl.)
aphid secretion AF294699 Avis et al. 2001
Neoreglia cruenta FN424100 Garcia et al. (unpubl.)
Saccharum officinarum AB704878 Morita et al. 2012
giant panda secretion KF973199 Li et al. (unpubl.)
Camellia sinensis leaf lesions HQ832804 Li et al. (unpubl.)
Echinochloa crus-galli GU390690 Hamayun & Ahmad (unpubl.)
aphid secretion on Solanum pseudocapsicum JN942666 An (unpubl.)
Citrus leaf JQ425372 Soliman (unpubl.)
JN942667 An (unpubl.)
mouldy Zea mays leaf AB089370 Sugita et al. 2003
plant leaf HE650886 Han et al. 2012
ex-leaf of corn AF294697 Avis et al. 2001
Hyoscyamus muticus AB500693 Abdel-Motaal & Itu (unpubl.)
Coffea arabica EU002890 Vega et al. (unpubl.)
Coffea arabica DQ778919 Vega et al. 2008
Saccharum officinarum leaf LC053989 Surussawadee & Limtong (unpubl.)
marine environment DQ178645 Chang et al. 2008
Helicoverpa armigera larva gut AM160637 Molnar & Prillinger (unpubl.)
Moesziomyces bullatus marine sediment KC834821 Qu et al. (unpubl.)
KR047769 Wang et al. (unpubl.)
pharmaceutical effluent KF922220 Selvi & Das (unpubl.)
barley kernels and leaf HG532070 Korhola et al. 2014
Ericaceae roots HQ260042 Walker et al. 2011
cleaned rice AB235999 Ikeda et al. 2007
Arabidopsis thaliana infected with Albugo laibachii KY930224 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424439 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424428 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424429 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa muricata KY424430 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa muricata KY424431 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa muricata KY424432 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa muricata KY424433 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424434 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424435 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424436 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424437 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424427 Kruse et al. 2017
Echinochloa crus-galli KY424438 Kruse et al. 2017
shoot of tip pepper GU975792 Sim et al. (unpubl.)
Moesziomyces eriocauli Eriocaulon cinereum AY740041 Stoll et al. 2005
Moesziomyces parantarcticus KP132543 Irinyi et al. 2015
human blood AB089356 Sugita et al. 2003
NR130693 An (unpubl.)
JN544036 Chen (unpubl.)
yam tuber steep water KF619567 Babajide et al. 2015
Axonopus compressus soil HQ436080 Kee & Chia (unpubl.)
Moesziomyces penicillariae Pennisetum glaucum KY424440 Kruse et al. 2017
Moesziomyces verrucosus Paspalum distichum AY740153 Stoll et al. 2005
Triodiomyces altilis Triodia pungens AY740166 Stoll et al. 2005
Ustilago echinata Phalaris arundinacea AY345001 Stoll et al. 2003


Based on the phylogenetic analysis and the hosts of the teleomorphs, a new species of Moesziomyces is described and another species resurrected. Additionally, the teleomorph of M. antarcticus is reported for the first time from China.

Moesziomyces antarcticus (Goto, Sugiyama & Iizuka) Q.M. Wang, Begerow, F.Y. Bai & Boekhout, Stud. Mycol. 81: 81 (2015)

Figure 2h–k

Sporobolomyces antarcticus Goto, Sugiyama & Iizuka, Mycologia 61: 759 (1969). [Basionym]

Candida antarctica (Goto, Sugiyama & Iizuka) Kurtzman et al. Yeasts: 86 (1983).

Vanrija antarctica (Goto, Sugiyama & Iizuka) R.T. Moore, Bibltheca Mycol. 108: 167 (1987).

Pseudozyma antarctica (Goto, Sugiyama & Iizuka) Boekhout, J. Gen. Appl. Microbiol. 41: 364 (1995).

Trichosporon oryzae H. Ito, Iizuka & T. Sato, Agric. Biol. Chem. 38: 1599 (1974). (synonymy by Q.M. Wang, Begerow, F.Y. Bai and Boekhout).


Sori in scattered ovaries, sometimes deciduous, globose to ovoid, 2–3 mm in length, covered by a smooth green membrane of host tissue origin that becomes brown and ruptures irregularly to expose a granular, black to dark brown mass of spore balls; columella absent. Spore balls variable in shape and size, globose, subglobose, ovoid, elongate to irregular, 130–200 μm in diameter, dark brown, composed of up to several hundred spores, united firmly by fungal sterile cells and spore meshes and wings. Spore globose, ovoid to irregular, slightly polyhedral, (8–) 8.5–9.5 (–10) × (6–) 7–9 (–10) μm, usually with well-developed meshes and wings, subhyaline to pale yellowish-brown; wall 0.5 μm thick, smooth. Some of the sterile cells empty at maturity, thin-walled, with irregular meshes or wings on the spore surface when the spores separates; other sterile cells, globose, ovoid to irregular, slightly polyhedral, (8–) 8.5–9.5 (–10) × (6–) 7–9 (–10) μm, subhyaline to pale yellowish brown; wall 1–1.5 μm thick, smooth.

Specimens examined

CHINA, Sichuan, Chengdu, on Echinochloa crus-galli, 15 Sept. 1989, L. Guo leg., HMAS 60130; Guangxi, on E. crus-galli, Oct. 2017, R.G. Shivas, M.D.E. Shivas & Y.-M. Li leg., HMAS 208025; Guangxi, on E. crus-galli, Oct. 2017, R.G. Shivas, M.D.E. Shivas & Y.-M. Li leg., HMAS 208026.


The teleomorph of Moesziomyces antarcticus was previously reported from Japan, on Echinochloa crus-galli (Tanaka et al. 2019). The current report from China, also on E. crus-galli, suggests that this smut fungus may be common in the teleomorphic stage, at least in East Asia.

Moesziomyces globuligerus (Berk. & Broome) Vánky, Bot. Not. 130: 135 (1977)

Figure 2e–g

Thecaphora globuligera Berk. & Broome, Trans. Linn. Soc. London, Bot., Ser. 2, 1: 407 (1880). — Type: AUSTRALIA, Queensland, Brisbane, on Leersia hexandra, F.M. Bailey, No. 86 (K(M) 252436, lectotype designated here, MBT 385180, not seen; K(M) 252437, syntype). [Basionym]

Tolyposporium globuligerum (Berk. & Broome) Ricker, J. Mycol. 11:112 (1905).

Testicularia leersiae Cornu, Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot., Sér. 6, 15: 275 (1883).


Sori in some of the ovaries, often deciduous, ellipsoidal to oval, 2.5–4 × 1.5–3 mm, green at first, later brown, smooth, ruptures irregularly to reveal a granular, dark brown mass of spore balls; columella absent. Spore balls subglobose, ellipsoidal or irregular, 75–150 µm in diameter, yellowish brown, composed of up to several hundred spores that separate by moderate pressure. Spores subglobose, ovoid to irregularly polyhedral, (8–) 8.5–11 (–13) × (6–) 7–9 (–10) μm ( = 9.6 ± 1.2 × 7.9 ± 0.9 μm, n = 50), subhyaline to pale yellowish brown, attached together by multiple narrow cylindrical protuberances about 2 μm wide and 1–2 μm long; wall with irregular meshes and wings, less than 0.5 μm thick, smooth. (Based on specimen BRIP 27384).

Specimens examined

AUSTRALIA, Queensland, Willowbank, on Leersia hexandra, 9 Mar. 1998, C. Vánky & K. Vánky leg., BRIP 27384; Queensland, Mareeba, on L. hexandra, 1 May 2004, M.D.E. Shivas & R.G. Shivas leg., BRIP 44301; Queensland, Mt Garnet, on L. hexandra, 5 May 2005, T.S. Marney & R.G. Shivas leg., BRIP 44569; Northern Territory, Darwin, on L. hexandra, 15 Apr. 2008, J. Ray, A.A. Mitchell, A.R. McTaggart & R.G. Shivas leg., BRIP 51872. CHINA, Guangxi province, on L. hexandra, Oct. 2017, R.G. Shivas, M.D.E. Shivas, Y.-M. Li, P. Zhao & X.-H. Qi leg., HMAS 248027. THAILAND, Kanchanaburi, on L. hexandra, 16 Dec. 2005, R.G. Shivas & M.D.E. Shivas leg., BRIP 47767; Chiang Mai, on L. hexandra, 26 Dec. 2005, R.G. Shivas & M.D.E. Shivas leg., BRIP 47768.


Vánky (1986) considered that M. globuligerus was a synonym of M. bullatus based on their similar morphologies. Phylogenetic analyses support M. globuligerus as a distinct species (Fig. 1), with a teleomorph specific to the pantropical grass Leersia hexandra (Berkeley and Broome 1880). The name Testicularia leersiae (Cornu 1883), described from infected Leersia hexandra in Algeria, is likely a heterotypic synonym of M. globuligerus, but this has not been checked by molecular phylogenetic analysis. The type material of Thecaphora globuligera was collected circa 1878 from near the Brisbane River, Queensland, Australia by the botanist F. M. Bailey (Berkeley and Broome 1880). Original material of this specimen (F.M. Bailey, No. 86) could not be found in the Australian herbaria BRI and BRIP, where most of F.M. Bailey’s specimens are held. Two syntypes were located in K(M), of which K(M) 252436 ex C.E. Broome herbarium (BM) was selected as lectotype of T. globuligera (now M. globuligerus). The material in the second specimen, K(M) 252437 from the Berkeley herbarium, was scant (Dr Begoña Aguirre-Hudson pers. comm).

Figure 2. 

a–d Moesziomyces kimberleyensis (holotype BRIP 51843) e–g Moesziomyces globuligerus (BRIP 27384) h–k Moesziomyces antarcticus (HMAS 60130). a, b: sori. c, d, f, j, k: spores under LM. g: spores under SEM. Scale bars: 1 mm (b, i); 10 µm (c, d, f, g, j, k).

Moesziomyces kimberleyensis Y.M. Li, L. Cai & R.G. Shivas, sp. nov.

MycoBank No: 827986
Figure 2a–d


AUSTRALIA, Western Australia, Kununurra, Mulligan’s Lagoon Road, on Echinochloa kimberleyensis, 9 Apr. 2008, A.R. McTaggart, V.L. Challinor, A.D.W. Geering, M.D.E. Shivas & R.G. Shivas leg. (holotype: BRIP 51843).


Named after the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia from where it was collected.


Sori in some of the ovaries, often deciduous, globose to ovoid, 3–6 × 2–4 mm, green at first, later brown, smooth, ruptures irregularly to reveal a granular, dark brown mass of spore balls; columella absent. Spore balls subglobose, ovoid, elongate or irregular, 275–100 µm diam, dark brown, composed of up to several hundred spores, separated by moderate pressure. Spore globose, ovoid to irregular, slightly polyhedral, (9–) 9.5–12 (–14.5) × (8–) 8.5–9.5 (–10) μm ( = 10.5 ± 1.2 × 8.9 ± 0.7 μm, n = 50), subhyaline to yellowish brown, attached together by multiple narrow cylindrical protuberances about 2 μm wide and 1–2 μm long; wall with irregular meshes and wings, 0.5 μm thick, smooth.

Additional specimen examined

AUSTRALIA, Western Australia, Kununurra, Mulligan’s Lagoon Road, on E. kimberleyensis, 7 May 2009, A.R. McTaggart, M.J. Ryley, M.D.E. Shivas & R.G. Shivas leg. (BRIP 52498).


Moesziomyces kimberleyensis was shown in the phylogenetic analysis to reside in a well-supported clade sister to M. bullatus. Moesziomyces kimberleyensis is only known from the teleomorph, which forms sori in flowers of E. kimberleyensis, and thereby differs from M. bullatus by host association. Moesziomyces kimberleyensis is only known from one location in Western Australia on E. kimberleyensis, which is an endemic grass in the tropical and subtropical woodlands of northern Australia.


The phylogenetic analyses in this study supported the host specificity of the teleomorphic stage of six species of Moesziomyces, specifically, M. antarcticus on Echinochloa crus-galli, M. bullatus on E. crus-galli and E. muricata, M. globuligerus on Leersia hexandra, M. kimberleyensis on E. kimberleyensis, M. penicillariae on Pennisetum glaucum, and M. verrucosus on Paspalum distichum. The teleomorph of M. eriocauli may be specific to Eriocaulon spp., although this cannot be ascertained from the sequence data of one specimen. Specimens that have been assigned to M. bullatus were not well resolved and formed a number of smaller clades with varying degrees of support (Fig. 1). The M. bullatus clade contained several anamorphic yeasts isolated from diverse habitats (Wang et al. 2015; Kruse et al. 2017), including leaves of Digitaria sp., Pennisetum sp., and Setaria faberii. This shows that the anamorphs of Moesziomyces are widespread in the environment as saprobes.

The anamorphs of Moesziomyces, together with most members of the Ustilaginales, have a dimorphic lifecycle comprised of a parasitic dikaryotic phase characterized by teliospores, together with a saprobic yeast-like haploid phase (Brefeld 1883; de Bary 1884; Sampson 1939; Begerow et al. 2014). The teliospores are generally thick-walled and darkened, which protects against desiccation and UV radiation, thereby facilitating survival and long-distance dispersal (Piepenbring et al. 1998). The basidiospores are usually thin-walled, hyaline, and survive as free-living saprobic yeasts that may occur on a vast diversity of substrates (Wang et al. 2015; Kruse et al. 2017; Tanaka et al. 2019). There is genomic evidence that some saprobic ustilaginalean yeasts, e.g. M. antarcticus, Kalmanozyma brasiliensis (= P. brasiliensis), Pseudozyma hubeiensis, and the yeast stage of M. bullatus (= P. aphidis), have retained the capacity to produce effector proteins, which hints at the possibility that undiscovered plant pathogenic stages may exist for these fungi (Sharma et al. 2018). Indeed, a teleomorph for M. antarcticus (=P. antarctica) was recently reported for the first time on Echinochloa crus-galli (Tanaka et al. 2019). Further collections are needed to resolve the ecological relationships and elucidate the life cycles of the ustilaginalean fungi and their hosts.


We thank Dr Begoña Aguirre-Hudson (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) for providing information about the syntypes of Thecaphora globuligera. We are also grateful to Dr Julia Kruse (University of Southern Queensland) for helpful comments about the manuscript. Marjan Shivas, Peng Zhao, Fang Liu, and Xiao-Hua Qi are thanked for assistance with specimen collection. This study was financially supported by CAS-QYZDB-SSW-SMC044 and CAAS-ASTIP-IVFCAAS.


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