Syncephalastrum racemosum was probably the only species in the genus according to Schipper and Stalpers (1983), although three additional taxa, the multispored S. almaataense Novobranova (1972) and S. verrucosum Misra (1975), and three varieties of the unispored S. monosporum Zheng, Chen & Hu (Zheng et al., 1988) have been described since Benjamin’s (1959) treatment. Syncephalastrum is the only genus in the Mucorales that produces merosporangia, otherwise the hyphae and zygospores are Mucor-like. Syncephalastrum contains two species, S. racemosum and S. monosporum.

A data set consisting of six taxa from the Mortierellales and 75 spp. containing at least one species all of the genera in culture of the Mucorales (tef-1a, 18S rDNA, 28S rDNA, morphology) of O’Donnell et al. (2001) showed that the Syncephalastrum clade (Syncephalastraceae) had 100% bootstrap support (BP). Voigt and Olsson (2008) analyzed a data set (act, tef-1a, 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA) containing selected species of 50 genera of the Mucorales by neighbor-joining (100% BP) and strict concensus (100% BP) for the Syncephalastraceae.

Syncephalastrum racemosum has been isolated from the clinical specimens of New Orleans residents after the Katrina and Rita hurricanes of 2005, the endophytic fungal community of cacao (Theobroma cocoa L.), eyes of healthy horses, nests of laboratory reared leaf cutter ants (Atta texana Buckley), poultry feed, and spices (Elshafie et al., 2002; Rosa et al., 2003; Rubini et al., 2005; Labuda and Tancinová, 2006; Rao et al., 2007; Rodrigues et al., 2009). Cysteine and its derivatives inhibit spore germination of many Mucorales, including S. racemosum, which might prove useful in the treatment of mucormycosis (Galgóczy et al., 2009). Chitosan from S. racemosum has been used to produce a film used to immobilize lipase (Amorim et al., 2003). Syncephalastrum racemosum has been used to produce an aspartic proteinase (Syncephapepsin) with properties comparable to commericially available products (Ho et al., 1998), and both thermostable endoglucanase and cellulose-free xylanase enzymes (Sapre et al., 2006; Wonganu et al, 2008). Syncephalastrum racemosum has been used to microbially transform cinobufagin to other compounds several of which are cytoxic when tested against human hepatoma cells (Ma et al., 2008). Mycotic infections have been caused by S. racemosum, including mucormycosis (Schlebusch and Looke, 2005) and onychomycosis (Pavlovic and Bulajic, 2006). Nyilasi et al. (2008) reported a sequence-based method that can be used to identify fungi that cause zygomycosis.

Syncephalastraceae is recognized by Cannon and Kirk (2007 — significant genus is Syncephalastrum) and Kirk et al. (2008 — eight genera recognized but none are mentioned by name). Two websites, Ecyclopedia of Life ( and Species 2000 Catalogue of Life 2009 Annual Checklist ( list eight genera in the Syncephalastraceae: Dichotomocladium, Fennellomyces, Mycocladus, Phascolomyces, Protomycocladus, Syncephalastrum, Thamnostylum and Zychaea.

Syncephalastrum is the only genus in the Syncephalastraceae recognized here. Syncephalastrum can be isolated from both soil and dung, but plant material or other organic substrates, including mycosis, also can be a source of this fungus.

Syncephalastraceae Naumov ex R.K. Benjamin, 1959 (Aliso 4: 327).
= Syncephalastraceae Naumov, 1935 ([Opredelitel Mukorovykh (Mucorales), Ed. 2, p. 16 (nomen nudum, without a Latin diagnosis; Art. 36.1 of the ICBN, McNeill et al., 2006)].

Somatic hyphae branched, coenocytic when young, septate in age, stolonlike, adventituous rhizoids often produced. Fertile vesicles globose or obovoid, formed on the apex of the sporophore or its branches; bearing merosporangia over its entire surface. Merosporangia more or less cylindrical, containing one- to many spores; wall fugacious. Sporangiospores cylindrical to globose to ovoid, usually borne uniseriately. Zygospores with a rough, dark zygosporangial wall, suspensors slightly unequal, nonappendaged, opposed.

Type and only genus: Syncephalastrum

Synopsis of Genera

SYNCEPHALASTRUM Schröter, 1886 (In Cohn’s Kryptogamen-Flora von Schlesen 3(2): 217); 2 sp. (Benjamin, 1959 — ILLUS.; Zycha et al., 1969 — illus.; Misra, 1975 — illus.; Benjamin and Tucker, 1978 — ILLUS.; Schipper and Stalpers, 1983 — illus.; Zheng et al., 1988 — ILLUS.).

Genera Not Accepted Here but Included in Syncephalastraceae by Some Authors

[Dichotomocladium — see synonsis of genera with unknown affinities (Mucorales)]

[Fennellomyces — see synonsis of genera with unknown affinities (Mucorales)]

[Mycocladus — see Mycocladaceae (Mucorales)]

[Phascolomyces — see synonsis of genera with unknown affinities (Mucorales)]

[Protomycocladus — see synonsis of genera with unknown affinities (Mucorales)]

[Thamnostylum — see synonsis of genera with unknown affinities (Mucorales)]

[Zychaea — see synonsis of genera with unknown affinities (Mucorales)]


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Updated Jun 08, 2010