CUNNINGHAMELLA Matruchot, 1903 (Ann. Mycol. 1:47); 14 spp. + 7 var. (Weitzman, 1984; Zheng and Cheng, 2001—monograph).
= Actinocephalum Saito, 1905 [Bot. Mag. (Tokyo) 19:36].
= Saitomyces Ricker, 1906 (J. Mycology 12:61).
= Muratella Bainier & Sartory, 1913 (Bull. Soc. Mycol. France 29:129).

Members of Cunninghamella are characterized by the formation of pedicellate, unispored sporangia which, in most species, cover the entire vesicle. The spores are usually covered with relatively long spines having a hexagonal base. Branching patterns of both the sporangiophores and the fertile hyphae bearing the vesicles varies among taxa. Zygospores are formed in all levels of the aerial hyphae. The zygospores have a reddish-brown zygosporangial wall and they are formed between opposed suspensors that are more or less equal in size.

Type species: C. echinulata var. echinulata

Species of Cunninghamella:
C. antarctica Caretta & Piontelli—see Cunninghamella echinulata var. antarctica.
C. bertholletiae Stadl, 1911 (Dissertation, Kgl. Christian-Albrechts University, p. 7).
C. binariae R.-Y. Zheng, 2001 (in Zheng and Chen, Mycotaxon 80:22).
C. blakesleeana Lendner, 1927 (Bull. Soc. bot. Genéve, Sér. 2, 19:238).
C. brunnea Rai, Agarwal & Tewari, 1968 (J. Gen. Appl. Microbiol. 14:443).
C. clavata Zheng & G.-q. Chen, 1998 (Mycotaxon 69:189).
C. echinulata (Thaxter) Thaxter ex Blakeslee var. antarctica (Caretta & Piontelli) R.-y. Zheng & G.-q. Chen, 2001 (Mycotaxon 80:33)
C. echinulata var. echinulata (Thaxter) Thaxter, 1903 (Rhodora 5:98) ex Blakeslee, 1903 [Bot. Gaz. (Crawfordsville) 40:161).
C. echinulata var. indica Baijal & B.S. Mehrotra, 1980 (Sydowia 33:6).
C. echinulata var. nodosa R.-y. Zheng, 2001 (in Zheng and Chen, Mycotaxon 80:35).
C. echinulata var. verticellata (F.S. Paine) Zheng & G.-q. Chen, 1995-1996 (Mycosystema 8-9:7).
C. elegans Lendner, 1907 (Bull. Herb. Boissier, Sér. II, 7:250).
C. homothallica Kominami & Tubaki, 1952 (in Kominami, Kobayasi, and Tubaki, Nagaoa 1:21).
C. indica Baijal & B.S. Mehrotra, 1980 (Sydowia 33:7).
C. intermedia K.B. Despand. & Mantri, 1966 (Mycopath. Mycol. Appl. 28:343).
C. multiverticellata (R.-y. Zheng & G.-q. Chen) R.-y. Zheng, 2001 (in Zheng and Chen, Mycotaxon 30:50).
C. phaeospora var. phaeospora Boedijn, 1958 (Sydowia 12:348).
C. phaeospora var. multiverticillata—a synonym of Cunninghamella multiverticillata (q.v.).
C. polymorpha Pispek—a synonym of Cunninghamella bertholletiae (q.v.).
C. septata R.-y. Zheng, 2001 (in Zheng and Chen, Mycotaxon 80:56).
C. vesiculosa P.C. Misra, 1966 (Can. J. Bot. 44:441).

Cunninghamella has been monographed six times in the last 65 years (Alcorn and Yeager 1938; Cutter 1946, Mil’ko and Beljakova, 1967; Samson 1969; Baijal and Mehrotra 1980; Lunn and Shipton 1983; Zheng and Chen 2001). Lunn and Shipton (1980) discuss the criteria used by Shipton and Lunn (1983) when they monographed Cunninghamella.

The number of taxa recognized based on morphology has varied from as few as four (Lunn and Shipton 1983) to as many as 15 (Zheng and Chen 2001). We are following the taxon recognition in Zheng and Chen (2001)[see also the discussions of taxa in Zheng and Chen (1992, 1994, 1995-1996, 1998)]. Liu et al. (2001) analysed the phylogeny of Cunninghamella based on ITS sequences.


Alcorn, G.D., and C.C. Yeager. 1938. A monograph of the genus Cunninghamella with additional descriptions of several common species. Mycologia 30:653-658.

Baijal, U., and B.S. Mehrotra. 1980. The genus Cunninghamella — reassessment. Sydowia 33:1-13.

Cutter, V.M., Jr. 1946. The genus Cunninghamella (Mucorales). Farlowia 2:321-343.

Liu, X.-y., H. Huang, and R.-y. Zheng. 2001. Relationships within Cunninghamella based on sequence analysis of ITS rDNA. Mycotaxon 80:77-95.

Lunn, J.A. and W.A. Shipton. 1983. Re-evaluation of taxonomic criteria in Cunninghamella. Trans. Brit. Mycol. Soc. 81:303-312.

Mil’ko, A.A., and L.A. Beljakova. 1967. Rod Cunninghamella Matruchot I taxonomie Cunninghamellaceae [Genus Cunninghamella Matruchot and taxonomy of the Cunninghamellaceae]. Mikrobiologiya 36:684-690 [English translation available in Microbiology 36 (4):573-578, 1967].

Samson, R.A. 1969. Revision of the genus Cunninghamella (Fungi, Mucorales). Proceedings Koninkl. Nederl. Akademie van Wetenschappen-Amsterdam, Series C, 72:322-335.

Shipton, W.A., and J.A. Lunn. 1980. Sporangiole morphology and species separation in Cunninghamella. Trans. Brit. Mycol. Soc. 74:483-491.

Weitzman, I. 1984. The case for Cunninghamella elegans, C. bertholletiae, and C. echinulata as separate species. Trans. Brit. Mycol. Soc. 83:527-529.

Zheng, R.-y., and G.-q. Chen. 1992. Should Cunninghamella polymorpha, C. phaeospora, and C. brunnea be accepted as distinct species? Mycosystema 5: 1-17.

Zheng, R.-y., and G.-q. Chen. 1994. Cunninghamella phaeospora var. multiverticillata var. nov. and its mating with var. phaeospora. Mycosystema 7:1-11.

Zheng, R.-y., and G.-q. Chen. 1995-1996. Cunninghamella echinulata (Thaxt.) Thaxt. ex Blakeslee var. echinulata and var. verticellata (Paine) comb. nov. Mycosystema 8-9:1-13.

Zheng, R.-y., and G.-q. Chen. 1998. Cunninghamella clavata sp. nov., a fungus with an usual type of branching of sporophore. Mycotaxon 69:187-198.

Zheng, R.-y., and G.-q. Chen. 2001. A monograph of Cunninghamella. Mycotaxon 80:1-75.

Updated Oct 22, 2006