The genera Ustilago, Sporisorium and Macalpinomyces are a polyphyletic complex of plant pathogenic fungi. The four main morphological characters used to define these genera have been considered homoplasious and not useful for resolving the complex. This study re-evaluates character homology and discusses the use of these characters for defining monophyletic groups recovered from a reconstructed phylogeny using four nuclear loci. Generic delimitation of smut fungi based on their hosts is also discussed as a means for identifying genera within this group. Morphological characters and host specificity can be used to circumscribe genera within the Ustilago-Sporisorium-Macalpinomyces complex.

Columella, maximum likelihood, morphology, peridium, smut fungi, spore balls, sterile cells, systematics, Ustilaginales
Persoonia - Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi

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McTaggart, A.R, Shivas, R.G, Geering, A.D.W, Callaghan, B, Vánky, K, & Scharaschkin, T. (2012). Soral synapomorphies are significant for the systematics of the Ustilago-Sporisorium- Macalpinomyces complex (Ustilaginaceae). Persoonia - Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi, 29(1), 63–77.