Zygomycetes: Piptocephalis
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Most species haustorial parasites of Mucorales, but one can use ascomycete anamorphs as the host. Sporangiophores dichotomously branched several times; head cells, if formed, and merosporangia produced on the ultimate branches. Merosporangia uni- or multispored, usually cylindrical. Spores variously shaped, when mature released dry or in a spore droplet. Zygospores, when formed, more or less globose; suspensors apposed.

Piptocephaliscan be isolated from many habitats. Many taxa were isolated from rodent dung by Dr. R.K. Benjamin. I have isolated a few species from soil but members ofPiptocephalisdo not appear to be as common in soil as isSyncephalis. Isolation ofPiptocephaliscan be relatively easy if you have watch makers forceps used by electron microscopists and fine needle such as stainless steel minuten insect pins that can be mounted in inoculating needle handles. Spores from spore droplets can be transferred using either the minuten insect pins or forceps whereas the dry spores should be collected using forceps. Spores are then inoculated on an appropriate host.

Benjamin (1959) recommended usingCokeromyces recurvatus, or for somePiptocephalisspecies,Umbelopsis ramannianus, as the host forPiptocephalisspp. The host can be grown on a relatively nutrient-rich culture medium, such asMEYEor Emerson’s YpSs agars. Jeffries and Kirk (1976) recommended the use ofC. recurvatusyeast cells obtained from liquid culture as the initial host forPiptocephalis, and other merosporangiferous mucorales.

C Robertson
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