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Keywords:

  • community ecology;
  • ectomycorrhizal fungi;
  • environmental DNA;
  • host parasite interactions;
  • microbial biology;
  • species interactions

The ascomycete class Pezizomycetes (single order Pezizales) is known for its cup-shaped fruit bodies and the evolution of edible truffles and morels, but little is known about the ontogeny and ecology of this large and ecologically diverse fungal group. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Healy et al. (2013) make a great leap forward by describing and identifying asexual, anamorphic structures that produce mitotic spores in many ectomycorrhiza-forming truffle and nontruffle species on soil surfaces worldwide (Fig. 1). Although such anamorphic forms have been reported sporadically from certain ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic Pezizomycetes (e.g. Warcup 1990), Healy et al. (2013) demonstrate that these terricolous asexual forms are both taxonomically and geographically more widespread and, in fact, much more common than previously understood. We anticipate that deeper insight into other substrates, provided by molecular analyses of materials such as dead wood and seeds, is likely to reveal numerous anamorphs of saprotrophic and pathogenic Pezizomycetes as well (see Marek et al. 2009).