Submitted to: Tropical Mycology
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Fungi occurring in tropical regions are relatively unknown and difficult to identify despite their conspicuous presence. Hypocrealean fungi that have been called Nectria exist in the tropics as plant pathogens, insect biocontrol agents, and organic decomposers, thus it is important to be able to identify them. Following a new classification system for this group of fungi, many of the scientific names of nectria-like fungi have changed. In addition, no comprehensive key to the species exists. This paper presents a key to about 120 species of nectria-like fungi based on morphological characteristics of the ascomycete state. For each species a reference is included to a recently published description. Although emphasis is on species that are known from the Neotropics, many species are pantropical. This key will be used by scientists, plant pathologists, extension agents and foresters to identify these fungi throughout the world.
Technical Abstract: Fungi historically identified as Nectria are a conspicuous element of the tropical biota. The sexual fruiting bodies of these hypocrealean ascomycetes are primarily light- to bright-colored, uniloculate perithecia that can occur singly on decaying leaves or in masses of bright-red or orange aggregations bursting through the bark of recently dead trees. The fungi may colonize the plant substrata in various ways, e.g. via the soil or their roots and possibly long before fruiting bodies are formed. As invaders, endophytes, plant-pathogens, or saprotrophs, they play important ecological roles. In addition to decaying woody and herbaceous debris, nectria-like fungi occur on insects, pyrenomycetous stromata and other ascomycetes, lichens, basidiomycetous fungi and living leaves. Until recently the genus Nectria included over 1,000 species described over a period of one-hundred or more years, most of which have not been characterized in the modern sense. In a comprehensive account of three major families of the Hypocreales many of these species described in Nectria were placed in segregate genera in the two families, Bionectriaceae and Nectriaceae. This key includes about 120 species of Nectria and nectria-like fungi that occur commonly in the tropical regions. Reference is given to a recently published complete description that can be used to confirm the identification.