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Welcome to Maine Chytrid Laboratory

Welcome to the Longcore Laboratory’s chytrid information site. The Phylum Chytridiomycota (chytrids) is an early diverging lineage in the fungal kingdom and, with few exceptions, chytrids form uniflagellated reproductive cells (zoospores). Until recently, all zoosporic eufungi were classified in the Chytridiomycota, however, advances in molecular phylogenetics supported the elevation of the Order Blastocladiales (e.g., Allomyces, Catenaria, Blastocladiella) to the Blastocladiomycota. The mammalian gut fungi are now also classified in a separate phylum, the Neocallimastigomycota. Molecular evidence suggests that some zoospore producing Olpidium species are more closely allied to members of the Zygomycota; Rozella species seem to be basal to the Chytridiomycota and are classified in the Phylum Cryptomycota (Rozellida).

I maintain a culture collection of diverse chytrids and blastoclads, study their systematics and taxonomy and provide them to others for teaching and research. Chytrids and their allies are microscopic and are found by placing small bits of organic matter (baits) into water samples or into a small soil sample flooded with water. Once found by examining the baits microscopically,  fungi are isolated into pure culture.We can then monitor development with the light microscope, observe zoospores with transmission electron microscopy and construct phylogenetic trees with information obtained from ribosomal DNA or other genomic regions.

The last inclusive monograph of the zoosporic fungi was published by F.K. Sparrow in 1960. To facilitate searches for taxonomic changes since that time, I include a chytrid bibliography containing information on new taxa published since 1960.  Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a pathogen of amphibians and has brought notoriety to the chytrids because of its deadly effects on some amphian species and populations. I have included directions for how to isolate and maintain this fungus as well as photographs to aid in identification.