Welcome to the Longcore Laboratory’s chytrid information site. The Phylum Chytridiomycota (chytrids) is an early diverging lineage in the fungal kingdom. With a 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, many of which produce multiflagellate zoospores, have also been classified in a separate phylum, the Neocallimastigomycota. Rozella species are basal to the Chytridiomycota and are classified in the Phylum Cryptomycota (Rozellida). In contrast, molecular evidence suggests that some zoospore-producing Olpidium species may be allied with members of the Zoopagomycota.
The last inclusive monograph of the zoosporic fungi was published by F.K. Sparrow in 1960. At that time zoosporic eufungi were classified in the Chytridiales, Monoblepharidales and Blastocladiales; now fungi that were considered in 1960 to be in the Chytridiales are classified in 13 orders. To facilitate searches for taxonomic changes, I include a bibliography containing information on new taxa and taxonomic changes for the zoosporic eufungi published since 1960.
Cultures of zoosporic fungi are available for teaching and research. The frozen collection containing isolates from both the University of Alabama’s Powell and Letcher lab and the University of Maine’s Longcore lab are now at CZEUM (Collection of Zoosporic Eufungi at the University of Michigan; https://czeum.herb.lsa.umich.edu/).
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. They can also be found by directly observing algae. Once found by examining the baits or algae microscopically, many fungi can be isolated into pure culture. Pure cultures of zoosporic fungi can be monitored and photographed, zoospores can be collected for transmission electron microscopy, and DNA can be amplified and analyzed to construct phylogenetic hypotheses.
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and B. salamandrivorans (Bsal) are pathogens of amphibians and have brought notoriety to the chytrids because of their deadly effects on many amphibian species and populations. Included on this site are directions for how to isolate and maintain B. dendrobatidis as well as photographs to aid in identification.