This year I published a paper with James Lendemer (Lendemer & Hodkinson 2013) in which we established a new order of fungi, Leprocaulales, for a group of sterile crustose lichens. We first found that the species in the genera Lepraria and Leprocaulon were all shuffled up (they got this way due to their similar appearance), but we were able to sort them properly using molecular data. It then became apparent, after further analyses, that the Leprocaulon clade is actually quite distantly related to other known groups of fungi (and is not even close to Lepraria), so we gave it a new family (Leprocaulaceae) and new order (Leprocaulales). One really interesting aspect of this work is that it revealed to us that both groups (Lepraria and Leprocaulon) had crustose and fruticose growth forms within them. This shows that growth form is more plastic than most of us had probably suspected, and that an entirely new growth form can evolve in fungi on a very short time scale!
Lendemer, J. C., and B. P. Hodkinson. 2013. A radical shift in the taxonomy of Lepraria s.l.: molecular and morphological studies shed new light on the evolution of asexuality and lichen growth form diversification. Mycologia 105: 994-1018.
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