Parsimony, maximum-likelihood and Bayesian analyses of SSU rDNA sequences of representative Laxa of Pezizomycetes, Eurotiomycetes, Dothideomycetes. Leotiomycetes and Sordariomycetes, all strongly support the cleistothecial fungi Orbicula parietina and Lasiobolidium. orbiculoides to be of pezizalean origin. Previous hypotheses of close affinities with cleistothecial Or highly reduced fungi now placed in the Thelebolales, Eurotiales or Onygenales are rejected. Orbicula parietina and L. orbiculoides are deeply nested within Pyronemataceae (which subsumes the families Ascodesmidaceae, Glaziellaceae and Otideaceac). LSU rDNA sequences suggest that Orbicula is nested within the apothecia-forming genus Pseudombrophila (including Nannfeldtiella and Fimaria) and that L. orbiculoides is closely related. Ascodesmis and Lasiobolus, which have been suggested as closely related to Orbicula and Lasiobolidium, are identified as a sister lineage to the Pseudombrophila lineage. Cleistothecial forms that have lost the ascus operculum and ability to discharge spores actively have evolved at least once in the Pseudombrophila lineage. Some species of Pseudombrophila produce subglobular ascomata initials that are closed early in development and open only in the mid-mesohymenial phase. We hypothesize that, in the Pseudombrophila, lineage, ascomata forms that never open are derived from ascomata that open late in development. The placement of O. parietina and L. orbiculoides within Pseudombrophila is supported by morphological characters, ecology and temperature optima for fruiting.
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