Home • Piptocephalis tieghemiana RSA 1565 v1.0
Piptocephalis tieghemiana sporophores (a), merosporangia (b) and zygospores (c). Images by Jerry Benny.
Piptocephalis tieghemiana sporophores (a), merosporangia (b) and zygospores (c). Images by Jerry Benny.

Piptocephalis tieghemiana is an obligate mycoparasite that attacks fungi in the Mucorales.  It is related to other mycoparasitic and microinvertebrate-associated fungi in the subphylum Zoopagomycotina.  This species has a cosmopolitan distribution and can be grown from soil or herbivore dung substrates.  Like other members of the genus Piptocephalis, P. tieghemiana produces spores in cylindrical, linear sporangia called merosporangia.  The merosporangia are formed on deciduous head cells at the apex of the dichotomously branched sporophores. Piptocephalis species penetrate their host with specialized, branched hyphae called haustoria.  The sporophores of P. tieghemiana are aerial and relatively tall (near 1 mm), making the parasite easier to spot on a culture plate than some smaller mycoparasites. The spores of P. tieghemiana remain dry at maturity. Features of the merosporangia and sporophores are variable among isolates of P. tieghemiana, but the morphology of the zygospores (sexual spores) provides more reliable characters for identification.  This species is reported to be homothallic which means that it does not require a partner of another mating type to produce zygospores.

While Piptocephalis cylindrospora RSA 2659 has been sequenced using single-cell methods, Piptocephalis tieghemiana strain RSA 1565 was grown in co-culture on the host Umbelopsis sp. strain AD052, for which the genome has been sequenced. The reference genome for the host fungus allowed the separation of host and parasite sequences from a mixed sample thereby providing a higher quantity of parasite DNA than can be achieved with single cell methods.