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Taitaia, a novel lichenicolous fungus in tropical montane forests in Kenya (East Africa)

  • Ave SUIJA (a1), Ulla KAASALAINEN (a2) (a3), Paul Muigai KIRIKA (a3) and Jouko RIKKINEN (a2) (a4)

During lichenological explorations of tropical montane forests in Kenya, a remarkable new lichenicolous fungus was repeatedly found growing on thalli of the epiphytic tripartite cyanolichen Crocodia cf. clathrata. Molecular phylogenetic analyses placed the fungus within Gomphillaceae (Ostropales, Lecanoromycetes), a family mainly of lichen-symbiotic species in the tropics. The anatomical features (unitunicate, non-amyloid asci and simple, septate paraphyses) as well as the hemiangiocarpic ascoma development confirm its taxonomic affinity. DNA sequence data showed the closest relationship was with Gyalidea fritzei, followed by Corticifraga peltigerae. A monotypic genus, Taitaia, is introduced to incorporate a single species, T. aurea. The new fungus is characterized by aggregated ascomata with yellow margins and salmon red discs developing from a single base.

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The Lichenologist
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