New Species and Emendations of Orphella: Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Reassessment of the Genus to Establish the Orphellales, for Stonefly Gut Fungi with a Twist

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We consolidate and present data for the sexual stages of five North American species of Orphella, fungal members of trichomycetes previously classified within Harpellales. Three species emendations accommodate the newly recognized characters, including not only the coiled zygospores and accompanying cells but also other morphological traits not provided in the original descriptions for O. avalonensis, O. haysii, and O. hiemalis. We describe three new species, Orphella cataloochensis from both the Smoky Mountains in USA and two provinces in Canada as well as O. pseudoavalonensis and O. pseudohiemalis, both from the Cascade Range, in Oregon, USA. Key morphological features for all known species are summarized and reviewed, with illustrations of some of the North American taxa to update and supplement the literature. The entire suite of morphological characters is discussed, with emphasis on species relationships and hypotheses on possible vicariant origins. We also present a molecular phylogeny based on nuc rDNA 18S and 28S, which supports Orphella as a lineage distinct from Harpellales, and we establish a new order, Orphellales, for it. With the combination of sexual features, now known for 12 of the 14 species of Orphella, and new molecular data, the group is now better characterized, facilitating and hopefully also promoting future studies toward a better understanding of their relationships, origins, and evolutionary history as stonefly gut–dwelling fungi.


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