The ascomycetes, the spore sac fungi, are accommodated in the phylum Ascomycota, the largest of the seven phyla of the true fungi with more than 60 000 species. Many are saprobes; others are parasites or live in symbiosis with other organisms. A majority of the lichens are ascomycetes. The ascomycetes are of great economic importance as decomposers of dead material, parasites on crops, producers of antibiotics and other industrial products in food production (bread, beer, wine, etc.).

Keywords: ascomycetes; morphology; phylogeny; subphyla; classes; economic importance

Figure 1.

Apothecia of Neolecta vitellina (Neolectomycetes). Photo: Nada and Zelimir Lipovac.

Figure 2.

Apothecia of Sarcoscypha austriaca (Leotiomycetes). Photo: Nada and Zelimir Lipovac.

Figure 3.

Perithecia of Hypocreopsis riccioidea (Sordariomycetes), immersed in a stroma (only the uppermost parts are visible as small black dots). Photo: Nada and Zelimir Lipovac.

Figure 4.

Cleistothecia of Elaphomyces aculeatus (Eurotiomycetes). Photo: Johan Nitare.



Bridge PD, Arora DK and Elander RP (eds) (1998) Applications of PCR in Mycology. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing.

Demain AL, Phaff HJ and Kurtzman CP (1998) The industrial and agricultural significance of yeasts. In: Kurtzman CP and Fell JW (eds) The Yeasts. A Taxonomic Study. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Dix NJ and Webster J (1995) Fungal Ecology. London: Chapman & Hall.

Eriksson OE (1981) The families of bitunicate ascomycetes. Opera Botanica 60: 1–220.

Hibbett DS, Binder M, Bischoff JF et al. (2007) A higher‐level phylogenetic classification of the Fungi. Mycological Research 111: 509–547.

de Hoog GS, Guarro J, Gené J and Figueras MJ (eds) (2000) Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd edn. Baarn & Reus: CBS & Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

Rai M and Bridge PD (2009) Applied Mycology. Wallingford, OX: CAB International.

Further Reading

Agrios GN (1997) Plant Pathology. San Diego: Academic Press.

Alexopoulos CJ, Mims CW and Blackwell M (1996) Introductory Mycology, 4th edn. New York: Wiley.

Cannon P and Kirk P (2008) Fungal Families of the World. CAB International.

GenBank : Entrez [].

Gravesen S, Frisvad J and Samson RA (1994) Microfungi. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.

Khasa DP, Piché Y and Coughlin AP (2009) Advances in Mycorrhizal Science and Technology. Wallingford, OX: CAB International.

Kirk PM, Cannon PF, Minter DW and Stalpers JA (eds) (2008) Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi, 10th edn. Wallingford, OX: CAB International.

Kurtzman CP and Fell JW (1998) The Yeasts. A Taxonomic Study. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Mycological resources [].

Myconet [].

Mycoses [‐7407&site=1]

Phylogeny programs [].

Pitt JI and Hocking AD (1997) Fungi and Food Spoilage, 2nd edn. London: Blackie Academic & Professional.

Priest FG and Campbell I (2002) Brewing Microbiology, 3rd edn. Springer.

Samson RA, Hoekstra ES, Frisvad JC and Filtenborg O (eds) (2002) Introduction to Food‐ and Airborne Fungi (revised 6th edn). Utrecht, The Netherlands: Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures.

SBML database [http://NT.ars‐].

Singh J (ed.) (1994) Building Mycology. Management of Decay and Health in Buildings. London: E & FN Spon.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Eriksson, Ove E(Dec 2009) Ascomycota. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000346.pub2]