Mycological Progress

, Volume 18, Issue 1–2, pp 305–312 | Cite as

Sex does not sell: the argument for using the terms “anamorph” and “teleomorph” for fungi

  • Roland KirschnerEmail author


Using the adequate morph terminology is an important tool for describing the different stages of fungi with their often hidden and flexible sexual processes. These processes play significant roles in the evolution and spread of pathogenic fungi as well as their antifungal resistance. Their knowledge is also the base for control of human and plant pathogenic fungi as well as strain improvement in biotechnology. Among all organisms, the heterokaryotic stage, i.e., the intermediate stage between plasmogamy and karyogamy is unique for Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. These fungi show a high flexibility of sexuality by the gradual reduction of sexual processes in the teleomorphs and the occurrence of genetic recombination processes in the anamorphs. Our lack of knowledge about such details of development in most species of fungi justifies maintaining the unique morph terms “anamorph” and “teleomorph” in mycology instead of an incorrectly simplified application of the ontogenetic terms “asexual” and “sexual.”


Apomixis Autogamy Dikarya Horizontal chromosome transfer Nomenclature Parthenogamy Pezizales Phylogeography Spermatization 



The author is much indebted to great mycological teachers Franz Oberwinkler, Walter Gams, and Meike Piepenbring by their setting examples of uniting highest scientific accuracy with the needs of teaching. Walter Gams taught me that the original gender of the terms anamorph and teleomorph was female which has to be applied correctly in German grammar, thus, e.g., “die Anamorphe” (singular). A few months before his death, he confirmed to me his concern about the tendency to suppress these terms and expressed his preference for them. Tom May is thanked for the information about the actual stage of the Code. Insights into the horizontal chromosome transfer were possible by joining the FEMS congress in 2011 supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (NSC 100-2621-B-008-001-MY3). The author is very grateful to the editors of the special issue for providing the space for this opinion dealing with a matter which is not much important in itself, but only by the need of defending a little piece of scientific freedom and thinking. Three anonymous reviewers are particularly thanked for their constructive and highly inspiring suggestions, which considerably improved the message of this text.


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Copyright information

© German Mycological Society and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Sciences & EngineeringNational Central UniversityTaoyuan CityTaiwan

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