The Myxomycetes are a major component of soil amoebae, displaying a complex life cycle that terminates in the formation of often macroscopic fruiting bodies. The classification of Myxomycetes is controversial and strongly depends on the weight given by different authors to morphological and developmental characters. We used a molecular approach to establish the phylogenetic relationships in the dark-spored orders Stemonitales and Physarales. Twenty-five small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequences were obtained, with focus on two Stemonitales genera, Lamproderma and Comatricha. Unexpectedly, our results show that Stemonitales are paraphyletic with Physarales arising from within a Lamproderma clade. The genus Lamproderma itself is polyphyletic and can be divided into two distinct clades. Additionally, we found that Comatricha nigricapillitia comprises two cryptic species, both related to Enerthenema. Our study allows the reappraisal of morphological and developmental characters in the light of molecular data and sets foundations for a new classification of Myxomycetes.
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