Many fungal genera have been defined based on single characters considered to be informative at the generic level. In addition, many unrelated taxa have been aggregated in genera because they shared apparently similar morphological characters arising from adaptation to similar niches and convergent evolution. This problem
is aptly illustrated in Mycosphaerella. In its broadest definition, this genus of mainly leaf infecting fungi incorporates more than 30 form genera that share similar phenotypic characters mostly associated with structures produced on
plant tissue or in culture. DNA sequence data derived from the LSU gene in the present study distinguish several clades and families in what has hitherto been considered to represent the Mycosphaerellaceae. In some cases, these clades represent recognisable monophyletic lineages linked to well circumscribed anamorphs. This association is complicated, however, by the fact that morphologically similar form genera are scattered throughout the order (Capnodiales), and for some species more than one morph is expressed depending on cultural conditions and media employed for cultivation. The present study shows that Mycosphaerella s.s. should best be limited to taxa with Ramularia anamorphs, with other well defined clades in the Mycosphaerellaceae representing Cercospora, Cercosporella, Dothistroma, Lecanosticta, Phaeophleospora, Polythrincium, Pseudocercospora, Ramulispora,
Septoria and Sonderhenia. The genus Teratosphaeria accommodates taxa with Kirramyces anamorphs, while other clades supported in the Teratosphaeriaceae include Baudoinea, Capnobotryella, Devriesia, Penidiella, Phaeothecoidea, Readeriella, Staninwardia and Stenella. The genus Schizothyrium with Zygophiala anamorphs is supported as belonging to the Schizothyriaceae, while Dissoconium and Ramichloridium appear to represent a distinct family. Several clades remain unresolved due to limited sampling. Mycosphaerella, which has hitherto been used as a term of convenience to describe ascomycetes with solitary ascomata, bitunicate asci and 1-septate ascospores,
represents numerous genera and several families yet to be defined in future studies.