RIDLEYG at fri.cri.nz
RIDLEYG at fri.cri.nz
Wed Feb 19 15:56:03 EST 1997
When I was an undergraduate in the last years of the 70s and beginning
of the 80s I was taught mycology by what I would describe now as a
very conservative plant pathologist. It was typical of what much of
undergraduate teaching, simply the rote learning of names and facts.
It was not until I was a postgraduate that I discovered that the
sciences, including mycology, were in ferment. My time of entry into
mycology saw the publishing of the 'Whole Fungus', a new addition of
the 'Dictionary of Fungi' and Eriksson's revisions of the bitunicate
Ascomycetes. New ideas that never saw the light of day in our
undergraduate course. In my own way I took most of this on board and
over one small word I made a personal stand. The word was conidium and
I rejected it. My reasoning was that the propagule was a spore
therefore it should be called a spore, just as occurred in the
basidiomycetes with basidiospore, and the ascomycetes with ascospores,
I felt that in the Fungi Imperfecti/Deuteromycetes that these
propagules should be called conidiospores for consistency. I know do
not remember if I came to this conclusion independently or took my
lead from my undergraduate text 'Introduction to Fungi' by John
Webster (2nd ed, 1980, p.89) where he says "Conidiospores, commonly
known as conidia, are asexual reproductive structures." So since then
I have simply substituted conidiospore for conidium.
Recently I have prepared a couple of description of newly recorded
fungi for New Zealand and used the term conidiospore and these have
gone through referring and have been published. However, the latest in
the series has been returned by a referee with conidiospore crossed
out and conidium substituted and with the comment that conidiospore is
a "neologism" not recognised in "Ainsworth and Bisby's Dictionary of
Fungi" and that it was superfluous because it replaced the well
established mycological term conidium. This sent me scurrying to the
"Dictionary" and sure enough in the 8th edition (1995) there was no
sign of conidiospore, nor for that matter in the 7th (1983). However
it was in the 6th (1971) and in the 2nd (1945). It was also in Snell
and Dick's "A Glossary of Mycology" both the 1st (1957) and in the
revised ed (1971). So it would appear that with the publication of the
7th edition in 1983 conidiospore was expunged from the language.
But my difficulty with conidium still exists. We can for instance
describe an asexual spore ontogenetically as a thallospore and
morphologically as a amerospore - we just do not call it a spore.
With the general acceptance of conidium a series of back formed words
have been brought into existence. Thus a conidium is produced by a
conidiogenous cell which may be supported on a conidiophore or housed
in a conidioma. The next logical step would seem, to me at least, to
replace the term Fungi Imperfecti or Deuteromycete with Conidiomycete
or Conidial Fungi. But again the Dictionary appears to be setting the
lead by grouping these anamorphic fungi in the "Mitosporic Fungi".
Thus a conidium is a mitospore which is correct just that mitospore is
a very old word.
So my options are:
1. Accept the status quo, ie conidium/ conidiogenous cell/
conidiophore / conidioma/ Mitosporic Fungi
2. Simple continue to substitute conidiospore for conidium on the
bases that it is an existing word.
3. Use conidiospore but try and bring the other terms into line eg a
conidiospore must be produced on a conidiosporous cell which may be
supported by a conidiosporophore or housed in a condiosporoma.
4. Accept the cytologically correct name of mitospore and substitute
it for conidium thus mitospore/ conidiogenous cell/ conidiophore /
conidioma/ Mitosporic Fungi.
5. Accept mitospore but dump all the conidio prefixes in favour of
older more neutral term eg mitospore/ sporogenous cell/ sporophore/
fruitbody or fructification/ Mitosporic Fungi.
6. Accept mitospore and Mitosporic Fungi but bring all the terms into
line with the prefix mito, thus mitospore/ mitosporogenous cell/
mitosporophore/ mitoma/ Mitosporic fungi. This would also bring it in
to line with the ascomycetes and basidiomycetes
ie ascospore/ ascus/ ascogenous cell/ ascoma/ Ascomycota
and basidiospore/ basidium/ basidioma/ Basidiomycota
I would like to hear discussion on this. I do not claim to be an
expert here but I often feel that when it comes to language we chuck
scientific logic out of the window for supposed historical usage and
stability. This results in terminology that has to be rote learned as
opposed to being derived eg conidium only means dust but mitospore
means a spore produced by mitosis. Thus the language becomes a
password by which you enter the secret scientific world rather than as
keys to knowledge.
Dr Geoff Ridley
Mycologist/ Forest Pathologist
New Zealand Forest Research Institute
Private Bag 3020
Rotorua, New Zealand
e-mail: ridleyg at fri.cri.nz
Phone: +64 7 347 5899
Fax: +64 7 374 5333
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