Ergot species of the Claviceps purpurea group from South Africa.
Results of a survey and study of the Claviceps purpurea group of species in South Africa are being presented and five new species are described. Morphological descriptions are based on the anamorphs and four nuclear genetic loci. Claviceps fimbristylidis sp. nov. on Fimbristylis complanata was discovered wide-spread across five provinces of the country associated with water and represents the fourth Claviceps species recorded from the Cyperaceae. Claviceps monticola sp. nov. is described from Brachypodium flexum growing in mountain forests in Mpumalanga Province, as well as the northern Drakensberg southwards into the Eastern Cape Province. Claviceps pazoutovae sp. nov. is recorded from Stipa dregeana var. dregeana and Ehrharta erecta var. erecta, also associated with these mountain ranges. Claviceps macroura sp. nov. is recorded from Cenchrus macrourus from the Eastern Cape and Claviceps capensis sp. nov. from Ehrharta villosa var. villosa is recorded from the Western Cape Province. Claviceps cyperi, only recorded from South Africa is included in the study. Ergot alkaloid profiles of all species are provided and showed similarity to C. purpurea. Only C. cyperi and in lesser degree C. capensis, C. macroura, and C. pazoutovae produced ergot alkaloids in clinically significant amounts. Several reported species infect invasive grass species, native to South Africa, and thus represent potentially invasive species.