Massariaceae Nitschke, Verh. Naturh. Ver. preusss. Rheinl. 26: 73 (1869).

MycoBank number: MB 80978; Index Fungorum number: IF 80978; Facesoffungi number: FoF 06427, 52 species.

Saprobic or weakly parasitic on terrestrial corticated branches of their hosts or recently dead branches still attached to the trees or on recently fallen branches confined to northern temperate climatic regions. Colonies hyphal or meristematic, hard, spongy, extremely slow growing, culture with black reverse; meristematic colonies with masses of globose, subhyaline to brownish cells. Hyphae hyaline to subhyaline, frequently branching, for hyphal colonies; hyphae of meristematic colonies if present short, torulose. Sexual morph: Ascomata pseudothecial, scattered or clustered in groups, globose, subglobose, pyriform to strongly depressed, immersed in bark or occasionally in outer most wood layer, and embedded in pseudostromatic tissues intermixed substrate cells forming pallid areas often surrounded by blackened zones, often clypeate and ostiolate. Ostiole central or eccentric, short or long, solitary or converging in groups, greyish, whitish, rosy or yellow in median vertical section, projecting through the bark, stout papillate, rounded with rounded pore, with erumpent apex and often surmounted by peaks of stromatic tissues that form coarsely sulcate tips above the bark surface. Peridium thick, firm, opaque, composed of numerous layers of thin-walled, smooth, externally darkly pigmented, compressed angular cells with paler inwards. Hamathecium comprising numerous persistent, indistinctly septate, branching and anastomosing, cellular or trabeculate pseudoparaphyses, 1 µm wide in the upper part and up to 4 µm wide in the peripheral regions of the ascoma, embedded in a gelatinous matrix. Asci 4–8-spored, thick-walled, bitunicate, fissitunicate, basal and peripheral, oblong, cylindrical or fusoid, less commonly saccate, pedicellate with apically wide ocular chamber and refractive rings. Ascospores 1–3-seriate, large, oblong, cylindrical, ellipsoid or fusoid,  rounded or tapered towards subacute ends, straight or slightly inequilateral, hyaline or light to dark brown, always brown after ejection, symmetric, biconoid and symmetrically 1-euseptate initially, becoming 3-disto- and euseptate, not or slightly constricted at the septa, secondary septa closer to primary septum than to ends of ascospore, smooth- and thick- walled, surrounded by a mucilaginous sheath, lumina rhomboid or lenticular in the central cells, conoid in the end cells. Asexual morph: Coelomycetous where known. Conidiophores cylindrical to ampulliform. Conidia small, irregularly subglobose to ellipsoidal, hyaline, aseptate.

TypeMassaria De Not.

Notes – As suggested by Barr (1979b, 1990c), Eriksson (1981) and Kruys et al. (2006) treated Massariaceae as including Trypetheliaceae due to the morphological similarities between the two families. However, Harris (1986, 1989) questioned this synonymy stating that Massariaceae is more primitive than Trypetheliaceae. Similarly, Eriksson (1989) and Aptroot (1991) maintained Massariaceae distinct from Trypetheliaceae, consisting of only two genera Decaisnella and Massaria and placed within order Pyrenulales. Schoch et al. (2009a) showed Trypetheliaceae is phylogenetically different from Massaria and re-introduced in Trypetheliales outside of Dothideomycetidae. Barr (1990c) classified Massariaceae in Melanommatales, which was later relocated as Melanommataceae, Pleosporales by Schoch et al. (2006, 2009a) using molecular phylogeny. This family has been subjected to many critical revisions during the past and all of the genera except for Massaria have been transferred to many other families including Aigialaceae and Zopfiaceae (Barr 1979b, 1990c, Eriksson 1981, Schoch et al. 2006, 2009a, Suetrong et al. 2009). Lumbsch & Huhndorf (2010) accepted four genera in Massariaceae which were excluded during later studies. Hyde et al. (2013) accepted Massaria as the only genus in Massariaceae. The family was placed as a monophyletic family basal in the Pleosporales using four gene combined phylogenetic analysis. Neomassaria was introduced as a new genus in Massariaceae based on combined LSU, SSU and tef1 sequence data (Hyde et al. 2016). This was followed by Wijayawardene et al. (2017a, 2018). However, Ariyawansa et al. (2018a) relocated Neomassaria into a new family Neomassariaceae based on LSU, rpb-2, SSU and tef1 combined phylogeny and several morphological differences. Massarioramusculicola was introduced into the family using morphology and molecular phylogeny (Huanraluek et al. 2018).