Mundkurella japonica is a host specific smut fungus which produces a systemic infection on Kalopanax septemlobus (Araliaceae) (Vánky 1990; Denchev & Kakishima 2007). It possesses well visible sori. Mundkurella japonica is known only from 5 localities in Japan, although its host plant is one of the most widespread temperate tree species in East Asia (distributed in Far East of Russia, Sakhalin, South Kuriles, Japan, Korean Peninsula, and China). A contemporary large scale study of Kalopanax septemlobus, comprising 75 localities in Japan, Korean Peninsula, and China (including 46 Japanese localities), did not yield observation of that smut fungus (Sakaguchi, pers. comm.).
Preliminary red-list assessment: NT B2a (Near Threatened)
Mundkurella japonica is an obvious rare parasitic fungus despite a common and widely distributed host. It has without success been much searched for. It is red-listed as NT because it fulfills B-criterion using AOO. This species almost meets VU B2 [it meets AOO (area of occupancy estimated not to exceed 2000 km2), subcriterion a (number of locations ≤ 10), but not subcriteria b and/or c].
This species is known to date only from 5 localities in Japan (three from Hokkaido and two from Honshu) (Denchev & Kakishima 2007; Denchev et al. unpubl.) while the host plant, Kalopanax septemlobus, is one of the most widespread temperate tree species in East Asia (distributed in Far East of Russia, Sakhalin, South Kuriles, Japan, Korean Peninsula, and China).
There is no specific information on population size or trends.
Population Trend: Uncertain
The sori of this fungus develop in the fruits of Kalopanax septemlobus (Araliaceae), destroying the endosperm and embryo, or in the cluster of compound umbel, producing considerable swellings. The fungus is host-specific and depends on its host plant.
The host plant is used for timber and medicinal purposes (used in traditional medicine for treating neuralgia, rheumatic arthritis, lumbago, furuncle, carbuncle, wound, diarrhea, and scabies) (Lee and Kang 2002). Bioactive compounds from leaves, stem bark, and roots are reported for medicinal uses (e.g., as anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatoid, and anti-fungal) (Lee and Kang 2002).
The known localities of this smut fungus are not included in protected areas. The individual host trees on which the fungus is located need to be protected. Ex situ conservation of the plant will not necessarily protect the fungus: in situ conservation is needed.
Further information is needed about population levels and potential threats for the fungus.
Denchev, C.M. and Kakishima, M. 2007. Notes on some Japanese smut fungi. IV. Mundkurella japonica, sp. nov. Mycotaxon 102: 9–16.
Lee, D.K. and Kang, H.-S. 2002. Distribution of Kalopanax septemlobus and its growth in Northeast Asia. Eurasian Journal of Forest Research 5: 85-94.
Vánky, K. 1990. The genus Mundkurella (Ustilaginales). Mycological Research 94: 269–273.
Denchev, C.M., Dahlberg, A. & Denchev, T.T. 2015. Mundkurella japonica Denchev & Kakish. In: The Global Fungal Red List Initiative. http://iucn.ekoo.se/iucn/species_view/511034/.