Two major subgroups occur within the class Basidiomycetes. The subclass Homobasidiomycetidae comprises mushrooms, bracket fungi, and puffballs. The spores of these organisms constitute a significant portion of the spores found in the air during nocturnal periods and wet weather. These abundant spores are confirmed to be allergenic (134,145,146) and can provoke bronchoconstriction in sensitive asthmatic subjects (14.7). Numerous species, including Pleurotus ostreatus, Cantharellus cibarius, Clavata cyanthiformis, Geaster saccatum, Pisolithus tinctorius, Scleroderma aerolatum, Ganoderma lucidum, Psilocybe cubensis, Agaricus, Armillaria, and Hypholoma species, and Merulisus lacrymans ("dry rot") have been identified as allergens.
The Heterobasidiomycetidae include the rusts (Uredinales), smuts (Ustilaginales), and jelly fungi. The Ustilaginales and Uredinales are plant parasites of enormous agricultural importance and may cause allergy where cereal grains are grown or in the vicinity of granaries. Rust spores are encountered primarily by agricultural workers, whereas smut spores can be identified in urban areas surrounded by areas of extensive cultivation. Among the important allergenic species are Ustilago, Urocystis, and Tilletia species.
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