Phylogenetic trees of 16 Claviceps species were constructed based on alignments of 5.8S rDNA and the adjacent ITS1 and ITS2
spacers. Two highly supported clades were found: (1) C. paspali, C. zizaniae, C. grohii, C. sulcata, C. fusiformis, and C. purpurea; and
(2) C. citrina, C. phalaridis, two unidentified Claviceps spp. (isolates PM and SG), C. sorghicola, C. gigantea, C. sorghi, C. africana, C.
viridis, and C. pusilla. No relationship was found between the species placement and its morphological markers. The probe from C.
purpurea gene cpd1 for dimethylallyl tryptophan synthase, the first enzyme of alkaloid biosynthesis, was hybridized to Pst I digested
genomes of the above species under non-stringent conditions. Hybridizing DNA was present in all species of clade 1, although the
signal of the C. paspali gene was weaker. In clade 2, only C. africana, C. gigantea, and C. pusilla gave weak positive signals.
Colorimetric detection found small amounts of alkaloids in cultures of Claviceps sp. SG and PM but despite that, no cpd1 hybridizing
bands were found. The occurrence of two major clades of Claviceps and their biogeography suggests, that the genus originates from
South America and that the evolution of its species was influenced by comigration with their hosts and with the global climatic
changes that influenced spreading of grass subfamilies.