Peronosporaceae are a group of endophytic parasites - about ioo species - of great importance as comprising the agents of "damping off" disease (Pythium), vine-mildew (Plasmopara), potato disease (Phytophthora), onion-mildew (Peronospora).
Such obligate parasites may be epiphytic (Erysipheae), the mycelium remaining on the outside and at most merely sending haustoria into the epidermal cells, or endophytic (Uredineae, Ustilagineae, &c.), when the mycelium is entirely inside the organs of the host.
Endophytic parasites may be intracellular, when the fungus or its mycelium plunges into the cells and destroys their contents directly (Olpidium, Lagenidium, Sclerotinia, &c.), but they are far more frequently intercellular, at any rate while young, the mycelium growing in the lacunae between the cells (Peronospora, Uredineae) into which it may send short (Cystopus), or long and branched (Peronospora Calotheca) haustoria, or it extends in the middle lamella (Ustilago), or even in the solid substance of the cell-wall (Botrytis).
In both Psilotum and Tmesipteris the functions of the root-system, which is completely absent, are performed by leafless rhizomes bearing absorbent hairs and inhabited by an endophytic fungus.
All the saprophytic prothalli contain an endophytic fungus in definite layers of their tissue.