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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Sep 1;86(1-2):61-78.

Evaluation of ribosomal RNA and actin gene sequences for the identification of ascomycetous yeasts.

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Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Molecular Mycology Laboratory, Westmead Hospital, ICPMR, Level 3, Room 3114A, Darcy Road, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia.


Highly similar gene sequences of the 5' region of the large subunit (LSU) are commonly interpreted to predict the organism's identity. However, it was recognised that closely related taxa do not always show sufficiently diverged D1/D2 LSU sequences to differentiate between them. The effectiveness of species separation using D1/D2 LSU sequences, small subunit (SSU) sequences and actin gene sequences was determined by pair-wise comparisons. The LSU data showed coinciding similarities among and within species. The actin data resolved all investigated species. Examples strengthened the value of almost complete SSU sequences for species separation. The larger number of differences in the highly conserved actin gene, compared to the overall more variable LSU gene, is due to the tolerance of protein coding genes to synonymous nucleotide changes. In contrast, the pairing in secondary structures of the rRNA, ensuring the functionality of the molecule, relies on longer and uninterrupted sequence sections. In conclusion, D1/D2 LSU sequences are not specific enough to identify closely related taxa. The actin gene is a better marker in these cases. However, because of the availability of a large database of fungal D1/D2 LSU sequences, this gene region is currently still the preferred target for sequence-based identification.

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