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Mycol Res. 2005 Feb;109(Pt 2):173-86.

Phylogeny and toxigenic potential is correlated in Fusarium species as revealed by partial translation elongation factor 1 alpha gene sequences.

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  • 1Section of Food and Feed Microbiology, National Veterinary Institute, N-0033 Oslo, Norway.


Partial translation elongation factor 1 alpha (TEF-1alpha) gene and intron sequences are reported from 148 isolates of 11 species of the anamorph genus Fusarium; F. avenaceum (syn. F. arthrosporioides), F. cerealis, F. culmorum, F. equiseti, F.flocciferum, F. graminearum, F. lunulosporum, F. sambucinum, F. torulosum, F. tricinctum and F. venenatum. The sequences were aligned with TEF-1alpha sequences retrieved from 35 isolates of F. kyushuense, F. langsethiae, F. poae and F. sporotrichioides in a previous study, and 39 isolates of F. cerealis, F. culmorum, F. graminearum and F. pseudograminearum retrieved from sequence databases. The 222 aligned sequences were subjected to phylogenetic analyses using maximum parsimony and Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo maximum likelihood statistics. Support for internal branching topologies was examined by Bremer support, bootstrap and posterior probability analyses. The resulting trees were largely congruent. The taxon groups included in the sections Discolor, Gibbosum and Sporotrichiella sensu Wollenweber & Reinking (1935) all appeared to be polyphyletic. All species were monophyletic except F. flocciferum that was paraphyletic, and one isolate classified as F. cfr langsethiae on the basis of morphology that grouped with F. sporotrichioides. Mapping of toxin profiles, host preferences and geographic origin onto the DNA based phylogenetic tree structure indicated that in particular the toxin profiles corresponded with phylogeny, i.e. phylotoxigenic relationships were inferred. A major distinction was observed between the trichothecene and non-trichothecene producers, and the trichothecene producers were grouped into one clade of strictly type A trichothecene producers, one clade of strictly type B trichothecene producers and one clade with both type A and type B trichothecene producers. Furthermore, production of the type A trichothecenes T-2/HT-2 toxins are associated with a lineage comprising F. langsethiae and F. sporotrichioides. The ability to produce zearalenone was apparently gained parallel to the ability to produce trichothecenes, and later lost in a derived sublineage. The ability to produce enniatins is a shared feature of the entire study group, with the exception of the strict trichothecene type B producers and F. equiseti. The ability to produce moniliformin seems to be an ancestral feature of members of the genus Fusarium which seems to have been lost in the clades consisting of trichothecene/zearalenone producers. The aims of the present study were to determine the phylogenetic relationships between the different species of Fusarium commonly occurring on Norwegian cereals and some of their closest relatives, as well as to reveal underlying patterns such as the ability to produce certain mycotoxins, geographic distribution and host preferences. Implications for a better classification of Fusarium are discussed and highlighted.

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