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Stud Mycol. 2007;59:1-10. doi: 10.3114/sim.2007.59.01.

The current status of species recognition and identification in Aspergillus.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, U.S.A.


The species recognition and identification of aspergilli and their teleomorphs is discussed. A historical overview of the taxonomic concepts starting with the monograph of Raper & Fennell (1965) is given. A list of taxa described since 2000 is provided. Physiological characters, particularly growth rates and the production of extrolites, often show differences that reflect phylogenetic species boundaries and greater emphasis should be placed on extrolite profiles and growth characteristics in species descriptions. Multilocus sequence-based phylogenetic analyses have emerged as the primary tool for inferring phylogenetic species boundaries and relationships within subgenera and sections. A four locus DNA sequence study covering all major lineages in Aspergillus using genealogical concordance theory resulted in a species recognition system that agrees in part with phenotypic studies and reveals the presence of many undescribed species not resolved by phenotype. The use of as much data from as many sources as possible in making taxonomic decisions is advocated. For species identification, DNA barcoding uses a short genetic marker in an organism"s DNA to quickly and easily identify it to a particular species. Partial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 sequences, which are used for barcoding animal species, were found to have limited value for species identification among black aspergilli. The various possibilities are discussed and at present partial beta-tubulin or calmodulin are the most promising loci for Aspergillus identification. For characterising Aspergillus species one application would be to produce a multilocus phylogeny, with the goal of having a firm understanding of the evolutionary relationships among species across the entire genus. DNA chip technologies are discussed as possibilities for an accurate multilocus barcoding tool for the genus Aspergillus.


multolocus phylogenetics; polyphasic taxonomy; species identification; species recognition

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