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Int J Food Microbiol. 2019 Mar 16;293:34-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 3.

Alternaria species associated to wheat black point identified through a multilocus sequence approach.

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Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA-CNR), via Amendola 122/O, 70126 Bari, Italy.
Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA-CNR), via Amendola 122/O, 70126 Bari, Italy. Electronic address:


Black point is one of the most important wheat disease and its incidence is increasing worldwide due to climate change too. Among the fungal genera that can cause black point, Alternaria is one of the predominant genus, often associated with mycotoxin contamination. The correct identification is the baseline for prevention and control of the disease. Taxonomy of the genus Alternaria is not completely clear yet, since its species can be differentiated for few morphological traits and, in some cases, also molecular phylogeny is not very effective in establishing species boundaries. In this study, one-hundred sixty-four strains, isolated from wheat kernels affected by black point sampled worldwide, were analyzed in order to assess their identity. Sequences of elongation factor, β-tubulin, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and allergen alt-a1 genes were used to identify the variability of this population and their phylogenetic relationships. Isolates were grouped in two main clades: the Alternaria section, including A. alternata, A. tenuissima and A. arborescens species, and the Infectoriae section, that includes the two species A. infectoria and A. triticina. Comparison of isolates according with their area of isolation did not show a correlation between phylogeny and geographic origin. Indeed, the isolates grouped on the base of only their phylogenetic relationship. Due to the data arisen by our study, we strongly recommend a multilocus sequence approach to define Alternaria species, based on common genes and procedures to be unanimously shared by scientific community dealing with Alternaria genus. Moreover, we suggest that A. alternata, A. tenuissima, A. turkisafria and A. limoniasperae species would be merged in the defined species A. alternata. Finally we recommend to consider a taxonomic re-evaluation of the Infectoriae section that, for the morphology, sexuality, genetic and mycotoxin profile of the species included, could be defined as different fungal genus from Alternaria.


Alternaria section; Alternaria taxonomy; Infectoriae section

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