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Genome. 1996 Jun;39(3):499-512.

Phylogeny and systematics of 18 Colletotrichum species based on ribosomal DNA spacer sequences.

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Department of Applied Plant Science, The Queen's University of Belfast, U.K.


The potential use of the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences in understanding the phylogeny and systematics of Colletotrichum species has been evaluated. Sequence data from a limited number of isolates revealed that in Colletotrichum species the ITS 1 region (50.3% variable sites) shows a greater degree of intra- and inter-specific divergence than ITS 2 (12.4% variable sites). Nucleotide sequences of the ITS 1 region from 93 isolates representing 18 Colletotrichum species were determined. Data for 71 of these isolates where molecular and morphological identities concurred were used for phylogenetic analysis. The size of the ITS 1 region varied from 159 to 185 base pairs. Maximum intraspecific divergence was recorded with C. acutatum (5.8%), and C. capsici showed the greatest level of interspecific divergence (8.9-23.3%). Parsimony and distance analyses gave similar tree topologies. The bootstrapped consensus parsimony tree divided the 18 Colletotrichum species into six phylogenetic groups, designated 1-6. These groups, however, are not congruent with species clusterings based on spore shape. For example, the straight cylindrical spored species were represented both in groups 1 and 6; group 6 also included the falcate fusiform spored species C. capsici. The molecular evidence suggests refinement of the species concepts of some of the taxa examined. In group 6, divergence between C. gloeosporioides and C. fuscum (0.6-3.0%) or C. kahawae (0.6-3.0%) or C. fragariae (0.6-4.2%) overlap the divergence (3.6%) within C. gloeosporioides. It is suggested that C. fuscum as well as C. kahawae and C. fragariae fall within the group species C. gloeosporioides. ITS 1 data enabled clear distinction (7.1%) of Colletotrichum isolates from maize and sorghum into C. graminicola and C. sublineolum, respectively (group 2). Species such as C. acutatum, C. coccodes, C. dematium, and C. trichellum can be clearly distinguished based on ITS 1 sequence divergence, but C. destructivum cannot be confidently separated (98% homology) from C. linicola. Colletotrichum dematium f. truncatum is distinct (12.9%) from C. dematium and should probably be called C. truncatum.

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