DNA Sequence-Based Identification of Fusarium: A Work in Progress

Kerry O’Donnell, Briana K. Whitaker, Imane Laraba, Robert H. Proctor, Daren W. Brown, Kirk Broders, Hye Seon Kim, Susan P. McCormick, Mark Busman, Takayuki Aoki, Terry J. Torres-Cruz, David M. Geiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Accurate species-level identification of an etiological agent is crucial for disease diagnosis and management because knowing the agent’s identity connects it with what is known about its host range, geographic distribution, and toxin production potential. This is particularly true in publishing peer-reviewed disease reports, where imprecise and/or incorrect identifications weaken the public knowledge base. This can be a daunting task for phytopathologists and other applied biologists that need to identify Fusarium in particular, because published and ongoing multilocus molecular systematic studies have highlighted several confounding issues. Paramount among these are: (i) this agriculturally and clinically important genus is currently estimated to comprise more than 400 phylogenetically distinct species (i.e., phylospecies), with more than 80% of these discovered within the past 25 years; (ii) approximately one-third of the phylospecies have not been formally described; (iii) morphology alone is inadequate to distinguish most of these species from one another; and (iv) the current rapid discovery of novel fusaria from pathogen surveys and accompanying impact on the taxonomic landscape is expected to continue well into the foreseeable future. To address the critical need for accurate pathogen identification, our research groups are focused on populating two web-accessible databases (FUSARIUM-ID v.3.0 and the nonredundant National Center for Biotechnology Information nucleotide collection that includes GenBank) with portions of three phylogenetically informative genes (i.e., TEF1, RPB1, and RPB2) that resolve at or near the species level in every Fusarium species. The objectives of this Special Report, and its companion in this issue (Torres-Cruz et al. 2022), are to provide a progress report on our efforts to populate these databases and to outline a set of best practices for DNA sequence-based identification of fusaria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1597-1609
Number of pages13
JournalPlant disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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