A new infrastructure is urgently needed to encourage and promote international and national research collaborations on the genus Fusarium, which includes numerous important pathogens and mycotoxin producers. The International Centre for Fusarium research aims to provide a stable platform for collaborations between Fusarium research laboratories and to develop new standard approaches for Fusarium research.
The fungal genus Fusarium is one of the world’s most economically destructive and species-rich groups of mycotoxin producing plant pathogens. These pathogens pose a significant threat to food security and through their mycotoxins also to food safety, while an increasing number of species are emerging as human and animal pathogens. Identification of exact species and chemotypes are important for adequate treatment strategies.
In the past two decades, the application of phylogenetic species recognition based on genealogical concordance and non-discordance (GCPSR) has resulted in the identification of approximately 300 phylogenetic species in Fusarium. However, the majority of these phylogenetic species remain unnamed possibly due to their cryptic morphology and the non-monophyletic nature of the genus. In practice, nowadays often little distinction is made between groups of species where species level recognition would link to for instance secondary metabolite profiles or antifungal resistance data.
Historically, Fusarium taxonomy has focused on the asexual morph (anamorph), as the sexual morph (teleomorph) is mostly unknown for most species, and the asexual morph is more frequently encountered in nature by biologists. The implementation of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants (ICN; Melbourne Code) on 1 January 2013, in which the asexual and sexual morphs are granted equal status with names assigned based on priority, has revolutionised the taxonomic treatment of fungi, including Fusarium. This has resulted in the recent segregation of Fusarium, with the resurrection and introduction of sexual morph generic names, which have been met with mixed emotions by the international Fusarium working community. Fusarium taxonomic studies in the past decade have seen the use of various characterisation protocols (morphology and DNA sequence based), making comparative studies difficult or even impossible, with key Fusarium strains lodged in collections not accessible to the international Fusarium working community. Thus it has become clear that an international initiative is required to promote international collaboration in the Fusarium working community through the establishment of standardized research protocols in the fields of molecular taxonomy, pathology and morphology.
CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Center, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Pedro W. Crous, Lorenzo Lombard, Alejandra Giraldo, Balazs Brankovics and Anne van Diepeningen
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Mike J. Wingfield and Emma Steenkamp
Plant Research international, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens and Mycology Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Peoria, Illinois
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa Research and Development Centre, Ontario, Ottawa, Canada
Keith A. Seifert
Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
David M. Geiser
Genetic Resource Center (MAFF), National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Kannondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
The Royal Botanical Gardens and Domain Trusts, Sydney, Australia
CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Uppsalalaan 8, Utrecht, The Netherlands