• Nomenclatural issues concerning cultured yeasts and other fungi: why it is important to avoid unneeded name changes.

      Yurkov, Andrey; Alves, Artur; Bai, Feng-Yan; Boundy-Mills, Kyria; Buzzini, Pietro; Čadež, Neža; Cardinali, Gianluigi; Casaregola, Serge; Chaturvedi, Vishnu; Collin, Valérie; et al. (BMC, 2021-07-13)
      The unambiguous application of fungal names is important to communicate scientific findings. Names are critical for (clinical) diagnostics, legal compliance, and regulatory controls, such as biosafety, food security, quarantine regulations, and industrial applications. Consequently, the stability of the taxonomic system and the traceability of nomenclatural changes is crucial for a broad range of users and taxonomists. The unambiguous application of names is assured by the preservation of nomenclatural history and the physical organisms representing a name. Fungi are extremely diverse in terms of ecology, lifestyle, and methods of study. Predominantly unicellular fungi known as yeasts are usually investigated as living cultures. Methods to characterize yeasts include physiological (growth) tests and experiments to induce a sexual morph; both methods require viable cultures. Thus, the preservation and availability of viable reference cultures are important, and cultures representing reference material are cited in species descriptions. Historical surveys revealed drawbacks and inconsistencies between past practices and modern requirements as stated in the International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi, and Plants (ICNafp). Improper typification of yeasts is a common problem, resulting in a large number invalid yeast species names. With this opinion letter, we address the problem that culturable microorganisms, notably some fungi and algae, require specific provisions under the ICNafp. We use yeasts as a prominent example of fungi known from cultures. But viable type material is important not only for yeasts, but also for other cultivable Fungi that are characterized by particular morphological structures (a specific type of spores), growth properties, and secondary metabolites. We summarize potential proposals which, in our opinion, will improve the stability of fungal names, in particular by protecting those names for which the reference material can be traced back to the original isolate.
    • Unambiguous identification of fungi: where do we stand and how accurate and precise is fungal DNA barcoding?

      Lücking, Robert; Aime, M Catherine; Robbertse, Barbara; Miller, Andrew N; Ariyawansa, Hiran A; Aoki, Takayuki; Cardinali, Gianluigi; Crous, Pedro W; Druzhinina, Irina S; Geiser, David M; et al. (BMC, 2020-07-10)
      True fungi (Fungi) and fungus-like organisms (e.g. Mycetozoa, Oomycota) constitute the second largest group of organisms based on global richness estimates, with around 3 million predicted species. Compared to plants and animals, fungi have simple body plans with often morphologically and ecologically obscure structures. This poses challenges for accurate and precise identifications. Here we provide a conceptual framework for the identification of fungi, encouraging the approach of integrative (polyphasic) taxonomy for species delimitation, i.e. the combination of genealogy (phylogeny), phenotype (including autecology), and reproductive biology (when feasible). This allows objective evaluation of diagnostic characters, either phenotypic or molecular or both. Verification of identifications is crucial but often neglected. Because of clade-specific evolutionary histories, there is currently no single tool for the identification of fungi, although DNA barcoding using the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) remains a first diagnosis, particularly in metabarcoding studies. Secondary DNA barcodes are increasingly implemented for groups where ITS does not provide sufficient precision. Issues of pairwise sequence similarity-based identifications and OTU clustering are discussed, and multiple sequence alignment-based phylogenetic approaches with subsequent verification are recommended as more accurate alternatives. In metabarcoding approaches, the trade-off between speed and accuracy and precision of molecular identifications must be carefully considered. Intragenomic variation of the ITS and other barcoding markers should be properly documented, as phylotype diversity is not necessarily a proxy of species richness. Important strategies to improve molecular identification of fungi are: (1) broadly document intraspecific and intragenomic variation of barcoding markers; (2) substantially expand sequence repositories, focusing on undersampled clades and missing taxa; (3) improve curation of sequence labels in primary repositories and substantially increase the number of sequences based on verified material; (4) link sequence data to digital information of voucher specimens including imagery. In parallel, technological improvements to genome sequencing offer promising alternatives to DNA barcoding in the future. Despite the prevalence of DNA-based fungal taxonomy, phenotype-based approaches remain an important strategy to catalog the global diversity of fungi and establish initial species hypotheses.