One fungus, one name promotes progressive plant pathology

Authors

  • MICHAEL J. WINGFIELD,

    1. Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • Z. WILHELM DE BEER,

    Corresponding author
    1. Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
    2. Department of Microbiology, FABI, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
      Email: wilhelm.debeer@fabi.up.ac.za
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  • BERNARD SLIPPERS,

    1. Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
    2. Department of Genetics, FABI, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • BRENDA D. WINGFIELD,

    1. Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
    2. Department of Genetics, FABI, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
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  • JOHANNES Z. GROENEWALD,

    1. CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, PO Box 85167, 3508 AD, Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • LORENZO LOMBARD,

    1. CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, PO Box 85167, 3508 AD, Utrecht, the Netherlands
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  • PEDRO W. CROUS

    1. CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, PO Box 85167, 3508 AD, Utrecht, the Netherlands
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Email: wilhelm.debeer@fabi.up.ac.za

SUMMARY

The robust and reliable identification of fungi underpins virtually every element of plant pathology, from disease diagnosis to studies of biology, management/control, quarantine and, even more recently, comparative genomics. Most plant diseases are caused by fungi, typically pleomorphic organisms, for which the taxonomy and, in particular, a dual nomenclature system have frustrated and confused practitioners of plant pathology. The emergence of DNA sequencing has revealed cryptic taxa and revolutionized our understanding of relationships in the fungi. The impacts on plant pathology at every level are already immense and will continue to grow rapidly as new DNA sequencing technologies continue to emerge. DNA sequence comparisons, used to resolve a dual nomenclature problem for the first time only 19 years ago, have made it possible to approach a natural classification for the fungi and to abandon the confusing dual nomenclature system. The journey to a one fungus, one name taxonomic reality has been long and arduous, but its time has come. This will inevitably have a positive impact on plant pathology, plant pathologists and future students of this hugely important discipline on which the world depends for food security and plant health in general. This contemporary review highlights the problems of a dual nomenclature, especially its impact on plant pathogenic fungi, and charts the road to a one fungus, one name system that is rapidly drawing near.

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