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Multilocus species identification and fungal DNA barcoding: insights from blue stain fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle


Amanda D. Roe, Fax: 780 492 9234; E-mail:


There is strong community-wide interest in applying molecular techniques to fungal species delimitation and identification, but selection of a standardized region or regions of the genome has not been finalized. A single marker, the ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer region, has frequently been suggested as the standard for fungi. We used a group of closely related blue stain fungi associated with the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) to examine the success of such single-locus species identification, comparing the internal transcribed spacer with four other nuclear markers. We demonstrate that single loci varied in their utility for identifying the six fungal species examined, while use of multiple loci was consistently successful. In a literature survey of 21 similar studies, individual loci were also highly variable in their ability to provide consistent species identifications and were less successful than multilocus diagnostics. Accurate species identification is the essence of any molecular diagnostic system, and this consideration should be central to locus selection. Moreover, our study and the literature survey demonstrate the value of using closely related species as the proving ground for developing a molecular identification system. We advocate use of a multilocus barcode approach that is similar to the practice employed by the plant barcode community, rather than reliance on a single locus.

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