, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 21-32
Date: 14 Oct 2010

Culture collections, the new herbaria for fungal pathogens

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Abstract

This paper discusses the importance of culture collections in plant pathology and reviews the methods currently available to store cultures. The preservation and maintenance of plant pathogenic fungi in a viable yet stable state for long periods has always been important, because isolates of these fungi can serve as standards for identification of quarantine taxa. Such isolates are also important for testing disease resistance and for plant breeding programs. The increasing use of molecular sequences analysis in the systematics of plant pathogenic fungi has meant that maintaining fungi in culture collections has become essential. Herein we discuss trends in the identification of plant and post-harvest pathogens, using Aspergillus, Colletotrichum, Phyllosticta and Mycosphaerella and its anamorphs as examples. Herbarium specimens, although still a requirement of the Botanical Code when describing new species are, perhaps, less important in providing useful information when defining a pathogenic species. Many pathogen groups consist of complexes of species and morphology alone can no longer distinguish among species. However, ex-type living cultures are essential for identification and future species comparisons that incorporate the use of molecular techniques. As such, ex-type cultures of any new species of pathogen, or when new diseases are reported or studies involving pathogenic strains are published, cultures of the taxa studied should be deposited in widely available culture collections, preferably in at least three members of World Federation for Culture Collections. Methods for the storage of fungal cultures such as water preservation, freezing, mineral oil overlay, freeze drying and lyophilization are reviewed in this paper. The main objective of culture preservation is to maintain the vigor and genetic characteristics of a pure culture. Therefore, safe long-term preservation methods are required to ensure fungal survival and retention of any valuable characteristics. To minimize the risk of any morphological, physiological, or genetic changes, several different preservation conditions should be used whenever possible. The present review also describes a complete preservation methodology that can be used for plant pathogenic fungi.