, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 167-187
Date: 31 Aug 2011

Pestalotiopsis—morphology, phylogeny, biochemistry and diversity

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Abstract

The genus Pestalotiopsis has received considerable attention in recent years, not only because of its role as a plant pathogen but also as a commonly isolated endophyte which has been shown to produce a wide range of chemically novel diverse metabolites. Classification in the genus has been previously based on morphology, with conidial characters being considered as important in distinguishing species and closely related genera. In this review, Pestalotia, Pestalotiopsis and some related genera are evaluated; it is concluded that the large number of described species has resulted from introductions based on host association. We suspect that many of these are probably not good biological species. Recent molecular data have shown that conidial characters can be used to distinguish taxa; however, host association and geographical location is less informative. The taxonomy of the genera complex remains confused. There are only a few type cultures and, therefore, it is impossible to use gene sequences in GenBank to clarify species names reliably. It has not even been established whether Pestalotia and Pestalotiopsis are distinct genera, as no isolates of the type species of Pestalotia have been sequenced, and they are morphologically somewhat similar. When selected GenBank ITS accessions of Pestalotiopsis clavispora, P. disseminata, P. microspora, P. neglecta, P. photiniae, P. theae, P. virgatula and P. vismiae are aligned, most species cluster throughout any phylogram generated. Since there appears to be no living type strain for any of these species, it is unwise to use GenBank sequences to represent any of these names. Type cultures and sequences are available for the recently described species P. hainanensis, P. jesteri, P. kunmingensis and P. pallidotheae. It is clear that the important species in Pestalotia and Pestalotiopsis need to be epitypified so that we can begin to understand the genus/genera. There are numerous reports in the literature that various species produce taxol, while others produce newly discovered compounds with medicinal potential and still others cause disease. The names assigned to these novel compound-producing taxa lack an accurate taxonomic basis, since the taxonomy of the genus is markedly confused. Until the important species have been epitypified with living strains that have been sequenced and deposited in public databases, researchers should refrain from providing the exact name of species.