Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 87, Issue 4, pp 311–328 | Cite as

Taxonomy and phylogeny of the xerophilic genus Wallemia (Wallemiomycetes and Wallemiales, cl. et ord. nov.)

  • Polona Zalar
  • G. Sybren de Hoog
  • Hans-Josef Schroers
  • John Michael Frank
  • Nina Gunde-Cimerman


The genus Wallemia comprises xerophilic species. Based on parenthesome ultrastructure it has been linked to the Filobasidiales (basidiomycetes). Species show a unique type of conidiogenesis, including basauxic development of fertile hyphae, segregation of conidial units more or less basipetally, and disarticulation of conidial units into mostly four arthrospore-like conidia. Wallemia is known from air, soil, dried food (causing spoilage), and salt. It can be isolated from hypersaline water of man-made salterns on different continents. Based on analyses of the nuclear small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) Wallemia has been placed into a highly supported clade together with Ustilaginomycetes and Hymenomycetes (Basidiomycota). Within this clade, it possesses an isolated position distantly related to the Filobasidiales and was characterized by numerous nucleotide substitutions not shared by any other fungus. Tests on xerotolerance indicated that Wallemia presents one of the most xerophilic fungal taxa. Xerotolerance is otherwise rare in the Basidiomycota. To acknowledge its unique morphology, evolution, and xerotolerance, a new basidiomycetous class Wallemiomycetes covering an order Wallemiales, is proposed. Based on differences in conidial size, xerotolerance, and sequence data of the rDNA internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS rDNA), at least three Wallemia species are segregated, identified as Wallemia ichthyophaga, Wallemia sebi, and Torula epizoa var. muriae, for which the combination Wallemia muriae is proposed. The three species are neotypified. Wallemia ichthyophaga differs from W. sebi and W. muriae in numerous nucleotides of the SSU and ITS rDNA. This high variation within Wallemia indicates existence of at least two cryptic genera not distinguishable by morphological characters.


Ecology Food-borne fungi Internal transcribed spacer ribosomal DNA Salterns Small subunit ribosomal DNA Xerotolerance 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Polona Zalar
    • 1
  • G. Sybren de Hoog
    • 2
  • Hans-Josef Schroers
    • 3
  • John Michael Frank
    • 4
  • Nina Gunde-Cimerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Biotechnical Faculty, Biology DepartmentUniversity of LjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Centraalbureau voor SchimmelculturesThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Agricultural Institute of SloveniaLjubljanaSlovenia
  4. 4.John Michael FrankEarnhamUK

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