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Wallemia peruviensis sp. nov., a new xerophilic fungus from an agricultural setting in South America


We obtained four isolates of the xerophilic genus Wallemia from the rooftop of a house made of red brick and cement in an agronomic field planted with common beans and maize in Pachacamac, Lima, Peru. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis with rDNA gene sequences showed these Wallemia isolates form a distinct and strongly supported clade closely related to W. hederae. We examined the macro and micromorphology, growth rate and production of exudates of isolates on media containing different amounts of glucose and NaCl (water activity from 0.9993 to 0.8480). Their chaotropic and kosmotropic tolerance were tested on media with multiple molar concentrations of MgCl2 and MgSO4 (water activity from 0.9880 to 0.7877). Isolates are xerophilic and halotolerant, growing on 17% NaCl-supplemented media (water activity = 0.8480). Maximum concentrations of MgCl2 and MgSO4 at which growth was observed were 1.7 and 3.5 M, respectively. Isolates were shown to represent a novel species, described as Wallemia peruviensis sp. nov. In contrast to W. hederae, W. peruviensis does not produce exudates on malt extract agar + 17% NaCl media. An updated dichotomous key to Wallemia species is provided. This is the first new species of Wallemia described from South America and the first association of a Wallemia species with an agricultural environment on this continent.

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a w :

Water activity


Internal transcribed spacer region rDNA


Small subunit 18S rDNA


Markov chain Monte Carlo


Malt extract agar


Malt yeast extract agar


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We thank David Aime for facilitating sampling in Peru and Daniel Reátegui for collecting isolates. We also thank Beth Kennedy for testing selective media, John Klimek for culture maintenance, Marlon Rodríguez for preparing some of the media used in this study, and rest of the members of the Aime lab for constructive comments on the manuscript. Special thanks to Dr. Jozef Kokini at the Department of Food Science, Purdue University, for facilitating the use of the aw-meter, and to Luis Maldonado and José Bonilla for technical help. Finally, we thank SERFOR, Peru for granting permits to collect and work with fungal taxa from the country and two anonymous reviewers for suggesting improvements to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to M. Catherine Aime.

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Communicated by A. Oren.

Electronic supplementary material

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Online Resource 1 Media used in this study (PDF 215 kb)

Online Resource 2 Bayesian phylogenetic trees of ITS and SSU datasets of Wallemia isolates (PDF 139 kb)

Online Resource 3 Colony characteristics of Wallemia peruviensis at 15 days of growth (PDF 221 kb)


Online Resource 4 Growth of Wallemia peruviensis under kosmotropic (MgSO4) and chaotropic (MgCl2) solutes at different molar concentrations (DOCX 2456 kb)

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Díaz-Valderrama, J.R., Nguyen, H.D.T. & Aime, M.C. Wallemia peruviensis sp. nov., a new xerophilic fungus from an agricultural setting in South America. Extremophiles 21, 1017–1025 (2017).

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