Research Features

An important new publication provides a major update of the taxonomy of Aspergillus, Penicillium and other Eurotiales.

The Eurotialesis relatively large and includes some of the most important fungi known (e.g. AspergillusByssochlamysPenicillium and Talaromyces). These are commonly occurring fungi and very few people have not been affected by them in some way. Penicillium rubens for example is famously responsible for the production of penicillin. The antibiotic’s original discovery by Alexander Fleming in the 1920s and subsequent purification and large-scale production by Florey and his research team in the 1940s has saved the lives of many millions of people.  Many other Eurotiales gain attention from various research fields, most notably food, indoor and medical mycology, and biotechnology where they can have both positive and negative impacts on humans. 

Fungi in the Eurotiales are notoriously difficult to work with. Morphological identifications are typically inconsistent and time-consuming, even for fungal taxonomists. As a result, the community working on these fungi have adopted a sequenced-based approach, which has been applied during the course of the last decade. However, this approach works only where one has access to taxonomically-reliable and -complete DNA sequence databases for comparative purposes.

In a collaborative venture with Dr Jos Houbraken (Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, the Netherlands), Prof. Cobus M VisagieDr Neriman Yilmaz (both from FABI) and others  have recently completed and published a major study updating the taxonomy of the Eurotiales. An overview of the five families and 28 genera (four newly described) is provided, and includes a comprehensive list of 1,186 accepted species. For each species accepted in the list, important data have been linked to each name, including MycoBank numbers, collection numbers of type and ex-type cultures, sebgeneric classification, its mode of reproduction, and GenBank accession numbers of ITS, beta-tubulin, calmodulin and RNA polymerase II second largest subunit (RPB2) sequences. Based on this ground-breaking study, Aspergillus (447) and Penicillium (482) currently accommodate the greatest number of species. In order to make working with these fungi manageable, a new sub-generic, sectional and series classification has been introduced. The data provided in this publication also establish AspergillusPenicillium and Talaromyces as the genera with arguably the most advanced taxonomy of all fungi. This is a taxonomic undertaking that should serve the stakeholder community deeply and allow most people the opportunity  to work with and correctly identify these incredibly important fungi. 

The paper can be accessed by clicking here.