Value of host range, morphological, and genetic characteristics within the Entomophthora muscae species complex.

Department of Ecology, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (KVL), Thorvaldsensvej 40, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark. <>
Mycological Research (Impact Factor: 2.81). 09/2006; 110(Pt 8):941-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.mycres.2006.06.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Entomopthora muscae sensu lato is a complex of morphologically similar fungal species pathogenic to evolutionarily advanced flies (Cyclorrhapha). To reach an operational species definition and recognition of species within this complex, the values of host range, morphological and genetic characteristics are reconsidered. Within the E. muscae species complex morphological and nuclear characteristics of the primary conidia are taxonomically important. In this study we compared the dimensions and nuclear numbers of the primary conidia of isolates from their original (natural) hosts and after being transferred to alternative hosts (cross-transmission) in order to check the stability of these characteristics. The conidial characteristics change substantially when produced in alternative host species, but their overall range in variability still fit within the traditional morphological species circumscriptions. The phylogenetic analyses of the ITS II and LSU rRNA gene sequences, revealed three distinct lineages within the complex: E. schizophorae, E. muscae and E. syrphi. Within each of these lineages sequence divergence was seen between isolates originating from different host species. Our studies on the physiological host range showed that several isolates were able to infect alternative dipteran species. Musca domestica was a particularly good receptor. The ecological host range of any individual isolate seems, however, to be limited to one host species evidenced by the occurrence of distinct genotypes within each natural infected host species shown by RAPD. The high host specificity of these fungi emphasizes the importance of identifying the host taxon at species level in the recognition of Entomophthora species. We recommend that morphological characteristics of fungal structures and host taxon, together with molecular data, serve as criteria for species determination in future studies on members of the E. muscae complex.

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