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Title: A multilocus phylogeny of the Metarhizium anisopliae lineage

item Rehner, Stephen
item Humber, Richard

Submitted to: Mycologia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/21/2009
Publication Date: 6/15/2009
Citation: Bishoff, J.F., Rehner, S.A., Humber, R.A. 2009. A multilocus phylogeny of the Metarhizium anisopliae lineage. Mycologia. 101(4):512-530.

Interpretive Summary: Insects cause billions of dollars damage to agricultural crops. A group of fungi that live in the soil have the ability to kill many kinds of insect pests without the use of chemicals. However, use of these fungi to control insects is hindered by lack of knowledge about how to precisely identify them. In this research methods to accurately differentiate these fungi were developed. It was determined that what had been considered one species was actually eight different species. Most of these species vary in how they appear and in which insects they attack. Two species can only be identified using molecular methods. All eight species can be rapidly differentiated by sequencing one gene. These results will be useful to scientists searching for fungi to control pest insects and to governmental agencies that regulate the introduction and release of insect pathogens for biological control.

Technical Abstract: Metarhizium anisopliae, the type species of the anamorph entomopathogenic genus Metarhizium, is currently composed of four varieties and has been demonstrated to be closely associated with M. taii, M. pingshaense, and M. guizhouense. In this study we evaluate the phylogenetic relationships within the M. anisopliae complex, identify monophyletic lineages, clarify the taxonomy, and elevate three varieties to the species level. To this end, we have employed a multigene phylogenetic approach utilizing near-complete sequences from the nuclear encoded EF-1', RPB1, RPB2, and '-tubulin, totaling 7621bp, and evaluated the morphology of these taxa, including ex-types whenever possible. The phylogenetic evidence supports the monophyly of these varieties. We propose that they be elevated to the species level as: M. acridum stat. nov., M. lepidiotae stat. nov., M. majus stat. nov. In addition, we resurrect the name M. brunneum as a sister group to M. anisopliae and show that M. taii is a later synonym of M. guizhouense.