Submitted to: Inoculum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 24, 2002
Publication Date: June 30, 2002
Citation: Rossman, A.Y., Palm, M.E. Systematics and the study of invasive fungi. Inoculum. Vol. 53, p49. 2002.
Preventing the introduction of plant pathogens into new regions is critical for conserving plant diversity throughout the world. This activity relies on baseline data about the fungi already present in an area and the ability to distinguish these fungi from potential new introductions. Until recently, fungal species have been identified primarily using morphological criteria. Quarantine decisions are based on these identifications. Recent data have shown that, for some groups of fungi, taxa defined solely on morphology are not biologically meaningful. For example, some fungal species considered to be host specific actually infect a wide host range. Conversely, the same host plant may be infected by more than one morphologically similar but genetically distinct fungus. Whether or not those genetic differences correlate with a differing ability to cause plant disease is still unknown. Thus, decisions about regulating the introduction of fungal-infected plant material present a challenge to plant quarantine organizations. This challenge can be met with an increased knowledge of fungal systematics in which fungal species are defined by combining morphological, biological, and genetic characteristics. This knowledge will serve as the basis for providing biologically meaningful fungal names as well as accurate identification systems, which are vital to safeguarding plant resources and conserving plant diversity worldwide.