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Two new aflatoxin producing species, and an overview of Aspergillus section Flavi

By J. Varga, J.C. Frisvad and R.A. Samson


Aspergillus subgenus Circumdati section Flavi includes species with usually biseriate conidial heads, in shades of yellow-green to brown, and dark sclerotia. Several species assigned to this section are either important mycotoxin producers including aflatoxins, cyclopiazonic acid, ochratoxins and kojic acid, or are used in oriental food fermentation processes and as hosts for heterologous gene expression. A polyphasic approach was applied using morphological characters, extrolite data and partial calmodulin, β-tubulin and ITS sequences to examine the evolutionary relationships within this section. The data indicate that Aspergillus section Flavi involves 22 species, which can be grouped into seven clades. Two new species, A. pseudocaelatus sp. nov. and A. pseudonomius sp. nov. have been discovered, and can be distinguished from other species in this section based on sequence data and extrolite profiles. Aspergillus pseudocaelatus is represented by a single isolate collected from Arachis burkartii leaf in Argentina, is closely related to the non-aflatoxin producing A. caelatus, and produces aflatoxins B & G, cyclopiazonic acid and kojic acid, while A. pseudonomius was isolated from insects and soil in the USA. This species is related to A. nomius, and produces aflatoxin B1 (but not G-type aflatoxins), chrysogine and kojic acid. In order to prove the aflatoxin producing abilities of the isolates, phylogenetic analysis of three genes taking part in aflatoxin biosynthesis, including the transcriptional regulator aflR, norsolonic acid reductase and O-methyltransferase were also carried out. A detailed overview of the species accepted in Aspergillus section Flavi is presented

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