Modern taxonomy of biotechnologically important Aspergillus and Penicillium species

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    Taxonomy is a dynamic discipline and name changes of fungi with biotechnological, industrial, or medical importance are often difficult to understand for researchers in the applied field. Species belonging to the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium are commonly used or isolated, and inadequate taxonomy or uncertain nomenclature of these genera can therefore lead to tremendous confusion. Misidentification of strains used in biotechnology can be traced back to (1) recent changes in nomenclature, (2) new taxonomic insights, including description of new species, and/or (3) incorrect identifications. Changes in the recent published International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi and Plants will lead to numerous name changes of existing Aspergillus and Penicillium species and an overview of the current names of biotechnological important species is given. Furthermore, in (biotechnological) literature old and invalid names are still used, such as Aspergillus awamori, A. foetidus, A. kawachii, Talaromyces emersonii, Acremonium cellulolyticus, and Penicillium funiculosum. An overview of these and other species with their correct names is presented. Furthermore, the biotechnologically important species Talaromyces thermophilus is here combined in Thermomyces as Th. dupontii. The importance of Aspergillus, Penicillium, and related genera is also illustrated by the high number of undertaken genome sequencing projects. A number of these strains are incorrectly identified or atypical strains are selected for these projects. Recommendations for correct strain selection are given here. Phylogenetic analysis shows a close relationship between the genome-sequenced strains of Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Monascus. Talaromyces stipitatus and T. marneffei (syn. Penicillium marneffei) are closely related to Thermomyces lanuginosus and Th. dupontii (syn. Talaromyces thermophilus), and these species appear to be distantly related to Aspergillus and Penicillium. In the last part of this review, an overview of heterothallic reproduction in Aspergillus and Penicillium is given. The new insights in the taxonomy of Aspergillus, Penicillium, and related genera will help to interpret the results generated with comparative genomics studies or other studies dealing with evolution of, for example, enzymes, mating-type loci, virulence genes, and secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-249
    Number of pages51
    JournalAdvances in Applied Microbiology
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Aspergillus
    • Fungi
    • Genome, Fungal
    • Industrial Microbiology
    • Penicillium
    • Phylogeny


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