Fungal biology

Morphological and molecular characterisation of Geosmithia species on European elms.

PMID 26466880


Species of the genus Geosmithia are associated with insect species, mainly bark beetles. On Ulmus spp., the same beetles are also vectors of Ophiostoma ulmi s.l., the agent of Dutch elm disease (DED), a worldwide elm disease. Aim of this paper is to characterise Geosmithia species associated with elms and/or elm beetles in Europe. Seventy-two strains representative of all morphological taxonomic units were used to build a phylogenetic tree based on ITS, β-tubulin and elongation factor 1-α gene regions. On the basis of molecular and morpho-physiological traits, seven taxonomic entities were identified. In addition to the species previously known our results assigned strains previously identified as Geosmithia pallida to two separate taxa: Geosmithia sp. 2 and Geosmithia sp. 5. Two new species, Geosmithia omnicola and Geosmithia ulmacea, are described. Two strains were assigned to the partially described species Geosmithia sp. 20. Geosmithia species living on Ulmus do not discriminate between elm species, but between different environments. The association between Ulmus and Geosmithia is common, stable, and seems to be related to specific vectors. The relationship between Geosmithia and Ophiostoma would deserve further investigation, as these fungi share the same vectors and habitat for a significant part of their life cycles.