Cabral, A., Azinheira, H., Talhinhas, P., Batista, D., Ramos, A.P., Silva, M.C., Oliveira, H. & Várzea, V. (2020) Pathological, morphological, cytogenomic, biochemical and molecular data support the distinction between Colletotrichum cigarro comb. et stat. nov. and Colletotrichum kahawae.Plants-Basel, 9(4), 502. DOI:10.3390/plants9040502 (IF2020 3,935; Q2 Plant Sciences)
The genus Colletotrichum has witnessed tremendous variations over the years in the number of species recognized, ranging from 11 to several hundreds. Host-specific fungal species, once the rule, are now the exception, with polyphagous behavior regarded as normal in this genus. The species Colletotrichum kahawae was created to accommodate the pathogens that have the unique ability to infect green developing coffee berries causing the devastating Coffee Berry Disease in Africa, but its close phylogenetic relationship to a polyphagous group of fungi in the C. gloeosporioides species complex led some researchers to regard these pathogens as members of a wider species. In this work we combine pathological, morphological, cytogenomic, biochemical, and molecular data of a comprehensive set of phylogenetically-related isolates to show that the Coffee Berry Disease pathogen forms a separate species, C. kahawae, and also to assign the closely related fungi, previously in C. kahawae subsp. cigarro, to a new species, C. cigarro comb. et stat. nov. This taxonomic clarification provides an opportunity to link phylogeny and functional biology, and additionally enables a much-needed tool for plant pathology and agronomy, associating exclusively C. kahawae to the Coffee Berry Disease pathogen.