Fungal DNA barcoding Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Fungi are ubiquitous in both natural and human-made environments. They play important roles in the health of plants, animals, and humans, and in broad ecosystem functions. Thus, having an efficient species-level identification system could significantly enhance our ability to treat fungal diseases and to monitor the spatial and temporal patterns of fungal distributions and migrations. DNA barcoding is a potent approach for rapid identification of fungal specimens, generating novel species hypothesis, and guiding biodiversity and ecological studies. In this mini-review, I briefly summarize (i) the history of DNA sequence-based fungal identification; (ii) the emergence of the ITS region as the consensus primary fungal barcode; (iii) the use of the ITS barcodes to address a variety of issues on fungal diversity from local to global scales, including generating a large number of species hypothesis; and (iv) the problems with the ITS barcode region and the approaches to overcome these problems. Similar to DNA barcoding research on plants and animals, significant progress has been achieved over the last few years in terms of both the questions being addressed and the foundations being laid for future research endeavors. However, significant challenges remain. I suggest three broad areas of research to enhance the usefulness of fungal DNA barcoding to meet the current and future challenges: (i) develop a common set of primers and technologies that allow the amplification and sequencing of all fungi at both the primary and secondary barcode loci; (ii) compile a centralized reference database that includes all recognized fungal species as well as species hypothesis, and allows regular updates from the research community; and (iii) establish a consensus set of new species recognition criteria based on barcode DNA sequences that can be applied across the fungal kingdom.

publication date

  • November 2016

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