Why species delimitation matters for fungal ecology: Colletotrichum diversity on wild and cultivated cashew in Brazil

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Anthracnose is one of the most important plant diseases globally, occurring on a wide range of cultivated and wild host species. This study aimed to identify the Colletotrichum species associated with cashew anthracnose in Brazil, determine their phylogenetic relationships and geographical distribution, and provide some insight into the factors that may be influencing community composition. Colletotrichum isolates collected from symptomatic leaves, stems, inflorescences, and fruit of cultivated and wild cashew, across four Brazilian biomes, were identified as Colletotrichum chrysophilum, Colletotrichum fragariae, Colletotrichum fructicola, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides sensu stricto, Colletotrichum queenslandicum, Colletotrichum siamense and Colletotrichum tropicale. Colletotrichum siamense was the most dominant species. The greatest species richness was associated with cultivated cashew; leaves harbored more species than the other organs; the Atlantic Forest encompassed more species than the other biomes; and Pernambuco was the most species-rich location. However, accounting for the relative abundance of Colletotrichum species and differences in sample size across strata, the interpretation of which community is most diverse depends on how species are delimited. The present study provides valuable information about the Colletotrichum/cashew pathosystem, sheds light on the causal agents identification,and highlights the impact that species delimitation can have on ecological studies of fungi.

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Fungal biology

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