Comprehensive molecular phylogenetic analysis and evolution of the genus Phyllactinia (Ascomycota: Erysiphales) and its allied genera

Susumu Takamatsu, Mihoko Inagaki, Seiko Niinomi, Seyed Akbar Khodaparast, Hyeon Dong Shin, Banga Grigaliunaite, Maria Havrylenko

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Phyllactinia is a unique genus within the Erysiphales (Ascomycota) having a partly endo-parasitic nature of the mycelium within the host plant tissues. We constructed phylogenetic trees for the genus Phyllactinia and its allied genera based on a total of 120 nucleotide sequences of the 28S rDNA and ITS regions to discuss their phylogenetic relationships with special references to host plants, biogeography, evolutionary dating, and taxonomy. The analysis of the Erysiphales confirmed the monophyly of the endo-parasitic genera, i.e. Leveillula, Phyllactinia, and Pleochaeta. Phyllactinia specimens used in this study were divided into six distinctive groups and three subgroups. Interestingly, Leveillula, an obligately endo-parasitic genus of the Erysiphales, grouped together with Phyllactinia, although this was not significantly supported by the Kishino-Hasegawa and Shimodaira-Hasegawa tests. This suggests that the evolution within this group of fungi occurred from partial endo-parasitism to obligate endo-parasitism. The host range of Phyllactinia is mostly confined to woody plants, especially deciduous trees. Betulaceae, Fagaceae, Ulmaceae, Moraceae, and Rosaceae may have close connections to the divergence of the groups and subgroups of Phyllactinia concerned. Most of these plant families are known as major members of the boreotropical flora of the Tertiary, which suggests an early Tertiary origin of this genus. A comparison of the phylogenies of hosts and parasites revealed that host range expansion at higher taxonomic levels (higher than family level) is independent of the phylogeny of plants. Conversely, host range expansions in lower taxonomic levels (infrafamilial or infrageneric) tend to occur within a single family or genus. An estimation of the evolutionary timing using a molecular clock approach suggested that Phyllactinia split from Pleochaeta about 60 M years ago (Ma) in the early Tertiary and divergence of the six major clades of Phyllactinia occurred between 5 and 40 Ma during the Oligocene and Miocene. Divergence within the major clades and within Leveillula occurred maybe from more than 5 Ma onwards during the Pliocene and Quaternary. This is the first comprehensive phylogenetic study of Phyllactinia and other endo-parasitic genera of the Erysiphales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-315
Number of pages17
JournalMycological Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are indebted to Uwe Braun, Yukihiko Nomura, Yukio Sato, Seinosuke Tanda, and Ru-yong Zheng for kindly sending Phyllactinia specimens, and also to the corresponding Editor and anonymous reviewers for suggestions and editorial comments. S. T. thanks the late Koji Amano (formerly Koji Hirata) who provided many helpful suggestions and an opportunity to study powdery mildew fungi. This work was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (15405021) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • 28S rDNA
  • Biogeography
  • Leveillula
  • Molecular clock
  • Species concepts
  • rDNA ITS region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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