Phylogeny, ecology and taxonomy of systemic pathogens and their relatives in Ajellomycetaceae (Onygenales); Blastomyces, Emergomyces, Emmonsia, Emmonsiellopsis
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The family Ajellomycetaceae (Onygenales) includes mammal-associated pathogens within the genera Blastomyces, Emmonsia, Histoplasma and Paracoccidioides, as well as the recently described genera, Emergomyces that causes disease in immunocompromised hosts, and Emmonsiellopsis, known only from soil. To further assess the phylogenetic relationships among and between members of these genera and several previously undescribed species, we sequenced and analyzed the DNA-directed RNA polymerase II (rPB2), translation elongation factor 3-alpha (TEF3), beta-tubulin (TUB2), 28S large subunit rDNA (LSU) and the internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS) in 68 strains, in addition to morphological and physiological investigations. To better understand the thermal dimorphism among these fungi, the dynamic process of transformation from mycelial to yeast-like or adiaspore-like forms was also assessed over a range of temperatures (6-42 degrees C). Molecular data resolved the relationships and recognized five major well-supported lineages that correspond largely to the genus level. Emmonsia, typified by Emmonsia parva, is a synonym of Blastomyces that also accommodates Blastomyces helicus (formerly Emmonsia helica). Emmonsia crescens is phylogenetically distinct, and found closely related to a single strain from soil without known etiology. Blastomyces silverae, Emergomyces canadensis, Emergomyces europaeus and Emmonsia sola are newly described. Almost all of the taxa are associated with human and animal disease. Emmonsia crescens, B. dermatitidis and B. parvus are prevalently associated with pulmonary disease in humans or animals. Blastomyces helicus, B. percursus, Emergomyces africanus, Es. canadensis, Es. europaeus, Es. orientalis and Es. pasteurianus (formerly Emmonsia pasteuriana) are predominantly found in human hosts with immune disorders; no animal hosts are known for these species except B. helicus.