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Extremophiles
Vol. 19 (1) 2015; Pages: 31-37

Thermophilic fungi in the new age of fungal taxonomy

Tássio Brito de Oliveira, Eleni Gomes, Andre Rodrigues

Departamento de Bioquímica e Microbiologia, UNESP - Univ Estadual Paulista, Avenida 24-A, n. 1515, Bela Vista, Rio Claro, SP, 13560-900, Brazil.

Abstract

Thermophilic fungi are of wide interest due to their potential to produce heat-tolerant enzymes for biotechnological processes. However, the taxonomy of such organisms remains obscure, especially given new developments in the nomenclature of fungi. Here, we examine the taxonomy of the thermophilic fungi most commonly used in industry in light of the recent taxonomic changes following the adoption of the International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi and Plants and also based on the movement One Fungus = One Name. Despite the widespread use of these fungi in applied research, several thermotolerant fungi still remain classified as thermophiles. Furthermore, we found that while some thermophilic fungi have had their genomes sequenced, many taxa still do not have barcode sequences of reference strains available in public databases. This lack of basic information is a limiting factor for the species identification of thermophilic fungi and for metagenomic studies in this field. Based on next-generation sequencing, such studies generate large amounts of data, which may reveal new species of thermophilic fungi in different substrates (composting systems, geothermal areas, piles of plant material). As discussed in this study, there are intrinsic problems associated with this method, considering the actual state of the taxonomy of thermophilic fungi. To overcome such difficulties, the taxonomic classification of this group should move towards standardizing the commonly used species names in industry and to assess the possibility of including new systems for describing species based on environmental sequences.

Keywords: Thermophiles; Classification; Name changes; Nomenclature.


 
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