Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Molecular phylogeny of the higher and lower taxonomy of the Fusarium genus and differences in the evolutionary histories of multiple genes

Maiko Watanabe1*, Takahiro Yonezawa2, Ken-ichi Lee3, Susumu Kumagai3, Yoshiko Sugita-Konishi1, Keiichi Goto4 and Yukiko Hara-Kudo1

Author affiliations

1 Division of Microbiology, National Institute of Health Sciences, Kamiyoga 1-18-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-8501, Japan

2 School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, 220, Handan Rd. 200433, Shanghai, China

3 Veterinary Medical Science, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan

4 Food Research Laboratories, Mitsui Norin Co., Ltd., Miyabara 223-1, Fujieda-shi, Shizuoka 426-0133, Japan

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:322  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-322

Published: 3 November 2011



Species of the Fusarium genus are important fungi which is associated with health hazards in human and animals. The taxonomy of this genus has been a subject of controversy for many years. Although many researchers have applied molecular phylogenetic analysis to examine the taxonomy of Fusarium species, their phylogenetic relationships remain unclear only few comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of the Fusarium genus and a lack of suitable nucleotides and amino acid substitution rates. A previous stugy with whole genome comparison among Fusairum species revealed the possibility that each gene in Fusarium genomes has a unique evolutionary history, and such gene may bring difficulty to the reconstruction of phylogenetic tree of Fusarium. There is a need not only to check substitution rates of genes but also to perform the exact evaluation of each gene-evolution.


We performed phylogenetic analyses based on the nucleotide sequences of the rDNA cluster region (rDNA cluster), and the β-tubulin gene (β-tub), the elongation factor 1α gene (EF-1α), and the aminoadipate reductase gene (lys2). Although incongruence of the tree topologies between lys2 and the other genes was detected, all genes supported the classification of Fusarium species into 7 major clades, I to VII. To obtain a reliable phylogeny for Fusarium species, we excluded the lys2 sequences from our dataset, and re-constructed a maximum likelihood (ML) tree based on the combined data of the rDNA cluster, β-tub, and EF-1α. Our ML tree indicated some interesting relationships in the higher and lower taxa of Fusarium species and related genera. Moreover, we observed a novel evolutionary history of lys2. We suggest that the unique tree topologies of lys2 are not due to an analytical artefact, but due to differences in the evolutionary history of genomes caused by positive selection of particular lineages.


This study showed the reliable species tree of the higher and lower taxonomy in the lineage of the Fusarium genus. Our ML tree clearly indicated 7 major clades within the Fusarium genus. Furthermore, this study reported differences in the evolutionary histories among multiple genes within this genus for the first time.