Several plant pathogenic Parastagonospora species have been identified infecting wheat and other cereals over the past 50 years. As new lineages were discovered, naming conventions grew unwieldy and the relationships with previously recognized species remained unclear. We used genome sequencing to clarify relationships among these species and provided new names for most of these species. Six of the nine described Parastagonospora species were recovered from wheat, with five of these species coming from Iran. Genome sequences revealed that three strains thought to be hybrids between P. nodorum and P. pseudonodorum were not actually hybrids, but rather represented rare gene introgressions between those species. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that P. nodorum originated as a pathogen of wild grasses in the Fertile Crescent, then emerged as a wheat pathogen via host-tracking during the domestication of wheat in the same region. The discovery of a diverse array of Parastagonospora species infecting wheat in Iran suggests that new wheat pathogens could emerge from this region in the future.

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Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Persoonia - Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi

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Naturalis journals & series

Croll, D., Crous, P.W., Pereira, D., Mordecai, E.A., McDonald, B.A., & Brunner, P.C. (2021). Genome-scale phylogenies reveal relationships among Parastagonospora species infecting domesticated and wild grasses. Persoonia - Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi, 46, 116–128. doi:10.3767/persoonia.2021.46.04