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Calonectria pseudonaviculata, the causal agent of the disease of Buxus spp. known as ‘box blight’, was first detected in the mid-1990s in the UK and New Zealand. Since then, the geographic range of box blight has rapidly expanded to at least 21 countries throughout temperate regions of the world, causing significant losses in nurseries, gardens and wild boxwood populations. This study determined the genetic diversity in a collection of 234 Calonectria isolates from diseased Buxus plants, originating from 15 countries and four continents. Two genetic clades, G1 and G2, were identified within this sample using multilocus phylogenetic analysis. The application of genealogical concordance phylogenetic species recognition criteria using four independent nuclear loci determined that the Calonectria isolates in these two clades are separate phylogenetic species. The isolates in the G1 clade were upheld as C. pseudonaviculata sensu stricto. Based on phylogenetic distinctiveness and the lack of mating, a new species is proposed, Calonectria henricotiae sp. nov., for the Calonectria isolates in the G2 clade. A PCR-RFLP assay and real-time PCR assays were developed to easily and reproducibly differentiate these species. To assess the practical implications of the identification of the two species, their physiology, fungicide susceptibility and pathogenicity were compared. No differences in pathogenicity were observed. However, C. henricotiae isolates exhibited greater thermotolerance and reduced sensitivity to specific triazole as well as strobilurin fungicides. The identification of a second phylogenetic species causing box blight may have a substantial impact on the epidemiology and control of this destructive disease.
- 1 Afgerond