Phylogeny of Paecilomyces, the causal agent of pistachio and some other trees dieback disease in Iran

Reza Heidarian, Khalil Berdi Fotouhifar*, Alfons J.M. Debets, Duur K. Aanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most important fungal agents of pistachio dieback disease belongs to the ascomycete genus Paecilomyces that has been identified as P. variotii. In 2012–2014, 700 plant samples from pistachio trees and 27 other plant species with dieback symptoms were collected from 10 provinces of Iran. Of the 567 pistachio samples, 277 Paecilomyces strains were obtained and from the 133 samples of other plants (except pistachio and including Pistacia mutica, Punica granatum, Prunus amygdalus, Caesalpinia gilliesii, Nerium oleander, Tamarix aphylla, Tamarix hispida and Haloxylon sp.), 23 fungal isolates were recovered and five isolates were obtained from the air of infected pistachio orchards. Based on morphology, all 305 isolates were identified as P. variotii. Physiological studies revealed that 299 isolates belong to P. formosus. Three isolates were assigned to P. variotii, while three isolates could not be assigned to any of the known species. Of the 305 isolates, 62 were selected for phylogenetic analysis based on DNA variation (ITS, β-tubulin and calmodulin). This analysis showed that all of our isolates form a clade with P. formosus. P. formosus consists of the three former species P. formosa, P. lecythidis and P. maximus. This study shows that our isolates form a strongly supported clade with strains of P. lecythidis. So, the causal agent of dieback disease of pistachio and other examined trees is P. formosus which is closely related to the former species P. lecythidis and has some differences with the former species P. formosa and P. maximus. Based on phylogenetic studies P. formosus thus seems to be a species complex that could be divided into three separate species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0200794
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2018


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