Med Mycol 2007 May;45(3):193-200
CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Early molecular biosystematic studies of dermatophytes created considerable confusion about the taxonomic status of the horse-associated Trichophyton equinum vis-à-vis the anthropophilic T. tonsurans. Though this matter has recently been clarified, routine identification of these species based on the commonly used ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequence has been impractical. This is because, in the available sequences attributed to the species in GenBank, a clear species-level distinction does not appear to exist. In the present study, resequencing the ITS regions of several anomalous isolates is shown to eliminate this problem, which was mainly based on read errors in older sequences. Newly generated sequences and recent GenBank additions are analysed to show that T. equinum appears to be uniform in ITS sequence worldwide, while T. tonsurans is also uniform, excepting a single-base change found in one otherwise typical strain. Analysis also reveals a distinct, as yet incompletely classified Asian genotype that may belong to one or the other of these species. Standard ITS 'barcode sequences' are proposed for T. tonsurans and T. equinum, and a taxonomic neotype is designated to anchor the latter species. T. equinum var. autotrophicum is further evidenced as very closely related to T. equinum var. equinum, and the anomaly of its plesiomorphous phenotype is discussed in a population genetics context.