Phylogenomics reveals extensive misidentification of fungal strains from the genus Aspergillus

Jacob L. Steenwyk, Charu Balamurugan, Huzefa A. Raja, Carla Gonçalves, Ningxiao Li, Frank Martin, Judith Berman, Nicholas H. Oberlies, John G. Gibbons, Gustavo H. Goldman, David M. Geiser, Jos Houbraken, David S. Hibbett, Antonis Rokas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern taxonomic classification is often based on phylogenetic analyses of a few molecular markers, although single-gene studies are still common. Here, we leverage genome-scale molecular phylogenetics (phylogenomics) of species and populations to reconstruct evolutionary relationships in a dense data set of 710 fungal genomes from the biomedically and technologically important genus Aspergillus. To do so, we generated a novel set of 1,362 high-quality molecular markers specific for Aspergillus and provided profile Hidden Markov Models for each, facilitating their use by others. Examining the resulting phylogeny helped resolve ongoing taxonomic controversies, identified new ones, and revealed extensive strain misidentification (7.59% of strains were previously misidentified), underscoring the importance of population-level sampling in species classification. These findings were corroborated using the current standard, taxonomically informative loci. These findings suggest that phylogenomics of species and populations can facilitate accurate taxonomic classifications and reconstructions of the Tree of Life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Aspergillaceae
  • KEYWORDS taxogenomics
  • Penicillium
  • genomics
  • pathogen
  • pathogenicity
  • plant pathogen
  • taxonomy
  • virulence


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