Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Colletotrichum species cause anthracnose diseases on a number of grass hosts and are common inhabitants of many others. They are divided into four species: C. sublineolum is pathogenic to Sorghum spp.; C. caudatum is found on C4 grasses such as indiangrass and big bluestem; C. falcatum causes red rot of sugarcane; and C. graminicola sensu lato is a broadly defined species including isolates that attack maize, wheat, oats, and many forage, turf, and amenity grasses of the subfamily Pooideae. In this paper, a combination of hierarchal- and nonhierarchal-based analyses were employed to examine evolutionary relationships among the grass-infecting Colletotrichum species, with special emphasis on isolates from turf and other grasses in the subfamily Pooideae. Reconstructions performed with data sets from over 100 Colletotrichum isolates at three variable loci using phylogenetic and network-based methodologies unambiguously supported the taxonomic separation of maize-infecting isolates of C. graminicola from the pooid-infecting strains of Colletotrichum. To reflect the evolutionary relationships that exist between these distinct lineages, we propose the resurrection of the species name C. cereale to describe the pooid-infecting isolates. There was also support for further subdivision of C. cereale, but the current data are insufficient to confidently subdivide the species, as there was some evidence of recombination between lineages of this species.