Large-spored Alternaria pathogens in section Porri disentangled.
The omnipresent fungal genus Alternaria was recently divided into 24 sections based on molecular and morphological data. Alternaria sect. Porri is the largest section, containing almost all Alternaria species with medium to large conidia and long beaks, some of which are important plant pathogens (e.g. Alternaria porri, A. solani and A. tomatophila). We constructed a multi-gene phylogeny on parts of the ITS, GAPDH, RPB2, TEF1 and Alt a 1 gene regions, which, supplemented with morphological and cultural studies, forms the basis for species recognition in sect. Porri. Our data reveal 63 species, of which 10 are newly described in sect. Porri, and 27 species names are synonymised. The three known Alternaria pathogens causing early blight on tomato all cluster in one clade, and are synonymised under the older name, A. linariae. Alternaria protenta, a species formerly only known as pathogen on Helianthus annuus, is also reported to cause early blight of potato, together with A. solani and A. grandis. Two clades with isolates causing purple blotch of onion are confirmed as A. allii and A. porri, but the two species cannot adequately be distinguished based on the number of beaks and branches as suggested previously. This is also found among the pathogens of Passifloraceae, which are reduced from four to three species. In addition to the known pathogen of sweet potato, A. bataticola, three more species are delineated of which two are newly described. A new Alternaria section is also described, comprising two large-spored Alternaria species with concatenate conidia.