Ceratocystis and Ceratocystidaceae

Taken in the broadest sense, Ceratocystis is an important genus of plant pathogens, causing major diseases on trees throughout the world, including oak wilt in Iowa. Two recent reviews on oak wilt are available below.

Many Ceratocystis species have been moved to new continents by humans, and some have caused serious economic and ecological losses (Engelbrecht et al. 2004, 2007; Harrington et al. 2015; Thorpe et al., 2005; Ocasio et al., 2007). A couple of recent reviews have discussed a possible Latin American origin of the oak wilt fungus, C. fagacearum (Harrington 2009; Juzwik et al., 2008).

We have studied the species that attack conifers, which appear to be a monopheletic group (Harrington 2009; Harrington et al., 2002; Witthuhn et al., 1998).

The mating systems of these fungi are of particular interest. Unidirectional mating type switching occurs in Ceratocystis (Harrington and McNew, 1997; Witthuhn et al., 2000), and we have examined interfertility among Ceratocystis species (Harrington and McNew, 1998).

The Ceratocystis fimbriata complex has been the focus of our research, especially the Latin American clade in Brazil and elsewhere (Ferreira et al., 2010, 2011, 2013; Harrington et al., 2011, 2014; Oliveira et al. 2015) and a revision of the North American species (Johnson et al. 2005).

 Illustrations of various diseases caused by Ceratocystis can be found through this link. Diseases of cacao, sweet potato, inhame, fig, mango, coffee, aspen, sycamore, hickory, almond, maple, Nothofagus, palms, and oak are illustrated thus far.

The above link has links to three more specific pages:

1. Ceratocystis fimbriata (broad sense) diseases

2. A special section on Ceratocystis wilt of cacao, caused by C. cacaofunesta

3. Diseases caused by Ceratocystis paradoxa, C. fagacearum, C. virescens and Theilaviopsis australis

 A review of the liturature on Ceratocystis fimbriata and the diseases caused by this complex of species, prepared for CABI's 2001 Crop Protection Compendium, is available:




Click Here For All My Publications on Ceratocystidaceae

  Acquisition of Ceratocystis fagacearum by nitidulid beetles is illustrated by clicking on the thumbnail at left.   Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) on the cliff (left of photo) is showing wilt symptoms due to wattle wilt, caused by Ceratocystis albofundus. This exotic tree is commercially important in southern Africa, where it has also become a serious weed. Wilt is the most serious disease on black wattle. This view is from God's Window, Mpumalanga, South Africa.



Deletion of the MAT-2 idiomorph in unidirectional mating type switching is illustrated by clicking on the gel photo.