The members of the genus Fusarium are among the most important plant pathogens in the world. In recent years the genus has acquired additional importance as many Fusarium species have been shown to produce mycotoxins causing both animal and human diseases. One of the problems encountered by workers interested in Fusarium species, particularly in the toxigenic species, is correct identification of each strain. This problem was the impetus for the preparation of this volume.The taxonomy of the genus Fusarium has been the subject of controversy for many years. Die Fusarien, published in 1935 by Wollenweber and Reinking, has been used as a starting point in this book. Since 1935 several other taxonomic systems have been proposed for this genus. These systems vary from one with over 90 species to one with only nine species; several other systems fall between these two extremes. All of these systems are based on the work of Wollenwebër, and although each system has something to offer, none of them is satisfactory by itself for the identification of all Fusarium species. In this volume we have selected the best features of several systems and combined them in a compromise system that will allow the individual worker to identify Fusarium species using several of the current taxonomic systems. The identification of species is facilitated by synoptic keys for the sections and species. These keys offer the user the choice of many characters in identifying the culture, and the keys may be entered at any point.The keys are supplemented by comprehensive descriptions of each species and black-and-white photographs showing the salient morphological features and the extent of variation within each species.The names of the Fusarium species currently in use are listed in the index, enabling the user to find the necessary information for identification regardless of the taxonomic system being used. The description of each species contains the synonyms from each of the current taxonomic systems to further guide the user. Thus, the user of this book can begin with the name of a Fusarium species and use the index to find the necessary information, or the user can begin with the synoptic keys and be led to the proper information by that route. The book also contains a thorough explanation of the proper methods for preparing cultures from collected isolates; following these procedures will assure the user the greatest accuracy in matching the morphological characteristics of laboratory cultures to the photomicrographs in the book. A series of color plates of cultures from the Fusarium Research Center collection, provided to assist in color identification, obviates the need for cumbersome color charts.
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P.E. Nelson and T.A. Toussoun are Professors of Plant Pathology and codirectors of the Fusarium Research Center at The Pennsylvania State University. Both took their Ph.D.'s at the University of California, Berkeley. W.F.O. Marasas is a University of Wisconsin Ph.D., currently at the National Research Institute for Nutritional Diseases, South Africa.
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