Two recent molecular analyses of morphologically similar fungal isolates formerly grouped under the appellation “Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV) complex” led to major taxonomic revisions and revealed new insights into the biology of these reptile pathogens. All CANV-complex isolates differed from N. vriesii and were assigned to 16 species, either within Nannizziopsis or within the new genera Paranannizziopsis and Ophidiomyces, and 14 of these species were newly described. From these revisions, a trend in host specificity clearly emerged that was not previously apparent. Nannizziopsis now includes nine species associated with chamaeleonid, gekkonid, cordylid, teiid, agamid, and iguanid lizards; crocodiles; and human hosts. Paranannizziopsis includes four species that infect squamates and tuataras. Ophidiomyces, with the single species Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (formerly Chrysosporium ophiodiicola), is only associated with terrestrial or semiaquatic snakes. Nannizziopsi guarroi (formerly Chrysosporium guarroi) is the main causal agent of yellow fungus disease in captive bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), and O. ophiodiicola is the cause of mycoses in captive snakes and of snake fungal disease, an emergent global threat to populations of endangered wild snakes. Histopathology, polymerase chain reaction assays, and culture are crucial for confirming a diagnosis of fungal infection in reptiles; however, because fungal identification based on morphologic and physiologic features alone is difficult, sequencing should be sought to speciate reptile fungal isolates. Information gathered from PCR assays and molecular speciation will help in outlining pathogenic potential and contagion risks associated with each of these newly recognized fungal species and allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the ecology, distribution, and host range of these pathogens.
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Vol. 26 • No. 1-2