A previously undescribed Trichophyton species was isolated from the nail of a 33-year-old man with a history of probable distal lateral subungual onychomycosis (without confirmation by mycological examination). The infection occurred for the first time five years earlier (in 2006) and affected the right great toenail, with complete clinical remission after treatment with ciclopirox olamine. This undescribed species was isolated during probable relapse in 2011, but its etiological significance was not confirmed, that is, direct microscopy was negative and additional clinical samples were not collected. The species is probably geophilic based on phylogenetic analysis (internal transcribed spacer [ITS] rDNA) and is most closely related to the anamorphic T. thuringiense, homothallic Arthroderma ciferrii (anamorph T. georgiae), and heterothallic A. melis. The new species is characterized by yellowish colonies, red reverse on several media, positive urease test, negative hair-perforation test, absence of growth at 34°C, absence of macroconidia, formation of one-celled clavate microconidia, and spiral hyphae. The species grows well on sterilized human hairs placed on agar medium without any additional nutrients and forms gymnothecium-like structures covered by peridial hyphae. The combination of unique micro- and macromorphological features and physiological and sequence data from four unlinked loci (ITS, benA, RPB2, and act1 gene) justified the proposal of a new species T. onychocola sp. nov.
Keywords: Arthroderma; Onygenales; geophilic dermatophytes; keratinophilic fungi; onychomycosis; tinea unguinum.