A Comprehensive Protocol for Improving the Description of Saprolegniales (Oomycota): Two Practical Examples (Saprolegnia aenigmatica sp. nov. and Saprolegnia racemosa sp. nov.)

PLoS One. 2015 Jul 17;10(7):e0132999. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132999. eCollection 2015.


The description, identification and classification of organisms are the pillar in biodiversity and evolutionary studies. The fungal-like organism Saprolegnia contains important animal pathogens. However, its taxonomy is weak, making it difficult to perform further studies. This problem mainly arises from the unavailability of suitable holotypes. We propose a standardized protocol for describing Saprolegnia spp. that includes good cultural practices and proper holotype preservation. In order to illustrate this new proposal, we describe two species, Saprolegnia aenigmatica sp. nov. and Saprolegnia racemosa sp. nov., based on the recently described molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs), phylogenetic relationships, and the analyses of morphological features. We show that they belong to two different MOTUs that are grouped into two sister clades. Morphologically, we find that S. racemosa exhibits a species-specific character, i.e., aggrupation of oogonia in racemes, while S. aenigmatica does not have any specific characters. Analyses of a combined set of characters, i.e., length and breadth of sporangia, length/breadth ratio (l/b) of oogonia, cyst and oospore diameter, and the number of oospores per oogomium, allow distinguishing these two species. To improve Saprolegnia taxonomy, we propose to incorporate into the protologue: (i) several isolates of the new species; (ii) the rDNA sequences to compare them to data-bases of Saprolegnia sequences of reference; (iii) a phylogenetic analysis to check relationships with other species; (iv) to preserve holotypes in absolute ethanol and to include lyophilized material from holotype; and (v) the ex-type as a pure culture from single-spore isolates stored in at least two different collections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer
  • Phylogeny
  • Saprolegnia / classification*
  • Saprolegnia / cytology
  • Saprolegnia / genetics


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer

Grants and funding

The funding or sources of support were grants of: (1) European Union (ITN-SAPRO-238550), (2) Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL2012-39357), which supported lab-bench expenses, experiments, and sampling, and (3) Foundation San Ignacio del Huinay, Endesa, Chile, which supported sampling expenses in the field station of San Ignacio del Huinay Chile. Moreover, José V. Sandoval-Sierra was supported by fellowships from ITN-SAPRO-238550 and Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL2012-39357). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.