The identification of fungi relies mainly on morphological criteria. However, there is a need for robust and definitive phenotypic identification procedures in order to evaluate continuously evolving molecular methods. For the future, there is an emerging consensus that a combined (phenotypic and molecular) approach is more powerful for fungal identification, especially for moulds. Most of the procedures used for phenotypic identification are based on experience rather than comparative studies of effectiveness or performance and there is a need for standardisation among mycology laboratories. This review summarises and evaluates the evidence for the major existing phenotypic identification procedures for the predominant causes of opportunistic mould infection. We have concentrated mainly on Aspergillus, Fusarium and mucoraceous mould species, as these are the most important clinically and the ones for which there are the most molecular taxonomic data.
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Competing interest None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.