The emergence of wattle wilt disease on non-native Acacia mearnsii trees in Africa, caused by the
indigenous fungus Ceratocystis albifundus, has highlighted a need to better understand the diversity,
ecology and distribution of Ceratocystis species in natural African environments. In this study we applied
phylogenetic inference to identify and characterize isolates of Ceratocystis collected in a natural savanna
ecosystem in South Africa. Three new species were recognized and are described as C. cryptoformis sp.
nov. in the C. moniliformis complex, as well as C. thulamelensis sp. nov. and C. zambeziensis sp. nov.,
both residing in the C. fimbriata complex. Incorporating the new species into global phylogenies of
Ceratocystis provided insights into the patterns of evolution and biogeography of this group of fungi.
Notably, the African continent was identified as an important centre of diversification of Ceratocystis
spp., from which several lineages of these fungi were shown to have radiated.