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Genome studies uncover a new branch in fungal evolution

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A class of its own: According to U of A researchers, Earth’s tongue is one of 600 “strange” fungi found to share a common ancestor dating back 300 million years.Credit: Alan Rockefeller

A University of Alberta-led research team used genome sequencing to give these unique creatures their own taxonomic home.

“They don’t have certain features you can see naked eye We can say that they belong to the same group.But when you go to genomeand all of a sudden this pops up,” says Toby Spribolle, principal investigator on the project and an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

“I like to think of these as the platypus and echidna of the fungal world.”

Spribille, Canada Research Chair of Symbiosis, refers to monotremes (milk-producing, nipple-bearing, but egg-laying) that defy Australia’s well-known Linnaean classification system.

“No one thought our fungi were fake, but they all look so different that they look alike.”

Using DNA-based dating techniques, the team found that this new class of fungi, called Lichinomycetes, descended from a single origin 300 million years ago, or 240 million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs. Did.

Dr. David Diaz-Escandón, who conducted the research as part of his PhD, said: The paper explains that these “weird” fungi were previously scattered across seven different classes, a high-level group that in animals corresponds to groups called mammals and reptiles.

Working with a team of researchers from seven countries to obtain material from fungi, we sequenced 30 genomes and found that all but one class were derived from a single origin.

“They were classified, but they were in very different parts of the fungal side of the tree of life, so people never suspected they were related to each other,” says Díaz-Escandón. increase.

These fungi include a wide variety of forms, including tongues of the earth (eerie, tongue-shaped fungi that stick out vertically from the ground), gut microbes in beetles, and fungi found in tree sap in northern Alberta. It also contains rare lichens that survive in extreme habitats such as South America’s Atacama Desert (the driest non-polar desert in the world).

“What’s really interesting is that even though these fungi look very different, they have a lot in common at the genomic level,” says Spribille. “No one saw this coming.”

Based on the smaller genome compared to other fungi, the team predicts that this fungal group depends on other organisms for life.

“Their small genomes mean that this class of fungi has lost much of its ability to integrate several complex carbohydrates.” You can see that there is a kind of symbiotic relationship.”

He points out that the new work is important for a broader study of fungal evolution, particularly how fungi inherit important biotechnological features such as enzymes that degrade plants. .

This new group could also be a new source of information about past fungal extinctions.

“I think the diversity we see today is likely just the tip of the surviving iceberg, and there are not many examples of this kind. fungi.”

Research will be published online in journals biology today.

For more information:
Toby Spribille, Genome-level analysis reveals ancient lineage of commensal ascomycetes. biology today (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.11.014

Quote: Genome study reveals new branch of fungal evolution (November 23, 2022) November 23, 2022 https://phys.org/news/2022-11-genome-uncover-fungal Taken from -evolution.html

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