PPath 590 FRIDAY Seminar: The hunt for one of the “Top 50 most-wanted Fungi: Bridging the gap between fungal taxonomy and molecular ecology”

Terry Torres-Cruz

Date and Location

When (Date/Time)

March 30, 2018, 12:20 PM - 1:20 PM


201 Buckhout Laboratory

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(Practice Seminar on Thursday March 22, 12:05 PM)

The use of environmental sequencing has advanced our understanding of the complexity of soil fungal communities, but it often leads to a high proportion of taxonomically unidentifiable sequences, complicating ecological inferences in field studies of organisms only known by their rDNA sequences. Data for many of these microorganisms have been in public databases for years awaiting formal recognition. This problem is exemplified in a dynamic list of ‘most wanted fungi’ available on UNITE (curated fungal ITS barcode sequence database): taxa frequently detected in environmental samples for which no cultures exist and consequently no knowledge regarding their ecological roles. In this study, we evaluated the responses of soil fungal communities to N enrichment in a temperate pine forest using direct sequencing. Illumina amplicon sequencing of these soils detected an abundant, N-responsive fungal genotype of unknown taxonomic affiliation. The taxon was targeted for isolation from specific soil samples where its sequence was abundant. The culturing efforts resulted in two isolates of a new genus and species in the subphylum Mucoromycotina. Isolates were characterized using morphological, genomic, and multilocus molecular data. The fungus, Bifiguratus adelaidae, is dimorphic and associates with a wide variety of bacteria. Sequences for this novel taxon are frequently detected in environmental sequencing around the world, and it represents one of UNITE’s dynamic list of most wanted fungi. This study highlights how the application of molecular ecology can help shed light into taxonomic discoveries, and viceversa.