Molecular diversity and distribution of marine fungi


Published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Molecular diversity and distribution of marine fungi across 130 European environmental samples

Thomas A. Richards, Guy Leonard, Frédéric Mahé, Javier del Campo, Sarah Romac, Meredith D. M. Jones, Finlay Maguire, Micah Dunthorn, Colomban De Vargas, Ramon Massana, Aurélie Chambouvet

Environmental DNA and culture-based analyses have suggested that fungi are present in low diversity and in low abundance in many marine environments, especially in the upper water column. Here, we use a dual approach involving high-throughput diversity tag sequencing from both DNA and RNA templates and fluorescent cell counts to evaluate the diversity and relative abundance of fungi across marine samples taken from six European near-shore sites. We removed very rare fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) selecting only OTUs recovered from multiple samples for a detailed analysis. This approach identified a set of 71 fungal ‘OTU clusters’ that account for 66% of all the sequences assigned to the Fungi. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that this diversity includes a significant number of chytrid-like lineages that had not been previously described, indicating that the marine environment encompasses a number of zoosporic fungi that are new to taxonomic inventories. Using the sequence datasets, we identified cases where fungal OTUs were sampled across multiple geographical sites and between different sampling depths. This was especially clear in one relatively abundant and diverse phylogroup tentatively named Novel Chytrid-Like-Clade 1 (NCLC1). For comparison, a subset of the water column samples was also investigated using fluorescent microscopy to examine the abundance of eukaryotes with chitin cell walls. Comparisons of relative abundance of RNA-derived fungal tag sequences and chitin cell-wall counts demonstrate that fungi constitute a low fraction of the eukaryotic community in these water column samples. Taken together, these results demonstrate the phylogenetic position and environmental distribution of 71 lineages, improving our understanding of the diversity and abundance of fungi in marine environments.

Convergent evolution of lifestyles in close relatives of animals and fungi

genopisPublished in Current Biology

Phylogenomics Reveals Convergent Evolution of Lifestyles in Close Relatives of Animals and Fungi

Guifré Torruella, Alex de Mendoza, Xavier Grau-Bové, Meritxell Antó, Mark A. Chaplin, Javier del Campo, Laura Eme, Gregorio Pérez-Cordón, Christopher M. Whipps, Krista M. Nichols, Richard Paley, Andrew J. Roger, Ariadna Sitjà-Bobadilla, Stuart Donachie, Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo

The Opisthokonta are a eukaryotic supergroup divided in two main lineages: animals and related protistan taxa, and fungi and their allies [1 and 2]. There is a great diversity of lifestyles and morphologies among unicellular opisthokonts, from free-living phagotrophic flagellated bacterivores and filopodiated amoebas to cell-walled osmotrophic parasites and saprotrophs. However, these characteristics do not group into monophyletic assemblages, suggesting rampant convergent evolution within Opisthokonta. To test this hypothesis, we assembled a new phylogenomic dataset via sequencing 12 new strains of protists. Phylogenetic relationships among opisthokonts revealed independent origins of filopodiated amoebas in two lineages, one related to fungi and the other to animals. Moreover, we observed that specialized osmotrophic lifestyles evolved independently in fungi and protistan relatives of animals, indicating convergent evolution. We therefore analyzed the evolution of two key fungal characters in Opisthokonta, the flagellum and chitin synthases. Comparative analyses of the flagellar toolkit showed a previously unnoticed flagellar apparatus in two close relatives of animals, the filasterean Ministeria vibrans and Corallochytrium limacisporum. This implies that at least four different opisthokont lineages secondarily underwent flagellar simplification. Analysis of the evolutionary history of chitin synthases revealed significant expansions in both animals and fungi, and also in the Ichthyosporea and C. limacisporum, a group of cell-walled animal relatives. This indicates that the last opisthokont common ancestor had a complex toolkit of chitin synthases that was differentially retained in extant lineages. Thus, our data provide evidence for convergent evolution of specialized lifestyles in close relatives of animals and fungi from a generalist ancestor.

Diversity and distribution of marine unicellular opisthokonts


Published in Environmental Microbiology

Diversity and distribution of unicellular opisthokonts along the European coast analysed using high-throughput sequencing

Javier del Campo, Diego Mallo, Ramon Massana, Colomban de Vargas, Thomas A. Richards and Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo

The opisthokonts are one of the major super groups of eukaryotes. It comprises two major clades: (i) the Metazoa and their unicellular relatives and (ii) the Fungi and their unicellular relatives. There is, however, little knowledge of the role of opisthokont microbes in many natural environments, especially among non-metazoan and non-fungal opisthokonts. Here, we begin to address this gap by analysing high-throughput 18S rDNA and 18S rRNA sequencing data from different European coastal sites, sampled at different size fractions and depths. In particular, we analyse the diversity and abundance of choanoflagellates, filastereans, ichthyosporeans, nucleariids, corallochytreans and their related lineages. Our results show the great diversity of choanoflagellates in coastal waters as well as a relevant representation of the ichthyosporeans and the uncultured marine opisthokonts (MAOP). Furthermore, we describe a new lineage of marine fonticulids (MAFO) that appears to be abundant in sediments. Taken together, our work points to a greater potential ecological role for unicellular opisthokonts than previously appreciated in marine environments, both in water column and sediments, and also provides evidence of novel opisthokont phylogenetic lineages. This study highlights the importance of high-throughput sequencing approaches to unravel the diversity and distribution of both known and novel eukaryotic lineages.