Science Current Events | Science News |

2-timing and hybrids: RUB researchers look back on 100 million years of evolution

January 17, 2012
Smut fungi can mate with other species despite great genetic differences

Two-timing is nothing out of the ordinary for them: for about 100 million years, grass smut fungi have been breeding in a three-gender system. This was discovered by Dr. Ronny Kellner and Prof. Dr. Dominik Begerow of the RUB Geobotany Laboratory in cooperation with colleagues from the Heinrich Heine Universität in Düsseldorf. Using genetic analysis, they showed that the structure of the responsible regions in the genome has hardly changed since then. In the journal PLoS Genetics, the team also reports that the fungi in the experiment not only mate within their own species, but also form hybrids with other species - and that after millions of years of separate evolution. "If you look at the time periods, it is almost as if mice could mate with humans" Begerow illustrates.

Gathering and genetically analysing fungi

Grass smut fungi live as parasites on plants such as corn, wheat, and grasses and cause various plant diseases. For the study, the researchers tested 100 species, which they partly gathered themselves in Ecuador, Mexico, or Germany. For all the species they decoded the area of the genome that contains the genes for pheromone receptors. These make it possible to distinguish one's own species from others. "What makes the work special is the successful synthesis of biodiversity research and functional genetics, which was made possible by the collaboration with Prof. Michael Feldbrügge and with Dr. Evelyn Vollmeister of the University in Düsseldorf" says Kellner.

How genes change over 100 million years

The researchers analysed ten species especially thoroughly using complex sequencing technologies. Instead of the usual 1,000 DNA building blocks (base pairs), they sequenced 20,000 base pairs. "In this way, we were able to gain entirely new insights" explained Begerow. "Although the actual gene structure has changed little in the last 100 million years, within the structure, the genetic information has changed dramatically. That should really mean that different species can no longer mate with each other".

Mixing with other species

Nevertheless, in the experiment the team proved that grass smut fungi of different species can mate. Now they want to investigate whether this phenomenon also occurs in nature. "This is a fascinating discovery", says Kellner. "The hybrid formation would have far-reaching ecological consequences." A new species of fungus could, for example, be more harmful than its two predecessor species because it infests several different host plants. Leaps to new hosts would also be conceivable. "It's like in the current debate surrounding the bird flu virus, which could combine with another strain of the virus" explained Begerow. "Here, new 'super parasites' could emerge whose properties are completely unpredictable. If different species of fungi did actually mate, that would speed up evolution enormously."

Ruhr-University Bochum

Related Smut Fungi Current Events and Smut Fungi News Articles

Evolutionary arms race between smut fungi and maize plants
Fungi are a major cause of plant diseases and are responsible for large-scale harvest failure in crops like maize and other cereals all over the world.
More Smut Fungi Current Events and Smut Fungi News Articles

  Smut Fungi of the World
by APS (Publisher)

Illustrated Genera of Smut Fungi

Illustrated Genera of Smut Fungi
by Kalman Vanky (Author)

Illustrated Genera of Smut Fungi, 2nd Edition provides clear, concise, and up-to-date information on these important plant parasitic micro fungi. Completely rewritten and greatly expanded, the second edition explores the 77 recognized, and 12 doubtful or recently excluded, genera of smut fungi. With 182 new illustrations and 40 chapters more that the first edition, this comprehensive resource helps anyone interested in smut fungi to easily find and classify smut specimens into genera with a high degree of accuracy.

This key reference presents information on smut fungi and their life cycle as well as principles, trends and problems of classification. Readers will learn about the latest classificatory system of smuts and allied fungi, including ultrastructural characters, the known...

  Smut fungi (Ustilaginomycetes and Microbotryales, Basidiomycota) in Panama.: An article from: Revista de Biología Tropical
by Meike Piepenbring (Author)

This digital document is an article from Revista de Biología Tropical, published by Universidad de Costa Rica on June 1, 2001. The length of the article is 8868 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.

Citation Details
Title: Smut fungi (Ustilaginomycetes and Microbotryales, Basidiomycota) in Panama.
Author: Meike Piepenbring
Publication: Revista de Biología Tropical (Refereed)
Date: June 1, 2001
Publisher: Universidad de Costa Rica
Volume: 49 Issue: 2 Page: 411(18)

Distributed by Thomson...

Beating Cancer with Nutrition, book with CD

Beating Cancer with Nutrition, book with CD
by Patrick Quillin (Author)

Beating Cancer with Nutrition. Sugar feeds Cancer: diet and supplements can starve tumors· Nutrition makes chemo and radiation more toxic to the tumor while protecting the patient. Nutrition changes underlying causes of cancer, improving outcome for cancer patients regardless of other therapies. Why Beating Cancer with Nutrition is unique: The book was developed after working with over 500 cancer patients and organizing 3 international symposiums on the subject. The information contained in BCN is both scientifically backed with references and clinically proven in the hospital with patients. This information helps cancer patients to improve quality and quantity of life. BCN had been translated into Japanese and Chinese and is being translated into Korean. BCN had become a home study...

A Field Guide to Mushrooms: North America (Peterson Field Guides)

A Field Guide to Mushrooms: North America (Peterson Field Guides)
by Kent H. McKnight (Author), Vera B. McKnight (Author), Vera B. McKnight (Illustrator), Roger Tory Peterson (Illustrator)

More than 1,000 species of mushrooms described in detail. Over 700 paintings and drawings reveal subtle field marks that cannot be captured into photographs.

Black Melt: A Sci-Smut-Horror-Fi Tale

Black Melt: A Sci-Smut-Horror-Fi Tale

A recovered meteorite from the heart of the Atlantic Ocean proves to be far more interesting when extraterrestrial fungal life is found growing within. Dr. Madison Davis, a medical mycologist, is brought in as part of a team to investigate the new-found life and determine what secrets it holds and what dangers it might present.

Descending a quarter of a mile underground to a top secret research laboratory, Madison discovers that sometimes the smallest things can be the most deadly.

The Litter of the Law: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

The Litter of the Law: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
by Rita Mae Brown (Author)

Rita Mae Brown collaborates with feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown in a new mystery starring Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, the curious cat detectives Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker, the valiant crime-solving corgi. Halloween arrives early this year to rural central Virginia, when a twisted killer will stop at nothing to protect a multimillion-dollar scheme.
Autumn has descended and crops are being harvested all over Crozet, Virginia, ideal conditions for a scenic drive for Harry and husband Fair. Bucolic views are all well and good, but Harry’s nose for trouble leads her straight to a cornfield’s macabre scarecrow—an all too real murder victim that frightens all but the noisy crows.
This accountant’s gruesome death...

Biology and control of the smut fungi

Biology and control of the smut fungi
by George William Fischer (Author)

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World
by Sandor Ellix Katz (Author), Michael Pollan (Foreword)

  Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners. While Katz expertly contextualizes fermentation in terms of biological and cultural evolution, health and nutrition, and even economics, this is primarily a compendium of practical information—how the processes work; parameters for safety; techniques for effective preservation; troubleshooting;...

The Smut Fungi: A Guide To The Literature, With Bibliography

The Smut Fungi: A Guide To The Literature, With Bibliography
by George William Fischer (Author)

© 2014