Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

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: A Standalone Romantic Comedy

Smut: A Standalone Romantic Comedy
by Karina Halle (Author)


Smut is a standalone, tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy from the NYT bestselling author of The Pact. --What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?-- All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career. What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is an arrogant jerk (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a...

Fungi: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Fungi: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Nicholas P. Money (Author)


The variety of the mycological world is far greater than most people imagine. Tens of thousands of fungal species have been described and many more are known only from the abundance of their genes in soil and water. Fungi are hugely important as agents of wood decay in forests, and, as parasites, they have caused the deaths of millions of people by ravaging crops and reshaping our natural ecosystems.

Fungi also perform a variety of essential functions in ecosystems, and are important to both agriculture and biotechnology. Their importance is now becoming greatly appreciated among scientists, though there is much still to be understood concerning their taxonomy and evolution. This Very Short Introduction highlights the variety and extraordinary natures of fungi, revealing the...

The Fungi, Third Edition

The Fungi, Third Edition
by Sarah C. Watkinson (Author), Lynne Boddy (Author), Nicholas Money (Author)


The Fungi, Third Edition, offers a comprehensive and thoroughly integrated treatment of the biology of the fungi. This modern synthesis highlights the scientific foundations that continue to inform mycologists today, as well as recent breakthroughs and the formidable challenges in current research. The Fungi combines a wide scope with the depth of inquiry and clarity offered by three leading fungal biologists. The book describes the astonishing diversity of the fungi, their complex life cycles, and intriguing mechanisms of spore release. The distinctive cell biology of the fungi is linked to their development as well as their metabolism and physiology. One of the great advances in mycology in recent decades is the recognition of the vital importance of fungi in the natural environment....

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...

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.

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), Roger Tory Peterson (Editor)


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.

Rust, smut, mildew & mould: Introduction to the study of microscopic fungi

Rust, smut, mildew & mould: Introduction to the study of microscopic fungi
by M. C Cooke (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)




The Smut Fungi. A Guide to the Literature, with Bibiography

The Smut Fungi. A Guide to the Literature, with Bibiography
by George William Fischer (Author)




© 2016 BrightSurf.com