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Abstract Detail

Mycological Section

Dee, Jaclyn [1], Chang, Ying [1], Auxier, Benjamin [1], Berbee, Mary [1].

Do you even lift? Linking body sculpting gene evolution to gene function across the tree of Fungi.

The emergence of diverse fungal shapes allowed ancestral fungi to conquer new and sometimes bizarre habitats. What was the molecular basis of these adaptations? Our research seeks to link the molecular evolution of fungal body sculpting genes to their roles in molding fungal physiques through time. Molecular genetic and comparative phylogenomic studies of fungal morphogenesis genes such as septins, formins, RhoGTPases, and motor proteins, based largely on a few model yeasts and hyphal fungi from phylum Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, have identified genes that were likely involved in morphological adaptation. Unfortunately, the model fungi that have been studied extensively represent only a portion of global fungal morphological and genetic diversity. Members of the aquatic phylum Chytridiomycota, which diverged early from any of the classical model fungi, exhibit a wide range of thallus types from single cells to sprawling hyphae. Given their striking morphological variation, we predict that analyzing chytridiomycotan morphogenesis genes will reveal innovations in the use of an ancient fungal “morphogenetic toolkit”, a repertoire of body shaping genes present in the earliest fungi, that differ from those of Ascomycota. Our comparative phylogenomic analyses of septins, a family of GTPases involved in cytokinesis and polarized growth, have revealed a higher diversity of septins in Chytridiomycota than in model species of Ascomycota, suggesting novel septin functions in Chytridiomycota that are not shared with Ascomycota. Testing hypotheses about the contribution of the evolution of specific genes to the rise of new phenotypes requires observation of actual genes at work, however, there is currently no reliable genetic transformation system for Chytridiomycota. As proof of principle of the viability of the biolistic method for routine transformation, we are attempting to confer hygromycin resistance on two species of Chytridiomycota using biolistic techniques. By combining comparative phylogenomic and molecular genetic approaches, we can elucidate the mechanisms driving chytridiomycotan thallus evolution, which in turn will shed new light on our overall picture of prehistoric fungal diversification.

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1 - University of British Columbia, Botany, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, BC, V6T-1Z4, Canada

Comparative Genomics
morphogenetic toolkit
gene family evolution
biolistic transformation

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 12
Location: Salon 1/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 2:30 PM
Number: 12005
Abstract ID:531
Candidate for Awards:MSA Best Oral Presentation Award by a Graduate Student

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