Navigation Links
Friends with benefits
Date:7/18/2012

Harvard researchers are unlocking the evolutionary secrets of one of the world's most recognizable groups of mushrooms, and to do it, they're using one of the most comprehensive fungal "family trees" ever created.

As reported in paper published July 18 in PLoS ONE, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Anne Pringle and Ben Wolfe, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in FAS Center for Systems Biology, studied the genetics of more 100 species of Amanita mushrooms about one-sixth of the genus' total diversity to create an elaborate phylogeny showing how each species is related to one another.

Arguably the most widely-recognized group of mushrooms in the world, Amanita mushrooms have appeared in popular culture ranging from Fantasia to the Super Mario Brothers video games. Though it includes a number of edible species, such as the Amanita caesarea, the group is probably best known for its many toxic species, including the death-cap mushroom.

Armed with their family tree, Pringle and Wolfe were able to determine that Amanita evolution has largely been away from species that help decompose organic material and toward those that live symbiotically on trees and their roots. More interestingly, they found that the transition came at a steep price the loss of the genes associated with breaking down cellulose.

"There had been earlier suggestions that this type of gene loss might be taking place, but our study is the first precise test of that hypothesis," Pringle said. "The idea makes sense if you're going to actively form a cooperative relationship with a tree, you probably shouldn't simultaneously be trying to break it apart and eat it. But it's a very tricky dance to form these kinds of tight, cooperative interactions, and I think this work shows there is a cost associated with that. You have to change, you have to commit, and it can become a sort of gilded cage these mushrooms are very successful, but they're stuck where they are."

In addition to many species which are housed in the Farlow Herbarium, located at the Harvard University Herbaria, Wolfe spent months tracking rare species in far-flung locations like London and Hawaii.

After extracting DNA from the samples, Wolfe used the genetic codes of four different genes to determine how the various species are related to one another. He then used a process called ancestral state reconstruction to show that the mushrooms have switched from being decomposers to being symbiotic with trees only once in their evolutionary history. Once the mushrooms switched to this new symbiotic lifestyle, they didn't go back to their free-living past.

Ultimately, Pringle said, the paper highlights one reason she finds such symbiotic partnerships "intrinsically interesting" for all their apparent benefits, the cost can be high.

"I think the really interesting thing is this idea that once you become symbiotic, some of your machinery is lost," she said. "It seems like a dead end in some ways you have to make this change to enter this niche, but once you're there, you can't go back you've lost the capacity to be free-living."


'/>"/>

Contact: Peter Reuell
preuell@fas.harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Bacterium signals plant to open up and let friends in
2. Mining cleanup benefits from Texas A&M expertise
3. Health benefits of vitamin D dependent on type taken
4. New research underscores the health benefits of fibers, including bone health
5. Sexual reproduction brings long-term benefits, study shows
6. Consumers need simple, concise messages about benefits of phytonutrients
7. Strong scientific evidence that eating berries benefits the brain
8. Artificial wetlands can provide benefits over the long haul
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/24/2017)... -- Janice Kephart , former 9/11 Commission ... LLP (IdSP) , today issues the following statement: ... 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting the Nation ... instilled with greater confidence, enabling the reactivation of ... are suspended by until at least July 2017). ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in SoC-based imaging and ... the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec technology. A demonstration ... Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan at ... the Las Vegas Convention Center April 24-27. ... Click here for an ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... UBM,s Advanced Design and Manufacturing event in ... and evolving technology through its 3D Printing and Smart ... the expo portion of the event and feature a ... on trending topics within 3D printing and smart manufacturing. ... will take place June 13-15, 2017 at the Jacob K. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/22/2017)... ... September 22, 2017 , ... HOLLOWAY AMERICA, a stainless steel ... packaging event PACK EXPO International in Las Vegas from September 25 to 27. ... At this year’s PACK EXPO at the Last Vegas Convention Center, HOLLOWAY representatives ...
(Date:9/22/2017)... ... September 22, 2017 , ... The Academy of Model ... 28 and 29, 2017, to promote AMA’s programs, member services, and the model ... hobbies, including but not limited to model aviation and other RC activities. , ...
(Date:9/21/2017)... ... September 21, 2017 , ... Vixiar ... executive, engineering and manufacturing functions to The LaunchPort™ Accelerator at the City Garage ... full range of manufacturing and business services to its Residents. , Vixiar ...
(Date:9/21/2017)... , ... (PRWEB) September 21, 2017 , ... ... international scientific and technical congress to review the latest knowledge on these products, ... prestigious international speakers will discuss the impact of Biostimulants on Plant Nutrition, Abiotic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: