Evolution of Parasitism in Nematode-Trapping Fungi

D. Ahren, A. Tunlid


We are studying the evolution of parasitism in a group of soil-living ascomycetes that can grow as saprophytes as well as parasites by forming special morphological structures called traps. Analyses of 18S ribosomal DNA sequences have shown that these fungi form a monophyletic and isolated clade among the ascomycetes. The phylogenetic patterns within this clade are concordant with the morphology of the traps and separate species having adhesive traps (nets, knobs, and branches) from those having constricting rings. This suggests that these nematode-trapping fungi have a common ancestor, and that the ability to capture nematodes has been an important trait for further speciation and diversification within the clade. To obtain information on the genomic basis for this pattern, we recently started a large-scale sequencing project of the nematode-trapping fungus Monacrosporium haptotylum. This will allow the identification of genes uniquely expressed during the development of traps, and elucidate the molecular evolution of such genes within the nematode-trapping fungi clade.


expressed sequence tags; functional genomics; phylogeny

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