Unveiling the Hidden Gems: Discovering Diverse Fungi in Thailand

Jim Crocker
28th June, 2024

Unveiling the Hidden Gems: Discovering Diverse Fungi in Thailand

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Mae Fah Luang University in Thailand discovered eight new species of chytrid fungi in the Rhizophydiales order
  • These new species were identified through detailed morphological and genetic analyses, confirming their novelty
  • The study significantly expands our understanding of fungal biodiversity, particularly within the understudied chytrid group
Chytrids, a group of fungi often overshadowed by their more well-known counterparts, are gaining attention for their vital roles in nutrient cycling and ecosystem functioning. A recent study by researchers at Mae Fah Luang University[1] has shed light on new species within the Rhizophydiales order of Chytridiomycota, expanding our understanding of fungal biodiversity. Chytridiomycota, commonly known as chytrids, inhabit a variety of environments, including terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. They play essential roles as decomposers, breaking down organic matter, and as parasites, impacting other organisms within their ecosystems. One order within this phylum, Rhizophydiales, is known to contain several monotypic families, which suggests a high potential for undiscovered fungal diversity[2]. In this study, researchers collected baited soil and aquatic samples from various provinces in Thailand. Through a combination of morphological and phylogenetic analyses, they identified eight distinct new species within Rhizophydiales. These species were categorized based on variations in the size and shape of their sporangia (structures that produce and release spores) and zoospores (motile spores). The new species identified are Alphamyces thailandicus, Angulomyces ubonensis, Gorgonomyces aquaticus, G. chiangraiensis, G. limnicus, Pateramyces pingflumenensis, Terramyces aquatica, and T. flumenensis. To confirm these species as novel, the researchers employed robust phylogenetic analyses using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods. These methods are statistical approaches used to infer evolutionary relationships among species based on genetic data. The results provided strong support for the presence of eight distinct lineages within Rhizophydiales, representing the newly discovered species. Additionally, the study utilized Poisson Tree Processes (PTP) to infer species boundaries. PTP is a method used in phylogenetics to determine the number of species in a dataset by analyzing the branching patterns of a phylogenetic tree. This approach helped to supplement the evidence for establishing the new species. The findings of this study contribute significantly to the broader field of mycology, the scientific study of fungi. By meticulously exploring the morphological characteristics and genetic makeup of these new species, the researchers have expanded the known catalogue of fungal diversity. This is particularly important as chytrids have been relatively understudied compared to other fungal groups[2]. The study also builds on previous research in the field. For example, earlier studies have highlighted the complexity and diversity within chytrid genera. One such study revealed the polyphyletic nature of the genus Chytriomyces, leading to the reclassification of C. spinosus into a new genus, Fayochytriomyces spinosus[3]. This reclassification underscores the importance of combining morphological and molecular data to accurately identify and classify fungal species. Furthermore, the study aligns with research on amphibian-parasitizing chytrid fungi, such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, which have been linked to global patterns of biodiversity loss in amphibians[4]. Understanding the diversity and ecological roles of chytrids can provide insights into their impact on ecosystems and inform conservation strategies. In summary, the identification and characterization of these eight novel species within Rhizophydiales mark a significant advancement in our comprehension of fungal ecosystems. The research conducted by Mae Fah Luang University not only enriches our understanding of Rhizophydiales but also addresses a critical gap in the documentation of fungal species. This newfound knowledge contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of fungal biodiversity and highlights the importance of continued exploration and study in mycology.



Main Study

1) Diversity of Rhizophydiales (Chytridiomycota) in Thailand: unveiling the hidden gems of the Kingdom

Published 27th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Integrative approach to species delimitation in Rhizophydiales: Novel species of Angulomyces, Gorgonomyces, and Terramyces from northern Thailand.


3) Fayochytriomyces, a new genus within Chytridiales.


4) Chytrid fungi and global amphibian declines.


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