Diversity and hidden host specificity of chytrids infecting colonial volvocacean algae
Wyngaert, Silke Van den
Rojas Jiménez, Keilor Osvaldo
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Chytrids are zoosporic fungi that play an important, but yet understudied, ecological role in aquatic ecosystems. Many chytrid species have been morphologically described as parasites on phytoplankton. However, the majority of them have rarely been isolated and lack DNA sequence data. In this study we isolated and cultivated three parasitic chytrids, infecting a common volvocacean host species, Yamagishiella unicocca. To identify the chytrids, we characterized morphology and life cycle, and analyzed phylogenetic relationships based on 18S and 28S rDNA genes. Host range and specificity of the chytrids was determined by cross‐infection assays with host strains, characterized by rbcL and ITS markers. We were able to confirm the identity of two chytrid strains as Endocoenobium eudorinae Ingold and Dangeardia mamillata Schröder and described the third chytrid strain as Algomyces stechlinensis gen. et sp. nov. The three chytrids were assigned to novel and phylogenetically distant clades within the phylum Chytridiomycota, each exhibiting different host specificities. By integrating morphological and molecular data of both the parasitic chytrids and their respective host species, we unveiled cryptic host‐parasite associations. This study highlights that a high prevalence of (pseudo)cryptic diversity requires molecular characterization of both phytoplankton host and parasitic chytrid to accurately identify and compare host range and specificity, and to study phytoplankton‐chytrid interactions in general.
- Biología