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Investigating the Evolution of Environmental and Biotic Interactions in Basal Fungal Lineages Through Comparative Genomics

  • Author(s): Ahrendt, Steven
  • Advisor(s): Stajich, Jason E
  • et al.
Abstract

Species belonging to the basal fungal lineages (Blastocladiomycota, Chytridiomycota, Cryptomycota, and Neocallimastigomycota) reproduce via motile zoospores and are found in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. These organisms, colloquially referred to as "chytrids", are traditionally understudied, despite being active decomposers, parasites, a nd symbionts with other organisms in the ecosystem. This dissertation research uses a comparative genomics approach to answer questions about these fungi and their interactions with their environment and other fungi. Chapters 2 and 3 examine the details of putative rhodopsin-mediated photoreception in basal lineages using structural mechanics and genome-wide gain-loss analyses. Chapter 4 provides a transcriptome analysis of one member of the genus Coelomomyces, the only known entomopathic chytrid genus. Chapter 5 describes surprising observations regarding competitive and inhibitory behavior in one member of the Chytridiomycota. Finally, Appendix A briefly looks at gain-loss analysis of molecular aspects of the evolutionary transition from aquatic motile single cells to terrestrial multicellullar organisms.

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