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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2002;56:315-44. Epub 2002 Jan 30.

The class mesomycetozoea: a heterogeneous group of microorganisms at the animal-fungal boundary.

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  • 1Medical Technology Program, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1030, USA. mendoza9@msu.edu


When the enigmatic fish pathogen, the rosette agent, was first found to be closely related to the choanoflagellates, no one anticipated finding a new group of organisms. Subsequently, a new group of microorganisms at the boundary between animals and fungi was reported. Several microbes with similar phylogenetic backgrounds were soon added to the group. Interestingly, these microbes had been considered to be fungi or protists. This novel phylogenetic group has been referred to as the DRIP clade (an acronym of the original members: Dermocystidium, rosette agent, Ichthyophonus, and Psorospermium), as the class Ichthyosporea, and more recently as the class Mesomycetozoea. Two orders have been described in the mesomycetozoeans: the Dermocystida and the Ichthyophonida. So far, all members in the order Dermocystida have been pathogens either of fish (Dermocystidium spp. and the rosette agent) or of mammals and birds (Rhinosporidium seeberi), and most produce uniflagellated zoospores. Fish pathogens also are found in the order Ichthyophonida, but so are saprotrophic microbes. The Ichthyophonida species do not produce flagellated cells, but many produce amoeba-like cells. This review provides descriptions of the genera that comprise the class Mesomycetozoea and highlights their morphological features, pathogenic roles, and phylogenetic relationships.

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