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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Feb;46(2):635-44. Epub 2007 Oct 13.

Widespread occurrence and phylogenetic placement of a soil clone group adds a prominent new branch to the fungal tree of life.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3B2.


Fungi are one of the most diverse groups of Eukarya and play essential roles in terrestrial ecosystems as decomposers, pathogens and mutualists. This study unifies disparate reports of unclassified fungal sequences from soils of diverse origins and anchors many of them in a well-supported clade of the Ascomycota equivalent to a subphylum. We refer to this clade as Soil Clone Group I (SCGI). We expand the breadth of environments surveyed and develop a taxon-specific primer to amplify 2.4kbp rDNA fragments directly from soil. Our results also expand the known range of this group from North America to Europe and Australia. The ancient origin of SCGI implies that it may represent an important transitional form among the basal Ascomycota groups. SCGI is unusual because it currently represents the only major fungal lineage known only from sequence data. This is an important contribution towards building a more complete fungal phylogeny and highlights the need for further work to determine the function and biology of SCGI taxa.

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