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Fungal Biol. 2012 Apr;116(4):489-502. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2012.01.010. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

A molecular phylogeny of thermophilic fungi.

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Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Sequences from 86 fungal genomes and from the two outgroup genomes Arabidopsis thaliana and Drosophila melanogaster were analyzed to construct a robust molecular phylogeny of thermophilic fungi, which are potentially rich sources of industrial enzymes. To provide experimental reference points, growth characteristics of 22 reported thermophilic or thermotolerant fungi, together with eight mesophilic species, were examined at four temperatures: 22 °C, 34 °C, 45 °C, and 55 °C. Based on the relative growth performances, species with a faster growth rate at 45 °C than at 34 °C were classified as thermophilic, and species with better or equally good growth at 34 °C compared to 45 °C as thermotolerant. We examined the phylogenetic relationships of a diverse range of fungi, including thermophilic and thermotolerant species, using concatenated amino acid sequences of marker genes mcm7, rpb1, and rpb2 obtained from genome sequencing projects. To further elucidate the phylogenetic relationships in the thermophile-rich orders Sordariales and Eurotiales, we used nucleotide sequences from the nuclear ribosomal small subunit (SSU), the 5.8S gene with internal transcribed spacers 1 and 2 (ITS 1 and 2), and the ribosomal large subunit (LSU) to include additional species for analysis. These phylogenetic analyses clarified the position of several thermophilic taxa. Thus, Myriococcum thermophilum and Scytalidium thermophilum fall into the Sordariales as members of the Chaetomiaceae, Thermomyces lanuginosus belongs to the Eurotiales, Malbranchea cinnamomea is a member of the Onygenales, and Calcarisporiella thermophila is assigned to the basal fungi close to the Mucorales. The mesophilic alkalophile Acremonium alcalophilum clusters with Verticillium albo-atrum and Verticillium dahliae, placing them in the recently established order Glomerellales. Taken together, these data indicate that the known thermophilic fungi are limited to the Sordariales, Eurotiales, and Onygenales in the Ascomycota and the Mucorales with possibly an additional order harbouring C. thermophila in the basal fungi. No supporting evidence was found for thermophilic species belonging to the Basidiomycota.

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