The phylogeny of smut fungi (Ustilaginomycotina)

  • Smut fungi (Ustilaginomycotina) were previously defined as plant parasites that produced blackish or brownish masses of teliospores in or on various organs of plants. Each teliospore germinates to form a single basidium with usually four basidiospores that subsequently grow as a saprobic, yeast-like, haploid stage. The Ustilaginomycotina are a highly diverse group with about 1,700 species in 115 different genera. All of the species were united in a single order, the Ustilaginales, in late 19th century. These teliospore producing fungi are now considered the classic smut fungi. Towards the end of the 20th century, new ideas were brought into this classification system. Most notable was the comparative work regarding the ultrastructure of septal pores and the anatomy of the interaction zones between host and parasite. This work changed the whole concept of smut fungi and their evolutionary relationships. These results were subsequently supported by molecular phylogenetic studies. Both lines of investigation led to the classification of the smut fungi into four different classes, Ustilaginomycetes, Exobasidiomycetes, Malasseziomycetes and Moniliellomycetes (see chapter 1.3). A reliable taxonomy that reflects phylogenies needed in order to estimate the diversity and the relationships between the diverse groups of smut fungi. In the last 20 years, molecular investigations based mostly on rDNA loci, e.g. ITS (internal transcribed spacer) or LSU (large subunit), have revealed the evolutionary relationships between many taxa of smut fungi. However, there are few phylogenetic studies available for smut fungi (see chapter 1.5.1), and much work is needed to develop backbone phylogenetic trees and to resolve species complexes of many smut fungi. This thesis reports the results of six different studies that aimed to develop new and improved tools for the phylogenetic analyses of smut fungi, and then apply these methods to selected groups of smut fungi. The first study (Kruse et al. 2017a, Chapter 3) developed a method to improve the amplification of ITS sequences of some smut fungi. Due to its high discrimination value, the ITS gene region is widely used as a barcoding locus for species delimitation of fungi. For this purpose, the general ITS primers ITS1 and ITS4 or more specific modifications, e.g. ITS1F for Ascomycota, ITS4B for Basidiomycota or M-ITS1 for smut fungi, were used. As these primer combinations often yielded unsatisfactory results, due to coamplification of other (contaminant) fungi or the host plant DNA, improvement of the amplification of the ITS region was needed. In order to design new smut specific primers for the ITS region, a representative set of several sequences of the flanking regions of the ITS region (LSU and SSU) of smut fungi, plants and other fungi were downloaded from GenBank. A set of primers was designed on this dataset. These primers were tested on a representative set of about 70 different smut genera under different PCR conditions. Finally, three different primers, one forward primer, smITS-F, and two reverse primers, smITS-R1 and -R2, were selected as the best ones. The following tests with different combinations of these primers, and also under inclusion of the M-ITS1 primer, showed only slight differences in the number of different genera that successfully amplified. But there were some differences regarding the genera that amplified. A broader test on 205 samples in 39 genera showed that the PCR efficiency of the newly designed primers was much better than the primer set ITS4/M-ITS1. With the primers designed in this study almost no non-target ITS was amplified, giving new opportunities especially for amplifying ancient DNA or DNA from older herbarium samples. However, many species groups remain unresolved by only one gene region. The second study (Kruse et al. 2017c, Chapter 4) found new loci and suitable primers that better resolved multi-locus trees. To date, the most frequently used loci for making multi-locus trees are SSU (small subunit), LSU (large subunit) and ITS (internal transcribed spacer). While the LSU is not always sufficient to distinguish between closely related species, it is highly discriminative above the species level. In an effort to increase the phylogenetic resolution of smut phylogenies, some protein-coding genes were used, including rpb1, rpb2, and atp6 with varying success (see Chapter 2.1.2). As most of these loci are seldom used or sometimes only work on pure cultures because of their low specifity, new protein-coding loci were identified that produced reliable phylogenetic trees. Based on five available genomes, potential gene loci were filtered for possible primers. Initially, 40 different primer combinations for 14 gene loci were tested on a set of twelve different genera of smut fungi. The best candidates were selected and optimized during further tests. Finally, 22 different forward primers and 17 different reverse primers for nine different gene regions were developed, with each differentiating at least one genus of smut fungi (preferably for Ustilaginomycetes). The different primers showed varying discriminative power for different smut genera. They worked best for the Ustilaginaceae, based on the primer designed from Ustilaginomycetes genomes. These new primer sets and loci have the potential to resolve different species groups within the smut fungi and furthermore to produce reliable phylogenetic trees with high resolution. To prove their applicability, three species complexes were investigated in-depth, two from the Ustilaginomycetes and one from the Exobasidiomycetes. ...

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Author:Julia Kruse
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Marco ThinesORCiDGND, Sven KlimpelORCiDGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2019/02/27
Year of first Publication:2018
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2018/12/06
Release Date:2019/02/28
Tag:Ustilaginomycotina; smut fungi
Page Number:202
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Sammlung Biologie / Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht