Sunday, May 15, 2011

A new branch found in the fungal tree of life

The fungus kingdom contains diverse eukaryotic organisms, including the yeast that we add in fermentation to make beer, the mold that grows on old bread, and the mushrooms that we eat. While we are familiar with many types of fungi, scientists are still trying to fill out the fungal tree of life. Mainly, researchers are unsure about the limits of fungal diversity and how different fungi relate to one another evolutionarily.

A recent paper in Nature suggests that scientists have been unaware of a large fraction of organisms in the fungus kingdom. Lead author Meredith Jones and her colleagues report the discovery of a new clade, an entirely new branch on the fungal tree of life. They named this new clade cryptomycota, which roughly translates to “hidden from the kingdom Fungi.” The new group appears to be extremely diverse; the authors estimate that the biodiversity of the cryptomycota clade might be similar to that of the entire known fungus kingdom.

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Shannyn Sossamon Rachael Leigh Cook Elisha Cuthbert Ciara Rachel Hunter

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