Sunday, October 22, 2006
As early fungi made the evolutionary journey from water to land and branched off from animals, they shed tail-like flagella that propelled them through their aquatic environment and evolved a variety of new mechanisms (including explosive volleys and fragrances) to disperse their spores and reproduce in a terrestrial setting.
'What's particularly interesting is that species retained their flagella for different lengths of time and developed different mechanisms of spore dispersal,' said David McLaughlin (homepage), professor of plant biology at the University of Minnesota in the College of Biological Sciences and co-author of a paper published in the October 19 issue of the journal Nature describing how fungi adapted to life on land.
The discovery is the latest installment in an international effort to learn the origins of species. McLaughlin is one of five principal investigators leading a team of 70 researchers at 35 institutions. The group analyzed information from six key genetic regions in almost 200 contemporary species to reconstruct the earliest days of fungi and their various relations. [Genetics, Science, Water]
Continued at "Discovery about evolution of fungi has implications for humans"
Based on "Reconstructing the early evolution of Fungi using a six-gene phylogeny" (Abstract)
Also see the 'Editor's Summary' at Nature: "First fungi"
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