Seminar of the Department of Microbiology

The biology and ecology of aquatic chytrid fungi

Dr Michael Cunnliffe - University of Plymouth

10.03.2022, 11:00 - Join online



The phylum Chytridiomycota (the ‘chytrids’) are an early-diverging, mostly unicellular, lineage of fungi that are significant aquatic saprotrophs, parasites, and pathogens. Chytrids are also of evolutionary interest because they retain biological traits considered ancestral in the fungal kingdom. While the existence of aquatic chytrids has long been known, their fundamental biology has received relatively little attention, with the underpinning biology governing their aquatic ecological activities and associated core processes remaining largely understudied and therefore unresolved. Our recent work has started to address these knowledge gaps in chytrid biology. We have been studying in detail the chytrid life cycle from the free-swimming zoospore to the reproductive zoosporangium, focusing on the major transitions through key life stages. We have also explored the development and morphogenesis of the chytrid rhizoid, which is used for attaching to substrates and feeding. Our work has considered some of the roles that chytrid play in aquatic ecosystems, particularly in terms of interaction with bacteria. Our broad aim is to help advance and improve understanding of chytrid biology, including through the development of model aquatic chytrids, in the context of ecology and evolution.

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