Classification of marine Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Blastocladiomycota and Chytridiomycota
Fungi appear to be rare in marine environments. There are relatively few marine isolates in culture, and fungal small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) sequences are rarely recovered in marine clone library experiments (i.e., culture-independent sequence surveys of eukaryotic microbial diversity from environmental DNA samples). To explore the diversity of marine fungi, we took a broad selection of SSU rDNA data sets and calculated a summary phylogeny. Bringing these data together identified a diverse collection of marine fungi, including sequences branching close to chytrids (flagellated fungi), filamentous hypha-forming fungi, and multicellular fungi. However, the majority of the sequences branched with ascomycete and basidiomycete yeasts. We discuss evidence for 36 novel marine lineages, the majority and most divergent of which branch with the chytrids. We then investigate what these data mean for the evolutionary history of the Fungi and specifically marine-terrestrial transitions. Finally, we discuss the roles of fungi in marine ecosystems.