Six Key Traits of Fungi: Their Evolutionary Origins and Genetic Bases

László G. Nagy, Renáta Tóth, Enikő Kiss, Jason Slot, Attila Gácser, Gábor M. Kovács

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8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The fungal lineage is one of the three large eukaryotic lineages that dominate terrestrial ecosystems. They share a common ancestor with animals in the eukaryotic supergroup Opisthokonta and have a deeper common ancestry with plants, yet several phenotypes, such as morphological, physiological, or nutritional traits, make them unique among all living organisms. This article provides an overview of some of the most important fungal traits, how they evolve, and what major genes and gene families contribute to their development. The traits highlighted here represent just a sample of the characteristics that have evolved in fungi, including polarized multicellular growth, fruiting body development, dimorphism, secondary metabolism, wood decay, and mycorrhizae. However, a great number of other important traits also underlie the evolution of the taxonomically and phenotypically hyperdiverse fungal kingdom, which could fill up a volume on its own. After reviewing the evolution of these six well-studied traits in fungi, we discuss how the recurrent evolution of phenotypic similarity, that is, convergent evolution in the broad sense, has shaped their phylogenetic distribution in extant species.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases

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