Recent developments in the taxonomic affiliation and phylogenetic positioning of fungi: impact in applied microbiology and environmental biotechnology
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- Voigt, K. & Kirk, P.M. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (2011) 90: 41. doi:10.1007/s00253-011-3143-4
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The goal of modern taxonomy is to understand the relationships of living organisms in terms of evolutionary descent. Thereby, the relationships between living organisms are understood in terms of nested clades—every time a speciation event takes place, two new clades are produced. Life comprises three domains of living organisms, these are the Bacteria, the Archaea and the Eukaryota. Within the eukaryotic domain, the fungi form a monophyletic group of the eukaryotic crown group and are thus high up in the evolutionary hierarchy of life. Fungus-like organisms possess certain morphological features of fungi, such as the hyphal organization of the Oomycota or the spores and reproductive structures inside a fructification of plasmodiophorids (Plasmodiophoromycota) and slime moulds (Mycetozoa). The first group are algae which secondarily lost their plastids during evolution and contain cellulose in their cell walls. Both osmotrophic phyla, the Oomycota and the Plasmidiophoromycota belong to the Chromista and Rhizaria, respectively, whereas the last group, the cellular and plasmodial slime moulds (Mycetozoa) are phagotrophic amoeboid protists belonging to the Amoebozoa. These fungus-like organisms are not considered further in this review. The Fungi sensu stricto comprise a heterogenous, often inconspicuous group of microorganisms which (1) are primarily heterotrophic with an (2) osmotrophic style of nutrition containing (3) chitin and its derivatives in the cell wall. This review discusses species concepts and current strategies in fungal taxonomy, phylogenetic affiliations of miscellaneous fungus-like groups like the microsporidia, perspectives of fungal nomenclature, and their impact on natural product research.