New Perspectives on the Distribution and Roles of Thermophilic Fungi
Defined as fungi that grow better at 25 °C than at 45 °C, thermophilic fungi were discovered more than a century ago. Nevertheless, little is known about the natural roles and distribution of these organisms. Although common in “sun-heated soils” and other natural substrates they have most often been recovered from manmade composts, and one hypothesis suggests that they evolved as decomposers in natural compost. This hypothesis suggests that propagules found outside compost have been dispersed by wind, an idea that seems nearly impossible to reconcile with their high frequency and broad distribution. In this chapter we briefly review the biology, history, and evolution of thermophilic fungi. We also present new results from ongoing efforts to map the range of habitats from which thermophilic fungi can be obtained. We have isolated thermophilic fungi over small and large spatial scales. Our surveys have focused on soil, litter, and herbivore droppings sampled from diverse ecosystems (deserts, grasslands, and forests) across eight western states, Mexico and Canada—from southern deserts to alpine ecosystems in Colorado and Montana. Our results show that thermophiles can be isolated readily from all of these substrates at nearly every latitude and elevation. We observed that the success of recovering thermophilic fungi from soil decreases with increasing latitude. During this survey, we also discovered that several species of thermophilic fungi can survive storage in soil samples for several years at −80 °C.
KeywordsThermophile Ecology Chaetomiaceae Eurotiales Biogeography
This research was supported in part by a National Science Foundation award to the University of New Mexico (UNM) for the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research program. We acknowledge support for DNA sequencing from the UNM Department of Biology’s Molecular Biology Facility. Data analysis was aided by computing resources of the UNM Center for Evolutionary & Theoretical Immunology (CETI) under National Institutes of Health grant P30GM110907, and the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing, supported in part by the National Science Foundation.
Funding statement Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA0003525.
- Ames LM (1963) A monograph of the Chaetomiaceae. US Army Res Dev Ser No. 2, Washington, DC, pp 9–125Google Scholar
- Berka RM, Grigoriev IV, Otillar R, Salamov A, Grimwood J, Reid I, Ishmael N, John T, Darmond C, Moisan MC, Henrissat B, Coutinho PM, Lombard V, Natvig DO, Lindquist E, Schmutz J, Lucas S, Harris P, Powlowski J, Bellemare A, Taylor D, Butler G, de Vries RP, Allijn IE, van den Brink J, Ushinsky S, Storms R, Powell AJ, Paulsen IT, Elbourne LD, Baker SE, Magnuson J, Laboissiere S, Clutterbuck AJ, Martinez D, Wogulis M, de Leon AL, Rey MW, Tsang A (2011) Comparative genomic analysis of the thermophilic biomass-degrading fungi Myceliophthora thermophila and Thielavia terrestris. Nat Biotechnol 29:922–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bustamante J (2006) Thermophilic fungi on the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. PhD diss., University of New MexicoGoogle Scholar
- Cooney DG, Emerson R (1964) Thermophilic fungi: an account of their biology, activities and classification. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, CA, p 188Google Scholar
- Hawksworth D, Lücking R (2017) Fungal diversity revisited: 2.2 to 3.8 million species. Microbiol Spectr 5:1–17Google Scholar
- Hutchinson MI, Powell AJ, Tsang A, O’Toole N, Berka RM, Barry K, Grigoriev IV, Natvig DO (2016) Genetics of mating in members of the Chaetomiaceae as revealed by experimental and genomic characterization of reproduction in Myceliophthora heterothallica. Fungal Genet Biol 86:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Maddison WP, Maddison DR (2010) Mesquite: a modular system for evolutionary analysis. 2011; Version 2.75. http://mesquiteproject.org
- Maheshwari R, Kamalam PT, Balasubramanyam PV (1987) The biogeography of thermophilic fungi. Curr Sci 56:151–155Google Scholar
- Mehrotra RS, Aneja KR (1990) An introduction to mycology. New Age International, New Delhi, pp 1–737Google Scholar
- Miehe H (1907a) Die selbsterhitzung des Heus. Eine biologische studie. Gustav Fischer, Jena, pp 1–127Google Scholar
- Miehe H (1907b) Thermoidium sulfureum n.g. n.sp., etin neuer Wärmepilz. Berichte der Deutsch Bot Ges 25:510–515Google Scholar
- Miehe H (1930b) Über die Selbsterhitzung des Heues. Arb Dtsch Landwirtsch Gesellsch Berlin 111:76–91Google Scholar
- Salar RK, Aneja KR (2007) Thermophilic fungi: taxonomy and biogeography. J Agric Techonol 3:77–107Google Scholar
- Straatsma G, Samson RA, Olijnsma TW, Den Camp HJO, Gerrits JP, Van Griensven LJ (1994) Ecology of thermophilic fungi in mushroom compost, with emphasis on Scytalidium thermophilum and growth stimulation of Agaricus bisporus mycelium. Appl Environ Microbiol 60:454–458PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Tsiklinsky P (1899) Sur les mucédinées thermophiles. Ann Inst Pasteur 13:500–505Google Scholar
- van den Brink J, van Muiswinkel GCJ, Theelen B, Hinz SWA, de Vries RP (2013) Efficient plant biomass degradation by thermophilic fungus Myceliophthora heterothallica. Appl Environ Microbiol 79:1316–1324Google Scholar
- White TJ, Bruns T, Lee SJ, Taylor JW (1990) Amplification and direct sequencing of fungal ribosomal RNA genes for phylogenetics. PCR Protoc 18:315–322Google Scholar