Niches and Adaptations of Polyextremotolerant Black Fungi
Environmental changes such as increased levels of carbon dioxide and UV radiation are usually perceived as a threat to living organisms and associated with shrinking populations and extinction. We frequently forget that some species cope really well with a range of extreme and rapidly changing conditions and may actually benefit from such changes. Black meristematic fungi, for example, are well adapted to high doses of radiation and survive long periods of desiccation. They seem not only robust under moderate stress conditions but seem to adapt and diversify, in agreement with the so-called concept of antifragility. We hypothesise that this behaviour is mediated by the polymer melanin in the cell walls; yet, other protective molecules and phenotypic plasticity play an important role as well. Evolution of these fungi is thought to have originated in the harsh oligotrophic habitats on the surface and subsurface of rocks, but their potentials are much wider than that. Their polyextremotolerance helps them to colonise numerous habitats in which competition with other fungi is low due to stressful conditions. This includes a range of anthropogenic environments and in some cases also animal bodies. Some of these fungi also undergo lichen-like associations with photoautotrophs or benefit from growing on lichens.
KeywordsAureobasidium Pullulans Splenic Abscess Protective Compound Black Fungus Lichen Symbiosis
LM and MG are grateful to the Austrian Science Foundation for financial support (FWF P24114). CG acknowledges the support of the project ‘Centre of excellence for integrated approaches in chemistry and biology of proteins’ number OP126.96.36.199.02.0005, financed by the European regional development fund (85 % share of financing) and by the Slovenian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (15 % share of financing) and of the Slovenian state budget through the Slovenian Research Agency (Infrastructural Centre Mycosmo).
- Brunauer G, Blaha J, Hager A, Turk R, Stocker-Worgotter E, Grube M (2007) An isolated lichenicolous fungus forms lichenoid structures when co-cultured with various coccoid algae. Symbiosis 44:127–136Google Scholar
- de Hoog GS, Guarro J, Gené F, Figueras MJ (2000) Atlas of clinical fungi, 2nd edn. Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures/Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Utrecht/Reus, 1126 ppGoogle Scholar
- de Hoog GS, Zalar P, Gerrits van den Ende AHG, Gunde-Cimerman N (2005) Relation of halotolerance to human-pathogenicity in the fungal tree of life: an overview of ecology and evolution under stress. In: Gunde-Cimerman N, Oren A, Plemenitaš A (eds) Adaptation to life at high salt concentrations in archaea, bacteria, and eukarya. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 371–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fürst HM (2000) Ökologie des Hyphenpilzes Hormoconis resinae und Eigenschaften seines n-Alkan-induzierten P450-Monooxygenasesystems. Dissertation, Technische Universität Berlin, 124 pp. ISBN: 3-89825-042-3Google Scholar
- Gunde-Cimerman N, Zalar P, de Hoog S, Plemenitaš A (2000) Hypersaline waters in salterns – natural ecological niches for halophilic black yeasts. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 32:235–240Google Scholar
- Henssen A (1987) Lichenothelia, a genus of microfungi on rocks. Biblioth Lichenol 25:257–293Google Scholar
- Prenafeta-Boldu FX, Guivernau M, Gallastegui G, Vinas M, de Hoog GS, Elias A (2012) Fungal/bacterial interactions during the biodegradation of TEX hydrocarbons (toluene, ethylbenzene and p-xylene) in gas biofilters operated under xerophilic conditions. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 80:722–734PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Robert V, Stegehuis G, Stalpers J (2005) The MycoBank engine and related databases. http://www.mycobank.org
- Selbmann L, de Hoog GS, Mazzaglia A, Friedmann EI, Onofri S (2005) Fungi at the edge of life: cryptoendolithic black fungi from Antarctic desert. Stud Mycol 51:1–32Google Scholar
- Taleb NN (2011) Antifragility – or – the property of disorder-loving systems. Edge. Available online: http://www.edge.org/q2011/q11_3.html#taleb. Accessed on 2 Aug 2012