New insights from molecular phylogenetics of amoebophagous fungi (Zoopagomycota, Zoopagales)
Amoebophagous fungi are represented in all fungal groups: Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, Zygomycota, and Chytridiomycota. The amoebophagous fungi, within the zygomycota (Zoopagales, Zoopagomycota), mainly affect naked amoebae as ectoparasites or endoparasites. It is rather difficult to isolate members of the Zoopagales, because of their parasitic lifestyle, and to bring them into culture. Consequently, gene sequences of this group are undersampled, and its species composition and phylogeny are relatively unknown. In the present study, we were able to isolate amoebophagous fungi together with their amoeba hosts from various habitats (moss, pond, bark, and soil). Altogether, four fungal strains belonging to the genera Acaulopage and Stylopage plus one unidentified isolate were detected. Sequences of the 18S rDNA and the complete ITS region and partial 28S (LSU) rDNA were generated. Subsequent phylogenetic analyses showed that all new isolates diverge at one branch together with two environmental clonal sequences within the Zoopagomycota. Here, we provide the first molecular characterization of the genus Stylopage. Stylopage is closely related to the genus Acaulopage. In addition, taxonomy and phylogeny of amoebophagous fungi and their ecological importance are reviewed based on new sequence data, which includes environmental clonal sequences.