A type of fungus that's been lurking underground for millions of years, previously known to science only through its DNA (its presence was detected in studies of environmental DNA), has been cultured, photographed, named and assigned a place on the tree of life, as reported by Science Daily.
Researchers say it represents an entirely new class of fungi: the Archaeorhizomycetes. The species discovered has been named as Archaeorhizomyces finlayi. The Archaeorhizomycetes are an eclectic subphylum known as Taphrinomycotina, other members of which include the yeast Schizosaccharomyces, often used in studies of cell biology and evolution, and Pneumocystis, which can cause pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems
This finding offers a glimpse at the rich diversity of microorganisms that share our world but remain hidden from view. The fungal phenomenon, brought to light by researchers at the University of Michigan, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Imperial College London and Royal Botanic Gardens and the University of Aberdeen, is described in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Science.
A. Rosling, F. Cox, K. Cruz-Martinez, K. Ihrmark, G.-A. Grelet, B. D. Lindahl, A. Menkis, T. Y. James.Archaeorhizomycetes: Unearthing an Ancient Class of Ubiquitous Soil Fungi. Science, 2011; 333 (6044): 876 DOI: 10.1126/science.1206958