Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UNC-CH Biologists Identify New Order Of Marine Fungi

Date:
January 19, 2000
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
When Dr. Jan Kohlmeyer and his wife, Dr. Brigette Volkmann-Kohlmeyer, want to make a scientific discovery, often they only need to walk to the tidal creek bordering their Carteret County property. There they find an almost mind-boggling diversity of fungi -- the second largest group of organisms after insects -- to study in their laboratory.

Related Articles


CHAPEL HILL - When Dr. Jan Kohlmeyer and his wife, Dr. Brigette Volkmann-Kohlmeyer, want to make a scientific discovery, often they only need to walk to the tidal creek bordering their Carteret County property. There they find an almost mind-boggling diversity of fungi -- the second largest group of organisms after insects -- to study in their laboratory.

Jan Kohlmeyer, professor of marine sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has now identified a new order of the tiny life forms. In his career, he already has described two orders, three families and more than 150 new species.

"Because most of these organisms are microscopic, they don't get much publicity, but they are very important in nature," the biologist said. "If they didn't exist, cellulose would accumulate and cause terrible pollution in the woods, fields and marine environment."

The Kohlmeyers and Dr. Joseph Spatafora of Oregon State University have found that the 11 species in the genus Lulworthia and six species of the genus Lindra belong to the new order, which they are calling Lulworthiales. DNA studies have shown them to be distinctively different from species in other orders.

A report on the research will appear in the May/June issue of the journal Mycologia, which publishes scientific papers on discoveries about fungi.

The various Lulworthia and Lindra species are all marine decomposers rather than parasites, Kohlmeyer said. They break down dead seaweed, marsh plants and wood, including wooden pilings and boats, and recycle their stored nutrients in oceans and especially estuaries. Without them and their cousins, life would cease to exist in its current form on Earth.

Four years ago, the UNC-CH biologists reported discovering a unique ballistic form of reproduction that a species they named Glomerobolus employed. That fungus squeezes gelatinous spheres called propagules between finger-like structures and, when the pressure builds to a maximum, shoots them outward like microscopic cannon balls.

The sticky projectiles are perhaps more like spitballs of the marshlands, Jan Kohlmeyer said. Whatever they hit more than a foot away, they adhere to. Snails and other invertebrates lunch on some, while tiny fish sup on those that plop in the water.

Propagules not eaten themselves germinate and begin to break down leaves of dead needlerush, a marsh plant common in the eastern United States.

To his amazement, he and his wife have discovered more than 100 new species of marine fungi on needlerush alone. About 60 percent of N.C. coastal marshes are composed of that plant, which is a kind of grass.

"Normally, you find a maximum of about eight species on a host plant, and so finding more than 10 times that amount is really remarkable," Kohlmeyer said.

Besides their potential as cancer drugs, the scientist said compounds the fungi contain might prove useful against hard-to-cure fungi that afflict humans internally such as Candida and externally such as foot and toenail forms.

About 57,000 species have been described so far, and a well-based estimate is that about 1.5 million species exist. Each has to be measured, photographed, dissected, analyzed, described and named.

"This means that there is still lots of work to do," he said. "Fortunately, it's really fascinating and exciting. When I retire fully, I plan to keep working without pay because this work is fun for me."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "UNC-CH Biologists Identify New Order Of Marine Fungi." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000119074611.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (2000, January 19). UNC-CH Biologists Identify New Order Of Marine Fungi. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000119074611.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "UNC-CH Biologists Identify New Order Of Marine Fungi." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000119074611.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins