Plant Ecology and Evolution 152(3): 499-506, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2019.1621
Unexplored diversity of microscopic myxomycetes: evidence from environmental DNA
expand article infoOleg N. Shchepin, Martin Schnittler§, Nikki H.A. Dagamac§, Dmitry V. Leontyev|, Yuri K. Novozhilov
‡ Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Popov Str. 2, 197376 St. Petersburg, Russia§ Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald, Soldmannstr. 15, 17487 Greifswald, Germany| Department of Botany, H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University, Valentynivska Str. 2, 61168 Kharkiv, Ukraine
Open Access

Background and aims – Recent studies showed the position of two slime mould species with microscopic sporocarps, Echinosteliopsis oligospora and Echinostelium bisporum, within the class Myxomycetes. These minute species are seldom seen in studies based on detection of sporocarps and can easily be confused with protosteloid amoebozoans.

Methods – We searched all published ePCR data sets that targeted myxomycete 18S rDNA for the presence of environmental sequences similar to E. oligospora and Echinosteliales in traditional circumscription, and performed phylogenetic analyses that included short environmental sequences and full-length 18S rDNA sequences representing all the major groups of myxomycetes.

Key results – We report 19 unique sequences which are closely related to E. bisporum or E. oligospora based on sequence similarity (73.1–95.2% similarity) and which form well-supported monophyletic clades with these species in phylogenetic analyses. They may represent new species that are not yet described. Our phylogeny based on full-length 18S rDNA sequences further confirms the position of E. bisporum and E. oligospora within myxomycetes and the paraphyly of the order Echinosteliales in its traditional circumscription.

Conclusions – Our results show that ePCR-based studies can reveal myxomycete taxa that often escape detection by traditional approaches, including potentially new species, and thus provide valuable new data on diversity and ecology of myxomycetes. As such, strategies for studying myxomycetes biodiversity should be revised, focusing also on molecular detection techniques in addition to the sporocarp-based ones.

18S rDNA, Echinosteliales, Echinosteliopsis, Echinostelium, hidden diversity, slime moulds, SSU


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