The evolution of filamentous hyphae underlies an astounding diversity of fungal form and function. We studied the cellular structure and evolutionary origins of the filamentous form in the Monoblepharidomycetes (Chytridiomycota), an early-diverging fungal lineage that displays an exceptional range of body types, from crescent-shaped single cells to sprawling hyphae. To do so, we combined light and transmission electron microscopic analyses of hyphal cytoplasm with molecular phylogenetic reconstructions. Hyphae of Monoblepharidomycetes lack a complex aggregation of secretory vesicles at the hyphal apex (i.e. Spitzenkörper), have centrosomes as primary microtubule organizing centers and have stacked Golgi cisternae instead of tubular/fenestrated Golgi equivalents. The cytoplasmic distribution of actin in Monoblepharidomycetes is comparable to the arrangement observed previously in other filamentous fungi. To discern the origins of Monoblepharidomycetes hyphae, we inferred a phylogeny of the fungi based on 18S and 28S ribosomal DNA sequence data with maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. We focused sampling on Monoblepharidomycetes to infer intergeneric relationships within the class and determined 78 new sequences. Analyses showed class Monoblepharidomycetes to be monophyletic and nested within Chytridiomycota. Hyphal Monoblepharidomycetes formed a clade sister to the genera without hyphae, Harpochytrium and Oedogoniomyces. A likelihood ancestral state reconstruction indicated that hyphae arose independently within the Monoblepharidomycetes lineage and in at least two other lineages. Cytological differences among monoblepharidalean and other fungal hyphae are consistent with these convergent origins.
- ancestral state reconstruction
- light microscopy
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