Uncovering the hidden taxonomic diversity of fungi in Oman

Abstract

Hot desert regions are undoubtedly challenging to fungal survival on the Arabian Peninsula. Fungi are, however, recognized as the most stress-resistant organisms among all eukaryotes, which could be a result of the rapid evolution of distinct species. Our current understanding of these microorganisms is derived from studies examining only a fraction of the overall fungal diversity. Therefore, further studies are needed to understand the diversity of fungi in desert regions. This paper highlights the taxonomy of several unusual fungal genera collected in a range of aquatic and terrestrial environments in Oman. These taxa were identified based on phylogenetic analyses of nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) (LSU, SSU and ITS) and protein-coding genes (TEF, RPB2 and TUB), plus morphological comparisons. Phylogenetic analyses, including the presently recognized genera in Patellariales resulted in splitting the order into four clades in Dothideomycetes. The new family Holmiellaceae and new order Holmiellales are introduced to include Holmiella. Species of Homortomycetaceae form a well-supported and distinct clade and raise it to Homortomycetales ordo novus. Omania (Halojulellaceae), Desertiserpentica (Lophiostomataceae) and Montanitestudina (Testudinaceae) are described as novel genera in Dothideomycetes. A synnematous hyphomycete with basidiomycetous affinity (Corticiales) was also identified and described as Basidiodesertica. Additionally, an asexual morph was observed for Holmiella junipericola; Patellaria quercus is synonymized under P. atrata, and seven new species are described.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Center (OAPGRC) and The Research Council (TRC) for providing financial support to the study. Prof. D. Jayarama Bhat, India and Milan Samarakoon are thanked for help in correcting the manuscript. Dhanushka Wanasinghe would like to thank the CAS President’s International Fellowship Initiative (number 2019PC0008), the 64th batch of China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grant no. 2018M643549), Postdoctoral Fund from Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of Yunnan Province and the National Science Foundation of China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No.: 41761144055).

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Correspondence to Sajeewa S. N. Maharachchikumbura or Abdullah M. Al-Sadi.

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This article is dedicated to Prof. Kevin David Hyde on the occasion of his 65th birthday.

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Maharachchikumbura, S.S.N., Wanasinghe, D.N., Cheewangkoon, R. et al. Uncovering the hidden taxonomic diversity of fungi in Oman. Fungal Diversity (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13225-020-00467-1

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Keywords

  • 14 new taxa
  • Ascomycota
  • Basidiomycota
  • Desert
  • Dothideomycetes
  • Patellariales
  • Saprobes