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The Uncertain Fungal Tree of Life: the Phylogenomics Solution (FTOL)


Recent findings estimated that nine million different species are thought to exist today on Earth from which 1.7 million species have been formally described and named (Science, 2003, 300:1692-1697). The complexity of assessing the diversity of life on earth is enormous but immensely rewarding since it enables us with a modern scientific view of the biodiversity and the evolutionary tree that unites all organisms on Earth. The fungal kingdom is one of the main domains of eukaryotic diversification. Fungi show a wide variation in morphology, physiology, life cycle and ecology. Furthermore, fungi and animals shared a common ancestor stating a common genetic history.

Our aim in this proposal is to elucidate and clarify the tree of life for the basidiomycetous yeasts. This group of yeasts has a high degree of diversity with specimens of known industrial, medical and ecological importance. However, the understanding of this part of the fungal Tree of Life (FTOL) remains unsolved to date due to the limited value of rDNA analysis or the use of single genes for phylogeny analysis due to the possibility of genes having different evolutionary rates.

In this proposal, we propose to take advantage of the progress made in comparative fungal genomics, by mining the available fungal genome sequences for useful phylogenetic markers. The markers will be tested for their usefulness to elucidate the main branches of FTOL, as well as to estimate how the fungal kingdom emerged. Finally they will be used to address the present incoherent views on the TOL of a certain model group, namely the Hymenomycetous branch of the basidiomycetous yeast.

Call for proposal

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