Original Article

Subject Category: Microbial population and community ecology

The ISME Journal (2010) 4, 1225–1235; doi:10.1038/ismej.2010.49; published online 22 April 2010

Phylogenetic diversity and community structure of anaerobic gut fungi (phylum Neocallimastigomycota) in ruminant and non-ruminant herbivores

Audra S Liggenstoffer1, Noha H Youssef1, M B Couger1 and Mostafa S Elshahed1

1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA

Correspondence: MS Elshahed, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Oklahoma State University, 1110 S. Innovation Way, Stillwater, OK 74074, USA. E-mail: mostafa@okstate.edu

Received 21 January 2010; Revised 10 March 2010; Accepted 12 March 2010; Published online 22 April 2010.

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Abstract

The phylogenetic diversity and community structure of members of the gut anaerobic fungi (AF) (phylum Neocallimastigomycota) were investigated in 30 different herbivore species that belong to 10 different mammalian and reptilian families using the internal transcribed spacer region-1 (ITS-1) ribosomal RNA (rRNA) region as a phylogenetic marker. A total of 267287 sequences representing all known anaerobic fungal genera were obtained in this study. Sequences affiliated with the genus Piromyces were the most abundant, being encountered in 28 different samples, and representing 36% of the sequences obtained. On the other hand, sequences affiliated with the genera Cyllamyces and Orpinomyces were the least abundant, being encountered in 2, and 8 samples, and representing 0.7%, and 1.1% of the total sequences obtained, respectively. Further, 38.3% of the sequences obtained did not cluster with previously identified genera and formed eight phylogenetically distinct novel anaerobic fungal lineages. Some of these novel lineages were widely distributed (for example NG1 and NG3), whereas others were animal specific, being encountered in only one or two animals (for example NG4, NG6, NG7, and NG8). The impact of various physiological and environmental factors on the diversity and community structure of AF was examined. The results suggest that animal host phylogeny exerts the most significant role on shaping anaerobic fungal diversity and community composition. These results greatly expand the documented global phylogenetic diversity of members of this poorly studied group of fungi that has an important function in initiating plant fiber degradation during fermentative digestion in ruminant and non-ruminant herbivores.

Keywords:

anaerobic fungi; neocallimastigomycota; culture-independent pyrosequencing surveys

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