Scientists discover entirely new branch of life

Scientists have found something in water samples from a pond in Exeter. They have discovered microscopic organisms that are related to fungus, and have named them “cryptomycota”. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a ground-breaking discovery.

However, this could turn out to be a revolutionary finding. These organisms are significantly different to ordinary fungus (pictured above). In fact, there are so many different kinds of cryptomycota, and are found in so many different places, that their biodiversity is much more vast than any other fungus. Their biodiversity may even be greater than the entire fungal kingdom.

Significantly, they apparently lack a protein in their cell walls, which is a defining feature of fungi. This implies that cryptomycota deserve their own branch on the tree of life. Indeed, they may not even be a fungus at all.  

The scientists behind its discovery are now aiming to grow it in the lab, so they can get a better understanding of it. Cryptomycota may just be a very unusual type of fungus, or it may end up getting its very own kingdom, alongside the plant and animal kingdom. 

Full story: NPR http://www.npr.org/2011/05/12/136207874/a-new-somewhat-moldy-branch-on-the-tree-of-life

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About MRW

Physics person.

Posted on May 13, 2011, in Ecology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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