Antarctic fungi and their ecological characteristics

Ecological Characteristics of Antarctic Fungi, a study published in the Doklady biological sciences, delves into an issue that is becoming increasingly important as climate change progresses

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Antarctic fungi and their ecological characteristics

Ecological Characteristics of Antarctic Fungi, a study published in the Doklady biological sciences, delves into an issue that is becoming increasingly important as climate change progresses. The researchers told: "In view of the high responsiveness of polar ecosystems to the global climate change, the research of Antarctic microorganisms has become a topical issue.

The unique ecosystems that have developed under the severe climate conditions of the continent lack flowering plants but are dominated by soil mycobiota.In addition to performing their classical ecological functions, Antarctic fungi form the basis of local communities, endoliths and microbial mats.

Furthermore, Antarctic fungi are a major force that mediates transformation of rock minerals in situ and makes biologically significant elements available for other organisms.For these reasons, mycobiota plays a central role in the maintenance of ecological equilibrium in Antarctica."

Antarctic fungi and their ecological characteristics

The researchers then added in tehir review: "The dominant fungal division on the continent is Ascomycota (77.1%), and not Basidiomycota (9.1%), as it is the case on other continents.For a number of reasons, yeasts and yeast-like micromycetes (mainly basidiomycetes) are more tolerant to extreme conditions in various Antarctic biotopes than filamentous fungi.

Substantial evidence suggests that filamentous fungi and yeasts are better adapted to existence in ecosystems with extremely low temperatures than other microorganisms. Due to the long-term isolation of Antarctica from other continents, local biota has been evolving largely independently, which led to emergence of multiple endemic fungal taxa.

The presence of eurytopes on the continent is presumably related to the global warming and growing anthropogenic pressure. This review discusses the current state of research on the structure of fungal communities of Antarctic subaerial and subaquatic biotopes, the ecological role of yeast-mycelial dimorphism in Antarctic fungi, the problem of endemism of Antarctic mycobiota, as well as the ecological and physiological adaptations of mushrooms at low temperatures; it also justifies the relevance of research into secondary metabolites of psychrophilic micromycetes."