Moselio Schaechter

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November 28, 2013

Talmudic Question #103

Why do you suppose there are few, if any, mycorrhizae in aquatic environments?


some fungal endophytes of algae that i've heard of:

Blodgettia bornetti grows in the walls of tropical Cladophora (ulvos)

Mycosphaerella ascophylli is a symbiont of Ascophyllum nodosum (phaeo) the algae will not develop without the fungus! the fungus grows between the cells and reproduces asexually there.

hmm i just moved to the atlantic coast and A. nodosum is all over the place. I should grab me a sprig and get it under the microscope and see if i can find this little boogers!

Tugidosculum ulvae infects Ulva vexata.

Kohlmeyer, Jan and E. Kohlmeyer. 1979 "submarine lichens and lichenlike associations" in "marine mycology: the higher fungi" p70-78 acad press ny

this is a fun question

1) the plant/fungus thing is only about 500million years old, right? it evolved to solve the problem of living on land. as far as i can tell, the fungal phyla did not start out in the sea. are there marine Chytridioycota? i wonder whats their closest marine relative?

I think Microsporidia are related and some are fish parasites? did they evolve on land or at sea?

2) so as the previous commentor and the McMenamins in their book "Hypersea" mentioned, no need if there is free diffusion in aquatic environments. but i recall that the open ocean is low on nutrients, is that true for the waters in which we find kelp beds? would they benefit from growing mineral absorbing roots?

3) it took 3billion years for life to come up with the plant/fungus thing and then we soon got tropical rain forests. maybe in another 3billion years kelps will evolve that can grow roots and rise miles up to the open oceans? if trees can do 300 feet of transport, why not?

4) besides mycorrhiza we've been discovering that there may be just as many endophytic fungi in lurking about in plants. how many in marine algae?

5) Plants, fungi and insects are quintessential land critters, why haven't they been able to explode into marine environments?

6) no mycorrhiza in pond plants? hmm... that would be interesting to look into. do you have sources that say there are few? there are certainly freshwater chytrids!

7) whats happening in estruaries?

8) there are a few splash zone lichens i think, why not more?

9) Oomycota are not related to fungi, but have some similar habits and there are freshwater ones.

I imagine obtaining water is not a huge problem for aquatic plants. Though I am not sure about obtaining minerals/nutrients.

Are there aquatic, filamentous Fungi? It may be a limitation on the fungal parther.

Elio replies:

Fungi are not abundant in the oceans but they do exist, filamentous ones included. A neglected topic, for sure.

Thanks for your interest.

Because diffusion of molecules in aquatic environments does not favor a physical network?

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