Michigan State researchers believe algae and fungi could have colonized land together

July 25, 2019 |

In Michigan, new research from Michigan State University, and published in the journal eLife, presents evidence that algae could have piggybacked on fungi to leave the water and to colonize the land, over 500 million years ago.

Researchers selected a strain of soil fungus and marine alga from old lineages, respectively Mortierella elongata and Nannochloropsis oceanica. When grown together, both organisms form a strong relationship.

Surprisingly, when they are grown together for a long time—around a month—some algal cells enter the fungal cells. Both organisms remain active and healthy in this relationship.

This is the first time scientists have seen fungi internalize a eukaryotic, photosynthetic organism. They call it a photosynthetic mycelium. Both organisms are biotech related strains because they produce high amounts of oil. Researchers are testing them as a platform to produce high-value compounds, such as biofuels or Omega 3 fatty acids.

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Category: Research

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