The Species Problem in Myxomycetes Revisited (2022)

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Article preview Protist Introduction Section snippets Background Currently Used and Potential Species Concepts Moving Towards a Solution Conclusions Acknowledgements Glossary References (148) Trans Br Mycol Soc Protist Mol Phylogenet Evol Protist Protist Mycol Res Curr Biol Eur J Protistol Curr Biol Trans Br Mycol Soc Diversity, nomenclature, and taxonomy of protists Syst Biol The revised classification of eukaryotes J Eukaryot Microbiol Using environmental niche models to test the “everything is everywhere” hypothesis for Badhamia ISME J Influence of inorganic ions on color of lime in the myxomycetes Mycologia What to do with protists? Aust Syst Bot Differentiation of some myxomycetes species by ITS sequences Turk J Botany A search for the origins of animals and fungi: comparing and combining molecular data Am Nat Origin and evolution of the slime molds (Mycetozoa) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Intraspecific genetic variation in Paramecium revealed by mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I sequences J Eukaryot Microbiol Reproductive systems, morphology, and genetical diversity in Didymium iridis (Myxomycetes) Mycologia new species of Licea (Myxomycetes) Proc Iowa Acad Sci Didymium eremophilum: A new myxomycete from the Sonoran Desert Mycologia Towards a molecular taxonomy for protists: benefits, risks and applications in plankton ecology J Eukaryot Microbiol A revised six-kingdom system of life Biol Rev Deep phylogeny, ancestral groups and the four ages of life Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci Sponge phylogeny, animal monophyly, and the origin of the nervous system: 18S rRNA evidence Can J Zool Barcoding ciliates: a comprehensive study of 75 isolates of the genus Tetrahymena Int J Syst Evol Microbiol The myxamoebae of Didymium iridis and Physarum polycephalum are immortal Mycologia Myxomycete reproductive systems: Additional information Mycologia Myxomycete reproductive systems: Stemonitis species Mycologia The species problem in the Myxomycetes Stapfia Studies in the mating systems of eleven species of Myxomycetes Am J Bot Reproductive systems in the myxomycetes: a review Mycosphere Principles and protocols for genetical study of myxomycete reproductive systems and plasmodial coalescence Mycosphere Plasmodial incompatibility in the myxomycetes: a review Mycosphere The nuclear reproductive cycle in the myxomycetes: a review Mycosphere Didymium iridis reproductive systems: additions and meiotic drive Mycologia Didymium iridis reproductive systems: New additions Mycologia Didymium iridis mating systems: partial compatibility between mating series Mycologia Culture and reproductive systems of 11 species of Mycetozoans Mycologia Biosystematics of the myxomycete Arcyria cinerea Mycotaxon Biosystematics of the Didymium iridis super species complex: Additional isolates Mycotaxon First insight into dead wood protistan diversity: a molecular sampling of bright-spored Myxomycetes (Amoebozoa, slime-moulds) in decaying beech logs FEMS Microbiol Ecol What are bacterial species? Annu Rev Microbiol Heterothallism and homothallism in two Myxomycetes Am J Bot Heterothallism and homothallism: a study of 27 isolates of Didymium iridis, a true slime mold Am J Bot Homothallic-heterothallic conversion in a myxomycete, Didymium iridis Mycologia Genetical relatedness of a former apomict and a heterothallic isolate in Didymium iridis (Myxomycetes) Mycologia Further studies on conversion from non-heterothallism to heterothallism in Stemonitis flavogenita (Myxomycetes, Stemonitales) Mycologia Cytophotometric measurement of nuclear DNA in seven heterothallic isolates of Didymium iridis, a myxomycete Am J Bot Cited by (28) Recommended articles (6) FAQs Videos
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Protist

Volume 167, Issue 4,

August 2016

, Pages 319-338

Author links open overlay panelLaura M.Walker1EnvelopeSteven L.Stephenson

Species identification in the myxomycetes (plasmodial slime molds or myxogastrids) poses particular challenges to researchers as a result of their morphological plasticity and frequent alteration between sexual and asexual life strategies. Traditionally, myxomycete morphology has been used as the primary method of species delimitation. However, with the increasing availability of genetic information, traditional myxomycete taxonomy is being increasingly challenged, and new hypotheses continue to emerge. Due to conflicts that sometimes occur between traditional and more modern species concepts that are based largely on molecular data, there is a pressing need to revisit the discussion surrounding the species concept used for myxomycetes. Biological diversity is being increasingly studied with molecular methods and data accumulates at ever-faster rates, making resolution of this matter urgent. In this review, currently used and potentially useful species concepts (biological, morphological, phylogenetic and ecological) are reviewed, and an integrated approach to resolve the myxomycete species problem is discussed.

Introduction

“A particular kind of biological entity” is the definition of a species as proposed by Nixon and Wheeler (1990), and this conforms to the general concept used by most modern biologists. However, a debate has been ongoing since the time of Linnaeus as to the “best” definition of what truly constitutes a species. Haldane (1956) defined a species as “a name given to a group of organisms for convenience, and indeed of necessity.” For practical reasons, the recognition of species is necessary for communication and the general exchange of knowledge and, to be most effective, a species should be defined in a way that is universally accepted yet subject to change as additional data become available (Adl et al., 2007, Cavalier-Smith, 1998). Defining a species is of monumental importance because species are the fundamental units of ecology, carrying out unique roles in their particular niches, communities and ecosystems (Cohan and Perry 2007). Therefore, it is not surprising that reaching an agreement on just how to define a species has proven to be so problematic. Over the years, this debate has led to the creation of more than two dozen different species concepts (Wilkins 2006), ranging from the biological species concept initially proposed by Mayr (1942) to more recent concepts based largely or completely on molecular data (Vasilyeva and Stephenson 2010).

The definition of a species in the myxomycetes (plasmodial slime molds or myxogastrids) has presented particular challenges. With a complex life cycle, several different life strategies, varying levels of phenotypic plasticity and genetic variation, the myxomycetes challenge every major species concept that has been put forward. In this paper, the species concepts currently used for myxomycetes will be discussed. Other potential concepts that could be used, the problems associated with each, the implications of these problems on a larger scale and suggestions that might yield a possible solution also will be considered.

Section snippets

Background

The myxomycetes form a single well-supported clade within the supergroup Amoebozoa (Adl et al., 2012, Fiore-Donno et al., 2010a, Lahr et al., 2011a). Myxomycetes, together with the Dictyostelia (dictyostelids) and members of the genus Ceratiomyxa, form a larger clade referred to as the Macromycetozoa (Fiore-Donno et al. 2010a). Although the members of the Macromycetozoa are defined on the basis of their macroscopic fruiting bodies, this is not an apomorphic character, since the formation of

Currently Used and Potential Species Concepts

Understanding the complexities of the myxomycete life cycle and the various modes of reproduction as described above, is crucial for understanding the problems associated with delimiting species in the myxomycetes. These life cycle complexities and variations have bearing on all of the commonly used species concepts, the four most common of which (biological, morphological, phylogenetic and ecological) are described in the sections below, followed by a discussion of their use (or potential use)

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Moving Towards a Solution

The problems associated with species delimitation are, of course, not limited to the protists or the myxomycetes but are widespread across the tree of life. The complications of rampant lateral gene transfer obscuring phylogenetic signals appear to be restricted largely to prokaryotes (Keeling and Palmer 2008) and thus, are not considered in the present discussion. However, it will be exceedingly useful to integrate an understanding of other groups of eukaryotes in which similar challenges

Conclusions

The myxomycetes challenge many of the currently recognized taxonomic systems, largely due to their morphological plasticity, genetic variability and the presence of several alternative reproductive strategies (sometimes within a single lineage). At present, not everyone who works with this group shares the same concepts for species recognition, even for some of the more common morphospecies that have long been recognized. Furthermore, myxomycetes face a problem that is common in protistology,

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Angela Mele for providing the drawing used for Figure 1 and Dr. Dmitry Leontyev from the Kharkiv State Zooveterinary Academy in the Ukraine for providing the phylogenetic tree used in Figure 3 and all of his helpful comments relating to our most current phylogenetic understanding of the myxomycetes. We thank Dr. Jim Clark for providing his expertise of myxomycete reproduction and assistance in generating Table 3. We also express our appreciation to Dr. Fred Spiegel at the

Glossary

Amoeboflagellate
A uninucleate cell that represents one of the two trophic stages in the life cycle of a myxomycete. The term is used to describe both amoeboid and flagellate forms; in myxomycetes, the two forms are reversible, although division occurs only in the amoeboid form, meaning the flagellum must first be resorbed before undergoing division.

Aphanoplasmodium
A type of plasmodium that is flat, transparent, lacks a protective slime sheath and is difficult to observe in nature;

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      Myxomycetes have been classified with the animal kingdom as well as with fungi. The major trophic stage, the plasmodium, is multinucleate and ingests food in an amoeba-like manner. The amoeboflagellate cells that precede the formation of the plasmodium certainly hint at a connection with protozoan-like organisms in the animal kingdom. The plasmodium gives rise to spore-producing fruiting bodies, and the fungus-like fruiting bodies with spores motivated a supposed relationship with the fungi. Presently, myxomycetes with protostelids and dictyostelids are regarded as phylogenetically closely related and represent a separate side branch of an evolutionary line from amoeboid organisms. This side branch is separate from the line from which fungi and animals arose. On During the first two decades of the 21st century, more than 225 new species have been described. In the present treatment, 68 genera and more than 1050 species are recognized. A revision of the taxonomy and classification and an update on the nomenclature of the group are presented. Recent phylogenetic approaches, based on molecular techniques, also have been taken into consideration. Thanks to the explosive development of the Internet during recent decades it has been possible to develop new tools and design online databases with the purpose to serve, favor, and facilitate taxonomic research by acting as global repositories for data on taxa and literature on myxomycetes. An enumeration of some useful databases, projects, virtual libraries, software, and other tools that facilitate the taxonomic work are included.

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      Taxonomy and Systematics: Current Knowledge and Approaches on the Taxonomic Treatment of Myxomycetes

      Myxomycetes, 2017, pp. 205-251

      Myxomycetes have been classified with the animal kingdom and with fungi. The major trophic stage, the plasmodium, is multinucleate and ingests food in an amoebalike manner. The amoeboflagellate cells that precede the formation of the plasmodium certainly hint at a connection with protozoan-like organisms in the animal kingdom. The plasmodium gives rise to spore-producing fruiting bodies, and the funguslike fruiting bodies with spores motivated a supposed relationship with the fungi. Presently, myxomycetes with protostelids and dictyostelids are regarded as phylogenetically closely related and represent a separate side-branch of an evolutionary line from amoeboid organisms. This side branch is separate from the line from which fungi and animals arose. Over the past 30years, numerous papers with descriptions of new species of myxomycetes have been published and more than 380 new species have been described. In the present treatment, 64 genera and 980 species are recognized. A revision of the taxonomy and classification, as well as an update on the nomenclature of the group are presented. Recent phylogenetic approaches, based on molecular techniques, also have been taken into consideration. Thanks to the explosive development of the Internet during recent decades it has been possible to develop new tools and design online databases with the purpose to serve, favor, and facilitate taxonomic research by acting as global repositories for data on taxa and literature on myxomycetes. An enumeration of some useful databases, projects, virtual libraries, software, and other tools that facilitate the taxonomic work are included.

    • Research article

      The history of the study of myxomycetes

      Myxomycetes, 2022, pp. 47-96

      The myxomycetes have been collected and studied for more than three-and-a half centuries, and during this period, they have been variously classified as plants, animals, or fungi. Numerous individuals have contributed to the body of information currently available for these organisms. Prominent among these were the two Listers (Arthur and Gulielma) in Europe and George Martin and Constantine Alexopoulos in the United States. This chapter represents an effort to highlight the contributions of these and other workers and to provide a brief overview of the studies of myxomycetes carried out in various countries and regions of the world. Early studies of myxomycetes were based entirely upon their morphology, but a more modern multidisciplinary approach, which includes the application of the techniques of molecular biology, is now being used to investigate these organisms.

    1

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    FAQs

    Why are Myxomycetes called Slimemolds? ›

    Their common name refers to part of some of these organisms' life cycles where they can appear as gelatinous "slime". This is mostly seen with the Myxogastria, which are the only macroscopic slime molds.

    Are Myxomycetes harmful? ›

    Are Myxomycetes dangerous? Myxomycetes are not known to be pathogenic or of economic importance. Due to these facts, they were poorly studied. A recent study showed that 42% of subjects who suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis had positive skin test reactions to myxomycete spores.

    Is slime mold a Myxomycetes? ›

    Myxomycetes, also called Mycetozoa, phylum of funguslike organisms within the kingdom Protista, commonly known as true slime molds. They exhibit characteristics of both protozoans (one-celled microorganisms) and fungi. Distributed worldwide, they usually occur in decaying plant material.

    Why are Myxomycetes not fungi? ›

    Myxomycetes (members of the Myxogastria) are fungus-like organisms called slime molds, but they are not members of Kingdom Fungi. In their feeding stage, myxomycetes form one large amoeba with many nuclei and no cell wall. This amoeba moves over damp, decaying material looking for bacteria to engulf and digest.

    What are the characteristics of Myxomycetes? ›

    Introduction to Myxomycetes:

    It is a group of organisms of great scientific interest. Some of these are of remarkable beauty, have delicate structure and brilliant colours. They exist in non-green slimy masses of protoplasm sending out pseudopodia. This has earned for them the name slime molds or slime fungi.

    What are swarm cells in Myxomycetes? ›

    Both swarm cells and myxamoebae function as sex cells (gametes), and the fusion of two such cells constitutes the reproductive act of myxomycetes that begins the next stage of growth, the plasmodium. As the flagella are permanently retracted, the fertilized cell begins to grow by repeated division of its nuclei.

    Is slime mold harmful to humans? ›

    Slime molds are not known to be a danger to human or animals. Chemical treatment is not warranted for this problem. These organisms are very sensitive to the environment.

    How many molds are toxic? ›

    There are five categories of toxic mold. They are Cladosporium, Penicilium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. Some of the species included in these categories may only cause hay fever-like allergic reactions, while others can cause potentially deadly illnesses.

    Is Botrytis harmful to humans? ›

    Botrytis species are well known fungal pathogens of various plants but have not been reported as human pathogens, except as allergenic precipitants of asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

    Are Myxomycetes parasites? ›

    (a)Saprobes or parasites, having mycelium, asexual reproduction by fragmentation. (b)Slimy mass of multinucleate protoplasm having pseudopodia-like structures for engulfing food, reproduction through fragmentation or zoospores.

    Can you eat Myxomycetes? ›

    The present study is of interest because Myxomycetes are not only consumed as food but are used as a kind of medicine in Mexico and Ecuador. This information is important because these organisms represent nutritional alternatives, which are traditional food, especially in regions with scarce resources.

    How many species of slime molds are there? ›

    The Myxomycota are the true (plasmodial) slime molds and the Acrasiomycota are the cellular slime molds. DESCRIPTION: Since there are over 700 different types of slime molds, the shape, structure, and color can be quite variable.

    Is slime alive? ›

    Slime mold is not a plant or animal. It's not a fungus, though it sometimes resembles one. Slime mold, in fact, is a soil-dwelling amoeba, a brainless, single-celled organism, often containing multiple nuclei.

    Where are Myxomycetes found? ›

    There are approximately 500 species of Myxomycetes. They are found on moist soil, decaying wood, and dung.

    Who is the father of modern Myxomycota? ›

    Heinrich Anton de Bary had extensively researched on algae and higher plants and was considered the father of plant pathology. He was also the founder of modern mycology after his contribution to the life history of fungi.

    Do Myxomycetes have cell walls? ›

    The Myxomycota are the true slime molds, also known as the plasmodial slime molds, and are considered members of the kingdom Protista. They exist in nature as a plasmodium—a blob of protoplasm without cell walls and only a cell membrane to keep everything in (Fig. 13).

    What is the meaning of Myxomycota? ›

    Definitions of Myxomycota. slime molds; organisms having a noncellular and multinucleate creeping vegetative phase and a propagative spore-producing stage: comprises Myxomycetes and Acrasiomycetes; in some classifications placed in the kingdom Protoctista. synonyms: Gymnomycota, division Gymnomycota, division ...

    What is somatic phase? ›

    The somatic phase is represented by a multinucleate acellular slimy protoplasmic mass covered only by a cell membrane. This form lacks a cell wall and is called plasmodium.

    What is Myxomycota and Eumycota? ›

    Myxomycota is fungi-like slime mold which lacks cell walls in the animal-like vegetative state while eumycota is true fungi that are filamentous eukaryotic heterotrophic walled microorganisms. So, this is the key difference between myxomycota and eumycota.

    What organism grows in a swarming pattern? ›

    Swarming is found within bacterial colonies that are simultaneously growing and spreading over a surface from which they absorb water and nutrient, such as agar or eukaryotic cells in a tissue.

    What is Myxomycota and Eumycota? ›

    Myxomycota is fungi-like slime mold which lacks cell walls in the animal-like vegetative state while eumycota is true fungi that are filamentous eukaryotic heterotrophic walled microorganisms. So, this is the key difference between myxomycota and eumycota.

    Why are slime molds so unusual? ›

    Slime molds are an unusual group of organisms that have previously been classified as animals, fungi, and plants. Like plants, slime molds have cellulose in the cell walls of their spores. Unlike plants, slime molds are heterotrophs!

    Who is the father of modern Myxomycota? ›

    Heinrich Anton de Bary had extensively researched on algae and higher plants and was considered the father of plant pathology. He was also the founder of modern mycology after his contribution to the life history of fungi.

    What is Myxamoeba? ›

    Myxamoebae are spores released from a slime mold that possess pseudopodia (lobes of cellular material) and are known for their amoeba-like appearance and behaviour.

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