Biologists figure they’ve probably only cataloged about 10 percent of all fungal species. But they thought they at least knew all of the major groups.
They found novel bits of DNA — related to fungi, but clearly different from all of the known varieties — just about everywhere, “including pond water, lake water, freshwater sediments and marine sediments,” Richards says. “Almost everywhere we looked we found this novel group.”
They then brought samples back to the lab and devised a technique to make the organisms containing this novel DNA glow under a microscope. As a result, they’ve managed to get a few glimpses of these mysterious life forms, which they have named cryptomycota.
“We know they have at least three stages to their life cycle,” Richards says. “One is where they attach to a host, which are photosynthetic algae. Another stage … they form swimming tails so they can presumably find food. And [there’s] another stage, which we call the cyst phase, where they go to sleep.”
Science continues to explore and find new wonders around us. There is so much still to learn.
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