Many fungi have been identified as pathogens of marine algae. Among them, Chytridiomycota have been revealed as relatively highly abundant, but much of the diversity known within these groups is almost entirely based on environmental sequencing data. Here, we present a novel chytridiomycete genus and species, characterized by light microscopical observations, ultrastructure, and molecular phylogenetic analysis of the parasitic chytrid of brackish-water dinoflagellate Kryptoperidinium foliaceum from the Baltic Sea. Phylogenetic analysis of rDNA sequences and the ultrastructure of the strain reveals that it represents a new family in the order Rhizophydiales. Ericiomyces syringoforeus gen. et sp. nov. is a parasitoid with a life cycle composed by zoospores, which attach to the host, encyst, and produce a rhizoidal system (haustorium). Unlike typical Rhizophydiales chytrids, sporangium develops as a lateral outgrowth of the encysted zoospore. The ultrastructural study revealed at least two unique traits: the syringe-like organelle in the cyst, which supposed to paralyze the host, and funnel-shaped structure anchoring sporangium in the host wall. Sporangium matures and produces new zoospores within 3 days. Multiple infections are common and then the life cycle is 1–2 days shorter compared to the duration when a single infection occurred. Cross-infection experiments showed that E. syringoforeus could only infect dinoflagellates, being K. foliaceum highly susceptible to infection by the chytrid parasitoid. The effects of some fungal epidemics on populations of Kryptoperidinium are discussed.
|Publication status||Published - 2021|