Predicting Species Boundaries and Assessing Undescribed Diversity in , an Obligate Lung Symbiont

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Far more biodiversity exists in Fungi than has been described, or could be described in several lifetimes, given current rates of species discovery. Although this problem is widespread taxonomically, our knowledge of animal-associated fungi is especially lacking. Fungi in the genus are obligate inhabitants of mammal lungs, and they have been detected in a phylogenetically diverse array of species representing many major mammal lineages. The hypothesis that cospeciate with their mammalian hosts suggests that thousands of species may exist, potentially equal to the number of mammal species. However, only six species have been described, and the true correspondence of diversity to host species boundaries is unclear. Here, we use molecular species delimitation to estimate the boundaries of species sampled from 55 mammal species representing eight orders. Our results suggest that species often colonize several closely related mammals, especially those in the same genus. Using the newly estimated ratio of fungal to host diversity, we estimate ≈4600 to 6250 species inhabit the 6495 currently recognized extant mammal species. Additionally, we review the literature and find that only 240 (~3.7%) mammal species have been screened for , and many detected lineages are not represented by any genetic data. Although crude, our findings challenge the dominant perspective of strict specificity of to their mammal hosts and highlight an abundance of undescribed diversity.

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Journal of fungi (Basel, Switzerland)

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