From: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Published July 12, 2017 05:04 PM

Hundreds of species of fungi in deep coral ecosystems discovered by University of Hawaii at Manoa botanists

Researchers from the University of Hawai?i at M?noa Department of Botany have discovered hundreds of potentially new species of fungi in the deep coral ecosystem in the ?Au?au channel off Maui, Hawai?i. Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCE) are generally found at depths between 130–500 feet and possess abundant plant (algal) life as well as new fish species. The mysteries of these reefs are only recently being revealed through technological advances in closed circuit rebreather diving. Previously overlooked—being too precarious for conventional SCUBA and too shallow to justify the cost of frequent submersible dives—mesophotic reefs continuously disclose breathtaking levels of biodiversity with each dive, yielding species and behavioral interactions new to science.

The UH M?noa Hawai?i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) used the Pisces V submersible to collect native algae from the mesophotic reefs in the ?Au?au channel. Using the DNA sequencing facility at the UH M?noa Hawai?i Institute of Marine Biology, Benjamin Wainwright, lead author of the study and UH M?noa botany postdoctoral researcher, and colleagues determined which species of fungus were associated with the native algae.

Thriving in extremely diverse habitats

Fungi have been documented in almost all habitats on Earth, although marine fungi are less studied in comparison to their terrestrial counterparts. Scientists have found fungi in deep and shallow water corals, marine sponges and other invertebrates. The recently discovered fungi, however, were found living in association with algae.

Continue reading at University of Hawaii at Manoa

Image: Manipulator arm of the Pisces V sub collecting algae in 'Au'au channel. Credit: HURL

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