Life (Basel) 10(12) (Dec 19 2020)
The polyphyletic group of black fungi within the Ascomycota (Arthoniomycetes, Dothideomycetes, and Eurotiomycetes) is ubiquitous in natural and anthropogenic habitats. Partly because of their dark, melanin-based pigmentation, black fungi are resistant to stresses including UV- and ionizing-radiation, heat and desiccation, toxic metals, and organic pollutants. Consequently, they are amongst the most stunning extremophiles and poly-extreme-tolerant organisms on Earth. Even though ca. 60 black fungal genomes have been sequenced to date, [mostly in the family Herpotrichiellaceae (Eurotiomycetes)], the class Dothideomycetes that hosts the largest majority of extremophiles has only been sparsely sampled. By sequencing up to 92 species that will become reference genomes, the “Shed light in The daRk lineagES of the fungal tree of life” (STRES) project will cover a broad collection of black fungal diversity spread throughout the Fungal Tree of Life. Interestingly, the STRES project will focus on mostly unsampled genera that display different ecologies and life-styles (e.g., ant- and lichen-associated fungi, rock-inhabiting fungi, etc.). With a resequencing strategy of 10- to 15-fold depth coverage of up to ~550 strains, numerous new reference genomes will be established. To identify metabolites and functional processes, these new genomic resources will be enriched with metabolomics analyses coupled with transcriptomics experiments on selected species under various stress conditions (salinity, dryness, UV radiation, oligotrophy). The data acquired will serve as a reference and foundation for establishing an encyclopedic database for fungal metagenomics as well as the biology, evolution, and ecology of the fungi in extreme environments.