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Review
, 12 (11), 2861-73

Interspecific Hybridization in Plant-Associated Fungi and Oomycetes: A Review

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Review

Interspecific Hybridization in Plant-Associated Fungi and Oomycetes: A Review

C L Schardl et al. Mol Ecol.

Abstract

Fungi (kingdom Mycota) and oomycetes (kingdom Stramenopila, phylum Oomycota) are crucially important in the nutrient cycles of the world. Their interactions with plants sometimes benefit and sometimes act to the detriment of humans. Many fungi establish ecologically vital mutualisms, such as in mycorrhizal fungi that enhance nutrient acquisition, and endophytes that combat insects and other herbivores. Other fungi and many oomycetes are plant pathogens that devastate natural and agricultural populations of plant species. Studies of fungal and oomycete evolution were extraordinarily difficult until the advent of molecular phylogenetics. Over the past decade, researchers applying these new tools to fungi and oomycetes have made astounding new discoveries, among which is the potential for interspecific hybridization. Consequences of hybridization among pathogens include adaptation to new niches such as new host species, and increased or decreased virulence. Hybrid mutualists may also be better adapted to new hosts and can provide greater or more diverse benefits to host plants.

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