Illumina amplicon sequencing of soil in a temperate pine forest in the southeastern United States detected an abundant, nitrogen (N)-responsive fungal genotype of unknown phylogenetic affiliation. Two isolates with ribosomal sequences consistent with that genotype were subsequently obtained. Examination of records in GenBank revealed that a genetically similar fungus had been isolated previously as an endophyte of moss in a pine forest in the southwestern United States. The three isolates were characterized using morphological, genomic, and multilocus molecular data (18S, internal transcribed spacer [ITS], and 28S rRNA sequences). Phylogenetic and maximum likelihood phylogenomic reconstructions revealed that the taxon represents a novel lineage in Mucoromycotina, only preceded by Calcarisporiella, the earliest diverging lineage in the subphylum. Sequences for the novel taxon are frequently detected in environmental sequencing studies, and it is currently part of UNITE's dynamic list of most wanted fungi. The fungus is dimorphic, grows best at room temperature, and is associated with a wide variety of bacteria. Here, a new monotypic genus, Bifiguratus, is proposed, typified by Bifiguratus adelaidae.
Keywords: Bryophyte; Mucoromycota; Pinaceae; dimorphic; endophyte; environmental sampling; soil.