An international team of scientists from the UK, USA and France has discovered the oldest pathogenic fungus, which is 407 million years old. The species was named Potteromyces asteroxylicola in honor of Beatrix Potter, a British children’s author and mycologist enthusiast. The study was published in the scientific journal magazine Nature Communications (NatComms).
Potteromyces was found in fossil samples from the Rhynie Chert, an important geological feature in Scotland. He reached the petrified stem of the Asteroxylon mackiei plant. Some time later, the team discovered a second specimen of this organism in the collections of the National Museums of Scotland.
Modern parasitic fungi that attack ash trees may be ancient descendants of Potteromyces asteroxylicola, scientists say.
“Although other fungal parasites have been found in this region before, this is the first time one of them has caused disease. Moreover, Potteromyces can provide valuable information for determining the timing of the evolution of different groups of fungi,” said Dr. Christine Strullu-Derrien, lead author of the study.
Previous scientists discovered A fungal infection that affects the human brain.
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