Fossil mycoparasite like extant Trichoderma (2)
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wavy hyphaeThe peculiar combination of traits of the fungus Trichoderma which is able to live as a symbiont in plants and to destroy harmful fungi, has made its several species well-known means of crop protection. Continuing research involving molecular genetics, with the aim to further improve the performance of its several commercially grown species and strains, has yielded, in addition to results of agricultural importance, the minor but interesting scientific result that the useful combination of traits must have evolved far back in time [1]. Apparently no fossil evidence of a plant symbiont attacking a harmful fungus has been found hitherto. Hence it is important, less commercially than scientifically, that wavy hyphae (Fig.1 and Part 1) strongly resembling extant Trichoderma [2] with respect to both waviness and contact to other hyphae are seen in the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert.

Fig.1: Wavy or spiralling fungus hyphae grown along "normal" ones,
thus resembling extant Trichoderma.

& Width of the image 4.4mm, same scale as images in Part 1.

curling hyphaecurly hypha
Fig.3 (above): Hypha curling around and probably contacting a straight hypha, detail of Fig.2.

Fig.2 (left): Hyphae of different aspect grown in a water-filled cavity, preserved in silica gel turned into chalzedony, topped with quartz; thick microbial stratum below.

The large loops probably contacting a straight hypha suggest a simlar parasitic relation as with the tight irregular turns in Fig.1. So it might be the same fungus or a closely related species.
There are combinations of straight and wavy hyphae which possibly indicate that this fungus is rather variable with respect to its way of life. (See [3] and Part 1, Fig.6.). 
It is hoped that more observations on uncommon fossil hyphae eventually will contribute to better understanding the kind of mycoparasitism known from the peculiar fungus Trichoderma.

H.-J. Weiss      2017

[1]  C.P. Kubicek: Comparative genome sequence analysis underscores mycoparasitism as the ancestral life style of Trichoderma. Genome Biol. 2011; 12(4): R40.
[2]  Google: jgi mycocosm Trichoderma virens
[3], Rhynie Chert News 78.

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