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Mycelium of Umbelopsis isabellina AD026 growing on malt extract agar (MEA). Image by Alessandro DesirĂ².
Mycelium of Umbelopsis isabellina AD026 growing on malt extract agar (MEA). Image by Alessandro Desirò.

The genome of Umbelopsis isabellina AD026 was sequenced by JGI in the framework of the ZygoLife project and Community Sequencing Project 1978 – “Genomics of the early diverging lineages of fungi and their transition to terrestrial, plant-based ecologies” ( Zygomycetes are an ancient and diverse group of fungi, whose evolutionary history and ecological associations remain poorly resolved. The ZygoLife project aims to: 1) reconstruct the genealogical relationships of this early diverging branch in the fungal tree of life; 2) resolve the origins of symbiotic relationships between plants and zygomycetes; 3) reveal how complex body plans evolved in the group; 4) elucidate mechanisms of mating genetics between organisms with complex and differing life cycles, and; 5) develop genomic barcodes to facilitate identification of unknown fungi. Towards these goals we are sequencing genomes of diverse representative zygomycete taxa.

Formerly classified as belonging to Mortierella, phylogenetic analysis has shown that Umbelopsis isabellina belongs to the subphylum Mucoromycotina (phylum Mucoromycota). Umbelopsis isabellina comprises a complex of species that are widely distributed in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. These fungi are important industrially given their unique lipid and fatty acid metabolism, and high level of intracellular lipid accumulation from various feedstocks. Umbelopsis isabellina is commonly isolated from soil and plant roots, however, its biology and ecology is not well understood.  Umbelopsis isabellina AD026 was isolated from soil collected near the Humphrey’s Peak in North Arizona.