Osmotolerance as a determinant of microbial ecology: A study of phylogenetically diverse fungi

Claudinéia A.S. Araújo, Paulo C. Ferreira, Breno Pupin, Luciana P. Dias, Javier Avalos, Jessica Edwards, John E. Hallsworth, Drauzio E.N. Rangel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Osmotic stress induced by high solute concentration can prevent fungal metabolism and growth due to alterations in properties of the cytosol, changes in turgor, and the energy required to synthesize and retain compatible solutes. We used germination to quantify tolerance/sensitivity to the osmolyte KCl (0.1–4.5 M, in 0.1 M increments) for 71 strains (40 species) of ecologically diverse fungi. These include 11 saprotrophic species (17 strains, including two xerophilic species), five mycoparasitic species (five strains), six plant-pathogenic species (13 strains), and 19 entomopathogenic species (36 strains). A dendrogram obtained from cluster analyses, based on KCl inhibitory concentrations 50 % and 90 % calculated by Probit Analysis, revealed three groups of fungal isolates accordingly to their osmotolerance. The most-osmotolerant group (Group 3) contained the majority of saprotrophic fungi, and Aspergillus niger (F19) was the most tolerant. The highly xerophilic Aspergillus montevidense and Aspergillus pseudoglaucus were the second- and third-most tolerant species, respectively. All Aspergillus and Cladosporium species belonged to Group 3, followed by the entomopathogens Colletotrichum fioriniae, Simplicillium lanosoniveum, and Trichothecium roseum. Group 2 exhibited a moderate osmotolerance, and included plant-pathogens such as Colletotrichum and Fusarium, mycoparasites such as Clonostachys spp, some saprotrophs such as Mucor and Penicillium spp., and some entomopathogens such as Isaria, Lecanicillium, Mariannaea, Simplicillium, and Torrubiella. Group 1 contained the osmo-sensitive strains: the rest of the entomopathogens and the mycoparasitic Gliocladium and Trichoderma. Although stress tolerance did not correlate with their primary ecological niche, classification of these 71 fungal strains was more closely aligned with their ecology than with their phylogenetic relatedness. We discuss the implications for both microbial ecology and fungal taxonomy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFungal Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Conidial germination
  • Fungal ecology
  • Halotolerance
  • Osmotic stress
  • Potassium chloride
  • Xerotolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Infectious Diseases

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