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Kurbessoian, Tania [1], Pombubpa, Nuttapon [1], Coleine, Claudia [2], Selbmann, Laura [3], Pietrasiak, Nicole [4], Stajich, Jason [5].

Black Yeast As Desert Sunscreen: Assessing the GeneticComposition of Black Yeasts Found within Biological Soil Crusts.

Biological Soil Crusts (BSCs) are an ancient but vital feature in desertdryland ecosystems. Composed of a consortia of cyanobacteria, algae, bacteria, lichen, bryophytes and fungi, BSCs work in concert to stabilize soil surfaces against natural forces like wind and water during extreme drought. I am focusing on a critical and understudied member of BSC consortia, the black yeasts. Black yeasts may protect BSCs through their unique production of sunscreen-like primary andsecondary metabolism molecules. Black yeasts are stress-tolerant micro-eukaryotes that specialize in extreme environments, such as hot arid deserts and rock surfaces. I isolated 6 different strains of black yeast from biological soil crusts. These crusts were collected from the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts in southern California. Here I depict my culturing technique to how I isolated an axenic culture of the black yeasts from biological soil crusts. DNA was extracted and sequenced using Illumina technology. The genomes were assembled using a variety of tools, specifically AAFTF and annotated using Funannotate. Tools were used that provided secondary metabolism information, such as antiSMASH and BiG-SCAPE, which help create visual depictions between different strains of black yeasts. The analysis has suggested particular secondary metabolites of interest as well as an assortment of 'sunscreen' genes particular to oxidative stress. Uncovering the fungal diversity, specifically the black yeast consortia associated with BSCs will add to our understanding of these important and often neglected communities.

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1 - University of California, Riverside, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA, 92521, United States
2 - Tuscia University, Microbiology, 4 Via Santa Maria in Gradi, Viterbo , Viterbo , 01100, Italy
3 - Tuscia University, 4 Via Santa Maria in Gradi, Viterbo, Viterbo, 01100, Italy
4 - University of New Mexico, Microbiology, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87131-0001, USA
5 - University Of California-Riverside, Dept Microbiology and Plant Pathology, 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA, 92521, United States, 951-827-2363

black yeasts
micro-colonial fungi
biological soil crust
extreme environment

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: MY5, Mycology: Systematics, Biodiversity, and Evolution
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM(EDT)
Number: MY5003
Abstract ID:801
Candidate for Awards:MSA Best Oral Presentation Award by a Graduate Student

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