Fungal colonies cultured from samples collected in various Woods Hole marine environments

Researchers collected 35 species of marine fungi in the waters off of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, including some that had never been studied before, and found unusual cell division cycles in some species of yeast. Their findings were published in Current Biology October 21.

“There’s hardly anything known about fungi in the marine environment,” says lead author Amy Gladfelter, a cell biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a research fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, in a news release. “This was an opportunity to understand who might be there and what they’re doing, and also to discover some new fungal systems that might display interesting biology.”

Black yeasts, in particular, showed unexpected reproduction methods. One species, Hortaea werneckii, was found to alternate between fission, the division...

Another species, Aureobasidium pullulans, produced multiple buds at a time, unlike well-studied laboratory yeasts that form them one by one. “The division cycles of these yeasts display far more plasticity and behave in unconventional ways not predicted by the studies from model yeasts,” the authors write in the paper. 

Hortaea werneckii dividing by fission and budding

L.M.Y. Mitchison-Field et al., “Unconventional cell division cycles from marine-derived yeasts,” Curr Biol, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.050, 2019.

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at

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