Evolution of fungi and mechanism of wood decay

Project: University of Helsinki Three-Year Research Project

Project Details

Description (abstract)

Fungi are the main agents of wood decay, and fungal decomposition of wood plays a major ecological role in terrestrial ecosystems and in the global carbon cycle. Wood-rot fungi have become subject of applied research due to their potential in future biomass-based energy and industrial production. The main types of wood decay, white and brown rot, are caused by fungi of the class Agaricomycetes and Dacrymycetes; most other fungi lack efficient wood rot ability.

This research project will expand genomic sampling with novel genomes in currently unsampled lineages (orders and families) of the Agaricomycetes, particularly at the basal part of the family tree. We will use this dataset to study the following questions:

1. When did brown rot and white rot fungi diverge?
Tracing the origin of these high-impact fungal innovations and how they came about may offer insight in studying wood decomposition in extant fungi.

2. What are the historical patterns of transition between brown rot and white rot fungi?
According to current knowledge brown-rotters have evolved from white-rot fungi several times independently, loosing much of their lignocellulolytic enzyme machinery in the process. The project will sample unstudied brown rot lineages to better understand transitions between the two types of rot.

3. In which way do wood decomposition mechanisms differ between brown rot lineages?
The actual mechanism of brown rot has been studied in a few mode species only, representing minority of brown rot lineages. We will expand the genomic sampling to the rest of the brown rot lineages. This allows deeper comparative genomics analyses as well as enables further research in brown-rot mechanisms through transcriptomics and proteomics.

Currently genomes of the following species are being sequenced in collaboration with the US DOE Joint Genome Institute:
Amylocorticium subincarnatum (Amylocorticiales)
Anomoloma albolutescens (Amylocorticiales)
Anomoporia kamtchatica (Amylocorticiales)
Boreostereum radiatum (Gloeophyllales)
Cerinomyces crustulinus (Dacrymycetes)
Ceriporia viridans (Polyporales)
Crustoderma dryinum (Polyporales)
Dacrymyces tortus (Dacrymycetes)
Dacryonaema rufum (Dacrymycetes)
Femsjonia peziziformis (Dacrymycetes)
Hyphoderma argillaceum (incertae sedis)
Leptoporus mollis (Polyporales)
Phlebia subcretacea (incertae sedis)
Phlebiella tulasnelloidea (incertae sedis)
Porpomyces mucidus (Trechisporales)
Postia stiptica (Polyporales)
Serpulomyces borealis (Amylocorticiales)
Sistotrema raduloides (Cantharellales)
Skeletocutis biguttulata (Polyporales)
Veluticeps abietina (Gloeophyllales)
Effective start/end date01/01/201731/12/2020


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