Genomes from the New Zealand Bush



We are interested in NZ bush, particularly Southern Beech (Tawhai) Forest. We take a variety of approaches to understand the relationship between trees and fungi.

Breaking news (11/2019):

Our Study is funded by the Marsden fund 2020-2024

Why did NZ mushrooms turn into truffles: Fruit body differentiation in mushrooms and truffle-like fungi

The repeated evolution of similar physiological and morphological traits occurs throughout the tree of life. This repeated appearance of similar phenotypes is likely to be governed by common genetic and cellular mechanisms. Identification of shared genetic pathways can reveal mechanisms underlying development of complex structures. The repeated parallel evolution of truffle-like fungi is an excellent model system in which to discover such common genetic mechanisms. Truffle-like fungi evolved independently many times to rely on animals to disperse their spores, rather than wind like their mushroom ancestors. Based on our preliminary genomic analysis, we hypothesise that switching from mushroom to truffle-like growth has occurred due to convergent changes to a small number of discrete genetic pathways. Comparative genomics and transcriptomics will be used to identify the hypothesised genetic alterations for the switch between mushrooms and truffles. We will test experimentally if these changes are sufficient to turn mushrooms into truffles in the laboratory using model truffle/mushroom species pairs. We will address crucial gaps in knowledge of the assembly of fruiting bodies and will improve understanding of convergent evolution within ecologically relevant organisms. Our results will enable future hypotheses to be tested about the factors driving the evolution of truffle-like fruiting bodies.

People involved

David Orlovich

Chris Brown

Tina Summerfield

David Chyou

Andy Nilsen

Jonathon Plett (Sydney)

Other projects at Otago

Beech Tree (Tawhai) genomics

Fungal comparative genomics

Purple, Red and Brown NZ fungi

Other NZ projects


Kauri die-back

Page last update 11/09/2022 by CMB

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