Breaking news (11/.2019):
Our Study is funded by the Marsden fund 2020-2023
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.
PhD and other projects available soon.
Jonathon Plett (Sydney)
Other projects at Otago
Beech Tree (Tawhai) genomics
Fungal comparative genomics
Purple, Red and Brown NZ fungi
Other NZ projects
Page last update 11/12/2019 by CMB
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