Mushrooms are the reproductive structures of certain species of fungi, and they are a nutritious and sustainable food source for a growing world population. Very little is known about how mushrooms form. For example, only a handful of genes are known to be involved in this developmental process. The aim of this project is to gain more insight in the regulation of mushroom development. Specifically, we want to know which regulatory genes (transcription factors) control the initiation of mushroom growth and development. More knowledge about mushroom development will eventually lead to more efficient cultivation of additional species of mushroom-forming fungi.
Most mushroom-forming fungi are very difficult to work with in the lab, since they grow very slowly or because they are not genetically accessible. For this reason we use the model mushroom Schizophyllum commune . We have sequenced the genomes of several interesting strains of this species, and we determined how genes are regulated during mushroom development. Importantly, we have recently developed a technique based on CRISPR/Cas9 to efficiently make edits to the genome, allowing us to study gene function with much greater ease. We currently use this technique (as well as other approaches) to study the role of important regulatory genes during mushroom development.
The project is funded with the ERC Starting Grant awarded to Robin Ohm.
Figure. Mushroom development in the model system Schizophyllum commune.