Archive for the ‘Symbiosis’ category

1000 Fungal Genome (1KFG) project: Graduate Student-Postdoc Challenge (2014)

August 6th, 2014

The 1000 Fungal Genome (1KFG) project is a large-scale community sequencing project supported by the Joint Genome Institute (JGI).  The goal of 1KFG is to facilitate the sequencing of fungal genomes across the Kingdom Fungi with the objective to significantly advance genome-enabled mycology.  The sampling guideline is to sequence two species of fungi for every family-level clade of Fungi so that genomic data is representative of phylogenetic diversity of Fungi. In support of this endeavor, 1KFG is pleased to announce the Graduate Student/Postdoc Challenge.  From July 2014-June 30 2015 we will accept nominations to sequence up to 100 species of fungi in support of graduate student and postdoctoral research projects.  Students and postdocs are encouraged to nominate species and submit DNA and RNA samples for genomic sequencing.


Follow the link to find out how to nominate species.


Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative – Year 3

July 31st, 2014

In 2003, the Poplar Mesocosm Sequencing project was launched to sequence the genome of three Populus-associated fungi, the ectomycorrhizal (EM) basidiomycete Laccaria bicolor, the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) glomeromycete Rhizophagus irregularis (formerly Glomus intraradices), and the poplar leaf rust Melampsora larici-populina. The publication of the genome sequence of L. bicolor was a landmark event for the mycorrhizal community. It has been rapidly followed by the release of the genome of the iconic edible EM Tuber melanosporum, the Périgord black truffle and more recently, by the genome of Rhizophagus irregularis. These genomes have provided unprecedented knowledge about the structure and functioning of the mycorrhizal fungal species and their interactions with their host plants. Genome-wide transcript profilings have also led to the identification of master genes with crucial roles in symbiosis formation, such as those coding for Mycorrhiza-induced Small Secreted Proteins (MiSSPs) controling plant immunity and development.

An international effort, referred as to the Mycorrhiza 25 Genomes Project and then the Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative (MGI), aiming to unearth the evolution and functioning of mycorrhizal symbioses through large-scale genome sequencing has been launched in 2011. As of writing, this initiative targets a set of 35 fungal species that are able to form various types of mycorrhizal symbioses, i.e., EM, arbuscular, ericoid and orchid mycorrhizae (see my previous posts ‘Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative‘ and ‘Exploring the Mycorrhizal Genomes‘ ). Sequencing is carried out at JGI and Genoscope in the framework of the JGI Community Science Program, the 1000 Fungal Genomes Project and the TuberEvol project. Comparison of these genomes should facilitate the characterization of the genetic mechanisms that underpin the formation and evolution of ecologically-relevant mycorrhizal symbioses and characterization of genes selectively associated with particular symbiotic patterns.

The fungal species sequenced have been selected based on: (1) their phylogenetic position, (2) their ecological relevance, and (3) their ability to establish different types of mycorrhizal symbiosis. As of today, genomic sequences and gene repertoires are publicly available for 28 mycorrhizal fungi, including 24 ectomycorrhizal species, 3 ericoid species, 2 orchid mycorrhizal species and 1 arbuscular mycorrhizal species (see Table below & see the JGI MycoCosm Mycorrhizal Fungi portal.

Genomes of the sequenced mycorrhizal fungi range in size from about 36 Mb, as in the case of Rhizopogon vinicolor, to a 193 Mb, as in Tuber magnatum (Table). Repetitive DNA, mostly in the form of transposable elements (TE), is responsible for the bulk of the variation. A striking feature is the wide variation in repetitive DNA content (from 3.6 % for H. cylindrosporum to 58.3% for T. magnatum). Predicted gene contents range from about 7500 for T. melanosporum to ~28000 genes for Rhizophagus irregularis.

We are drafting a paper summarizing the main conclusions from the analysis of the first series of mycorrhizal genomes. Stay tune!


Species Genome size Gene #
1 Amanita muscaria Koide v1.01 40,699,759 18,153
2 Boletus edulis v1.01 46,637,611 16,933
3 Cenococcum geophilum 1.58 v2.01 177,557,160 14,748
4 Choiromyces venosus 120613-1 v1.01 126,035,033 17,986
5 Cortinarius glaucopus AT 2004 276 v2.01 63,450,306 20,377
6 Gyrodon lividus BX v1.01 43,048,674 11,779
7 Hebeloma cylindrosporum h7 v2.01 38,226,047 15,382
8 Laccaria amethystina LaAM-08-1 v1.01 52,197,432 21,066
9 Laccaria bicolor 81306 v1.01 50,950,722 17,791
10 Laccaria bicolor D101 v1.01 70,029,479 22,538
11 Laccaria bicolor S238N-H70 v1.01 57,049,857 19,903
12 Laccaria bicolor S238N-H82 v1.01 52,023,709 18,706
13 Laccaria bicolor S238N-H82xH70 v1.01 42,115,601 17,045
14 Laccaria bicolor v2.01 60,707,050 23,132
15 Meliniomyces bicolor E v2.03 82,384,847 18,619
16 Meliniomyces variabilis F v1.03 55,857,776 20,389
17 Morchella conica CCBAS932 v1.01 48,213,273 11,600
18 Oidiodendron maius Zn v1.03 46,426,256 16,703
19 Paxillus involutus ATCC 200175 v1.01 58,301,126 17,968
20 Paxillus rubicundulus Ve08.2h10 v1.01 53,011,005 22,065
21 Piloderma croceum F 1598 v1.01 59,326,866 21,583
22 Pisolithus microcarpus 441 v1.01 53,027,657 21,064
23 Pisolithus tinctorius Marx 270 v1.0 71,007,534 22,701
24 Rhizophagus irregularis DAOM 181602 v1.02 91,083,792 30,282
25 Rhizopogon vinicolor AM-OR11-026 v1.01 36,102,320 14,469
26 Scleroderma citrinum Foug A v1.01 56,144,862 21,012
27 Sebacina vermifera MAFF 305830 v1.04 38,094,242 15,312
28 Suillus brevipes v1.01 51,712,595 22,453
29 Suillus luteus UH-Slu-Lm8-n1 v1.01 37,014,302 18,316
30 Terfezia boudieri S1 v1.01 63,234,573 10,200
31 Tricholoma matsutake 945 v3.01 175,759,688 22,885
32 Tuber aestivum1 131,544,163 9,344
33 Tuber magnatum v1.01 192,781,443 9,433
33 Tuber melanosporum v1.01 124,945,702 7,496
34 Tulasnella calospora AL13/4D v1.04 62,392,858 19,659
35 Wilcoxina mikolae CBS 423.85 v1.01 117,288,895 13,093



March 11th, 2014

July 19th, 2013

An INRA-JGI Bastille Day tribute!

July 14th, 2013
In the spirit of Bastille Day, I enthuse (in French with English subtitles) about the Joint Genome Institute’s contributions to the field of fungal genomics:
I enjoyed shooting this video at the Fungal Genetics Conference in Asilomar in March 2013. Thanks to David Gilbert from the JGI, we had a lot of fun working with the video crew.

Photo: ©

Alisha owenby lands an NSF DDIG

May 23rd, 2013

From Joey Spatafora Lab blog

[Alisha Owensby, PhD candidate in the lab, was recently awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) for her proposal, “Evolutionary Genomics of Inter-Kingdom Host-Jumping in the Fungal Genus Elaphocordyceps“.  Way to go!  If you follow our blog, you know that Alisha is currently in Nancy, France working in the laboratory of Francis Martin at INRA.  She is working on the genome of Elaphomyces, one of the hosts of Elaphocordyceps.  This is a particularly challenging project as Elaphomyces does not culture and thus the genomic libraries are prepared from DNA and RNA extracted directly from sporocarps and are metagenomic in nature.  The photo is of Alisha working in Francis’ lab doing an RNA extraction.  Just a few more weeks and she’ll be back.  Bring wine and cheese!!]

Photo: Alisha and Nicolas extracting Elaphomyces RNA for RNA-Seq

Fungal Carbon Sequestration

March 29th, 2013


By  K. E. Clemmensen, A. Bahr, O. Ovaskainen, A. Dahlberg, A. Ekblad, H. Wallander, J. Stenlid, R. D. Finlay, D. A. Wardle, B. D. Lindahl


Abstract. Boreal forest soils function as a terrestrial net sink in the global carbon cycle. The prevailing dogma has focused on aboveground plant litter as a principal source of soil organic matter. Using 14 C bomb-carbon modeling, we show that 50 to 70% of stored carbon in a chronosequence of boreal forested islands derives from roots and root-associated microorganisms. Fungal biomarkers indicate impaired degradation and preservation of fungal residues in late successional forests. Furthermore, 454 pyrosequencing of molecular barcodes, in conjunction with stable isotope analyses, highlights root-associated fungi as important regulators of ecosystem carbon dynamics. Our results suggest an alternative mechanism for the accumulation of organic matter in boreal forests during succession in the long-term absence of disturbance]

Read also the linked Commentary by Kathleen K. Treseder and Sandra R. HoldenFungal Carbon Sequestration.

Photo: One of the investigated island situated in the two adjacent lakes Uddjaure and Hornavan in the Northern boreal zone of Sweden (from Björn Lindahl’s home page).


Genomics of Fungal Drug Producers

March 2nd, 2013

In a breakthrough paper, Schardl’s group and collaborators have published 15 genomes of diverse species of Clavicipitaceae plant endophytes and parasites in the last issue of PloS Genetics. The Clavicipitaceae (PezizomycotinaSordariomycetes, Hypocreales) includes “ergot” fungi that parasitize ears of cereals and produce  the toxic ergoline derivatives; ergot fungi have historically caused epidemics of gangrenous poisonings, the ergotism, also known as the Saint Anthony’s Fire. The ascomycetous family also includes plant endophytic symbionts that produce several psychoactive and bioprotective alkaloids. The family includes grass symbionts in the epichloae clade (Epichloë and Neotyphodium species), which are extraordinarily diverse both in their host interactions and in their alkaloid profiles. They synthesize alkaloids with chemical similarities to biogenic amines that deter insects, livestock, and wildlife from feeding on the fungus or plant. Thanks to this chemical warfare, Epichloae protect their hosts from cattle grazing. The lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a semisynthetic ergot alkaloid originally developed as an antidepressant, is the most potent known hallucinogen.

In this study, they sequenced the genomes of 10 epichloae, three ergot fungi (Claviceps species), a morning-glory symbiont (Periglandula ipomoeae), and the bamboo witch’s broom pathogen (Aciculosporium take), profiled the alkaloids in these species and compared the gene clusters for four classes of alkaloids. The genomes were primarily sequenced by shotgun 454 pyrosequencing, but paired-end and mate-pair reads were used to scaffold several assemblies. Size of the assembled genome among the sequenced strains varied 2-fold from 29.2 to 58.7 Mb, with wide ranges even within the genera Claviceps (31–52.3 Mb) and Epichloë (29.2–49.3 Mb). This genome size variation is mainly resulting from the abundance of repeated elements, which ranged from 4.7 to 56.9%. Annotated genome sequences have been posted at

In the epichloae, the clusters of genes coding for enzymes of alkaloid biosynthesis contain very large blocks of repetitive elements which promote gene losses, mutations, and even the evolution of new genes. Two striking features emerged from the detailed analysis of alkaloid biosynthesis gene clusters. Firstly, in most alkaloid loci in most species, the periphery of each cluster was enriched in genes that by virtue of their presence, absence, or sequence variations determined the diversity of alkaloids within the respective chemical class. Second, alkaloid gene loci of the epichloae had extraordinarily large and pervasive blocks of AT- rich repeats derived from retroelements, DNA transposons, and MITEs. This finding suggests that these plant-interacting fungi are under selection for alkaloid diversification.

In their conclusions, the authors suggest that this selection of chemotypes is related to the variable life histories of the epichloae, their protective roles as symbionts, and their associations with the ecologically diverse cool-season grasses.

Schardl CL, Young CA, Hesse U, Amyotte SG, Andreeva K, et al. (2013) Plant-Symbiotic Fungi as Chemical Engineers: Multi-Genome Analysis of the Clavicipitaceae Reveals Dynamics of Alkaloid Loci. PLoS Genet 9(2): e1003323. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003323

Image: Claviceps purpurea -Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (Wikimedia Commons).

A Cornucopia of Mycorrhizal Genomes

February 23rd, 2013

Mycorrhizal symbioses are nearly universal in terrestrial plants. Based on host plant and characteristic symbiotic structures, several classes of mycorrhizal symbioses are currently recognised, with the two major types being the endocellular arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) and the intercellular ectomycorrhiza (ECM). Mark Brundrett’s web site provides an excellent introduction to the different types of mycorrhizal symbioses. Briefly,

In AM association, the fungal hyphae penetrates host roots to form intracellular arbuscules and vesicles.

In ECM, colonizing hyphae remain in the intercellular, apoplastic space forming the Hartig net. They do not penetrate the root cells. ECM are mostly form by basidiomycetes (e.g., Amanita, Boletus, Sebacina), but some are formed with ascomycetes (e.g., Tuber, Terfezia).

Additionally, the ericoid mycorrhiza (ERM) has been regarded as the most specific of mycorrhizas because of its limitation to hosts belonging to a restricted number of families of the Ericales and the participation of a small group of ascomycetous fungi (e.g., Helotiales) as mycobionts in the association. Ericoid fungi form hyphal coils in outer cells of the narrow “hair roots” of plants in the family Ericaceae, such as Vaccinium and Calluna.

All orchids are myco-heterotrophic at some stage during their lifecycle and form orchid mycorrhizas with a range of basidiomycete fungi (e.g., Tulasnella). The mycobiont forms coils of hyphae within roots or stems of orchidaceous plants. This type of mycorrhiza is unique because the endophytic fungus supplies the plant with carbon during the heterotrophic seedling stage of orchidaceous plants. The mycorrhizal fungi are often Tulasnellales, a basidiomycetous order that contains plant parasites and saprobes capable of degrading complex carbohydrates, such as cellulose.

Whether these different types of mycorrhizal fungi forming strikingly different anatomical structures and with contrasted biology and ecology differ in their gene repertoires and symbiosis-related gene networks is currently unknown and tackling these major questions is the main impetus of the current Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative lead by the JGI and INRA (see my previous posts ‘Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative‘ and ‘Exploring the Mycorrhizal Genomes‘ )

The genome of 30 representatives of these various types of mycorrhizal symbioses are currently sequenced and these tremendous genomic resources are providing new highlights on the biology, genetic and ecology of these symbioses. The findings obtained previously on L. bicolor and T. melanosporum genomes suggested that the ECM condition represents a syndrome of variable traits and that mycorrhizal fungi share fewer functional similarities in their molecular ‘toolboxes’ than anticipated (Plett & Martin, 2011) and this hypothesis is confirmed by the newly available genomes. We see very different symbiosis-upregulated genes in the various mycorrhizal lineages suggesting that these are non-homologous ecologies and that there are many routes to the similar nutritional modes. Several talks and posters at the forthcoming 27th Fungal Genetics Conference in Asilomar will illustrate several breakthroughs obtained by the MGI consortium members.

As of writing, the mycorrhizal species sequenced, assembled and annotated span a wide section of the evolutionary tree of Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, and include ectomycorrhizal, ericoid and orchid symbionts as follows:

Ectomycorrhizal species:

  • Amanita muscaria,
  • Boletus edulis
  • Cenococcum geophilum,
  • Cortinarius glaucopus,
  • Hebeloma cylindrosporum h7  (v2.0),
  • Laccaria amethystina 08-1,
  • Laccaria bicolor (v2.0),
  • Paxillus involutus,
  • Paxillus rubicundulus,
  • Piloderma croceum F 1598,
  • Pisolithus microcarpus 441,
  • Pisolithus tinctorius 270,
  • Scleroderma citrinum FougA,
  • Suillus luteus UH-Slu-Lm8-n1,
  • Terfezia boudieri,
  • Tricholoma matsutake 945.

Orchid mycorrhizal species:

  • Tulasnella calospora AL13/4D
  • Sebacina vermifera MAFF 305830,

Ericoid mycorrhizal species

  • Oidiodendron maius Zn,
  • Meliniomyces bicolor,
  • Meliniomyces variabilis.

As of today, 20 mycorrhizal genomes have been released on the JGI MycoCosm web portal and 10 additional genomes will be publicly released by the end of 2013 (see also our MGI web portal).

In addition to these new genomes/transcriptomes, those of Rhizopogon vinicolor, Gyrodon lividus, Choiromyces venosus, Lactarius quietus, Leccinum scabrum, Thelephora terrestris, Tomentella sublilacina, Tuber aestivum, Tuber magnatum, Rhizoscyphus ericae are expected to be released in 2013.

The genomes of mycorrhizal species released over the last two years, combined with previous studies of the L. bicolor and T. melanosporum genomes, provides a rich foundation for future studies to elucidate the unique features of these ubiquitous plant symbionts. Let’s find the gems in these genetic blueprints!

Photo: Fruiting bodies of the ectomycorrhizal Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).

Effector Wisdom

January 20th, 2013

30th New Phytologist Symposium: Immunomodulation by Plant-associated Organisms

Meeting Report by Amy Huei-Yi Lee, Benjamin Petre, David L. Joly

Many organisms such as bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, nematodes and insects grow, feed and/or reproduce in close association with plant hosts. To establish such intimate interactions, symbionts (either mutualistic or parasitic) secrete effectors into host tissues, which are molecules that modulate plant cell structures and processes (Win et al., 2012a). This last decade, advances in genomics have revealed that symbionts possess dozens to hundreds of effectors. Currently, the field is moving rapidly from effector identification towards effector characterization, which provides a better understanding of how these effectors promote the establishment of a successful relationship with host plants. The 30th New Phytologist Symposium clearly illustrated this theme, as an international panel of c. 150 scientists was brought together to discuss current efforts to decipher effector functions within a wide range of biological systems. The remote location of the meeting in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA, promoted lively discussions between participants during and after the sessions, but also via social networks (the whole conference was covered by a twitter feed, #30NPS tag, available on Read more …

F1000 nominations

December 18th, 2012

Great news!!! A new nomination tool for the 1000 Fungal Genome Project has been released ( to entire research community.  Any JGI registered user can click on MycoCosm tree nodes at (, choose ‘Nominate’ to suggest new fungal species for sequencing and provide DNA/RNA samples to fill the gaps in the Fungal Tree of Life.  The nominations can be made all year around; after review the approved candidates will be added to the list of JGI projects.

The guiding principle for sampling in F1000 is at the end of the project to have 2 representatives from all fungal families or family-level clades. This will require a lot of coordination across several JGI CSP projects, e.g. our Mycorrhizal Genome Initiative, the Forest Soil Metatranscriptome Project and the Saprotrophic Agaricomycotina project, and interactions with the community and systematics experts of given groups. The current nomination will help in selecting the most interesting suggestions from our community.

Photo: Mycena sp. belongs to a large genus of small saprotrophic mushrooms. Mycena galopus will be sequenced within the framework of the Forest Soil Metatranscriptome Project (CSP570) © F Martin

In the limelight …

December 1st, 2012

Forests, Trees, Tree-Microbe Interactions, Symbiosis, Mycorrhizas, Wood Decayers, Carbon Sequestration & Cycling, Global Changes, Genomics … words I have used many times during this amazing week. Starting with an interview by Sophie Bécherel from France Inter on Monday,  followed by a journalist crew’s visiting the lab on Tuesday, then an interview at France Info with Marie-Odile Monchicourt on Wednesday and the INRA Award ceremony on Thursday with the Minister of Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso, and the Minister of the Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll. I haven’t fully realized yet that I was awarded the INRA Laurel Wreath for Excellence for my work on tree-microbe interactions and fungal genomics. I hope this award will help in promoting the research on soil microbial ecology, forest ecosystems and symbiotic interactions.

> François Le Tacon, Annegret Kohler, Claude Murat, Alice Vayssières and I describing our on-going research: View the video (in French)


From Left to Right : Frédéric Dardel (President of the INRA Scientific Advisory Board), David Lowe (journaliste), Michel Pellé (Research Support Award), Olivier Hamant (The Young Researcher Award), Mariane Damois (Research Support Award), Hélène Bergès (The Engineer’s Award), François Houllier (INRA CEO), Stéphane Le Foll (Minister for Agriculture) and myself  (The Laurel Wreath for Excellence). © INRA, B. Nicolas

Mycorrhizal Genomes Medley

November 1st, 2012

In less than two weeks, mycorrhizasts will gather at the INRA in Nancy, to enjoy an exciting workshop on the mycorrhizal genomes. So much novel and unexpected information is emerging from these genome and transcriptome exploration. That’s like exploring a Terra Incognita.

Below is the agenda;

2nd Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative (MGI) Workshop

INRA-Nancy, November 13 & 14, 2012

Tuesday 13 November

  • 9:00 – 9:15     Opening remarks
  • 9:15 – 9:40     Exploring the genome diversity of mycorrhizal fungi. Project status. By F Martin
  • 9:40 – 10:00   The MycoCosm database & Fungal Genomics at JGI. By I Grigoriev
  • 10:00 – 10:30 Annotation and analysis of ECM genomes. By A Kuo
  • 11:00 – 11:20 Identifying transposable elements and other repeated elements in mycorrhizal genomes. By C Murat
  • 11:20 – 11:40 A new approach to infer protein function based on whole genomes and phylogenetic information. By L.G. Nagy
  • 11:40 – 12:00 Analysis of multigene families and duplications in mycorrhizal genomes. By E Morin
  • 12:00 – 12:20 CAZYmes and FOLymes in mycorrhizal genomes. By B Henrissat
  • 12:20 – 12:40 The secretome in mycorrhizal genomes. By C Fourrey
  • 14:00 – 14:20 The MGI transcriptome databases. By E Tisserant
  • 14:20 – 14:40 Identifying symbiosis-regulated genes by RNA-Seq. By A Kohler

14:40 – 15:30 Genome descriptions by species

  • Paxillus involutus & P. rubicundulus By A Tunlid & M Gardes
  • Hebeloma cylindrosporum By G Gay & J Doré
  • Amanita muscaria & A. thiersii By A. Pringle/J Hess

16:00 – 18:00 Genome descriptions by species

  • Laccaria amethystina By F Martin
  • Piloderma croceum By  M Tarkka et al.
  • Suillus luteus By J Colpaert et al.
  • Scleroderma citrinum By A Deveau
  • Pisolithus tinctorius & P. microcarpus By A Kohler
  • Sebacina vermifera By A Zuccaro
  • Tulasnella calospora By M Girlanda

18:00 – End

Wednesday 14 November

9:00 – 11:00   Genome descriptions by species

  • Cenococcum geophilum By M Peter
  • Oidiodendron maius By S Perotto et al.
  • Meliniomyces bicolor, M. variabilis By G Grelet
  • Tuber species By C Murat & R Ballestrini et al.
  • Terfezia boudierii By Y Sitrit

11:00 – 11:30 New Mycorrhizal Genomes Projects

CSP2012 #570 – Metatranscriptomics of Forest Soil Ecosystems: C Murat, M Buée, F Martin

CSP2013 #978 – MGI: Exploring the Symbiotic Transcriptomes: A Kohler, F Buscot, A Tunlid, F Martin

11:30 – 12:30 Discussions: MGI: Papers & Future activities

Photo: One of the sequenced ectomycorrhizal basidiomycete, the Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina) (© F Martin)

A Putative Strigolactone Receptor

September 12th, 2012

Strigolactones are carotenoid-derived lactones involved in root development, arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, branching and leaf senescence. These plant hormones are synthesized in the roots and transported acropetally to modulate axillary bud outgrowth (i.e., branching). In Current Biology Online NowCyril Hamiaux et al. have identified the DAD2 gene from petunia and present evidence for its roles in strigolactone perception and signaling. Their main findings are as follows:

  • DAD2 gene, identified by transposon tagging, encodes an α/β hydrolase fold protein,
  • DAD2 acts in the shoot; mutants are insensitive to strigolactones,
  • DAD2 crystal structure shows an internal cavity capable of binding strigolactones,
  • DAD2 can hydrolyze the strigolactone GR24.
  • These observations suggest that DAD2 acts to bind the mobile strigolactone signal and then interacts with PhMAX2A during catalysis to initiate an SCF-mediated signal transduction pathway.

    Figure: © Current Biology.

    Exploring the Mycorrhizal Genomes

    September 9th, 2012


    I hope you are wrapping up a good summer. I’m touching base to update you on our Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative (MGI).

    The list of taxa of mycorrhizal fungi for the first series of analyses aiming to identify symbiotic traits has now been “frozen”. Thanks to Igor Grigoriev’s JGI team, this list includes an outstanding series of annotated genomes and transcriptomes from ectomycorrhizal, ericoid and orchid symbionts:

    • Amanita muscaria Koide
    • Hebeloma cylindrosporum h7  (v2.0),
    • Laccaria bicolor (v2.0),
    • Oidiodendron maius Zn,
    • Paxillus involutus,
    • Paxillus rubicundulus,
    • Piloderma croceum F 1598,
    • Pisolithus microcarpus 441,
    • Pisolithus tinctorius 270,
    • Scleroderma citrinum FougA,
    • Sebacina vermifera MAFF 305830,
    • Suillus luteus UH-Slu-Lm8-n1,
    • Tulasnella calospora AL13/4D,

    In addition, the following available transcriptomes will also be mined for symbiotic-related features:

    • Cenococcum geophilum
    • Cortinarius glaucopus,
    • Laccaria amethystina 08-1,
    • Lactarius quietus,
    • Meliniomyces bicolor,
    • Meliniomyces variabilis, and
    • Tricholoma matsutake 945.

    Finally, we will add the unpublished genomes of five saprotrophic agaricomycotina (including leaf-litter species) that we will use for identifying potential common genomic features in litter-borne and mycorrhizal fungi:

    • Jaapia argillacea MUCL-33604,
    • Hydnomerulium pinastri MD-312,
    • Plicaturopsis crispa FD-325 SS-3,
    • Hypholoma sublateritium FD-334 SS-4, and
    • Gymnopus luxurians FD-317 M1

    JGI has (or will soon) publicly released the web portals with the annotation for the above-mentioned fungal species. Visit the JGI Mycocosm database. In addition, we have released web sites for the corresponding transcriptome annotation at the Mycorhiza Genomics Initiative portal [restricted].

    To make good use of this tremendous genomic resource, we are organizing the 2nd MGI Workshop at the INRA-Nancy center in Champenoux (France), on November 13-14, 2012. The aim of the workshop is to bring together the consortium teams for discussing our findings. The format of the workshop will be roughly equally split between informal presentations summarizing the current findings and brainstorming about how to take advantage of the genome sequences to inform our understanding of symbiosis and fungal biology.

    On the following days, we will organize a New Phytologist Workshop entitled ‘ Bridging Mycorrhizal Genomics, Metagenomics & Forest Ecology‘. The workshop will also take place at INRA-Nancy over two days (Thursday 15 & Friday 16 November). The aim is to bring together a small group of MGI PI’s, fungal biologists and ecologists (20-25 attendees) to explore the future use of mycorrhizal genomes in order to both maximize the efficacy with which the community utilizes these technological breakthroughs in biology, ecology, phylogenetics, and forestry.

    Photo: Larch Bolete (Suillus grevellei) (Boletales), a close relative of the sequenced slippery Jack (Suillus luteus) (© F Martin).


    August 9th, 2012

    This Summer, I’m devoting my free time to write a book on Fungi/Mushrooms (Champignons in french) for the Editions Quae: “200 Clès pour comprendre les champignons” (Mushrooms Facts: 200 Questions & Answers). Mushrooms possess considerable mystique and they have been the subject of numerous papers, accounts and books, and I’m browsing the web to search for documents on these fascinating organisms … and they are great gems, including superbe paintings as follows:

    Image from Meyers Blitz-Lexikon ‘Die Schnellauskunft für jedermann in Wort und Bild‘ © Wikimedia Commons

    8th JGI Users Meeting

    August 2nd, 2012

    Aboveground-belowground interactions

    August 1st, 2012

    The British Ecological Society, the Biochemical Society and the Society for Experimental Biology are organising a meeting entitled ‘Aboveground-belowground interactions: technologies and new approaches’, which is being held on 8-10 Oct 2012 in London.

    The aim of the symposium is to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration by bringing together existing technology users and developers (e.g. biochemists, geneticists, bioinformaticists) who are interested in applying their skills to address research questions at the whole organism and ecological scales with above-belowground researchers working at biochemical, ecological, physiological, and molecular scales who have a desire to learn and apply new research technologies.

    July 18th, 2012

    JGI Spring 2012 Primer

    May 29th, 2012

    The Spring 2012 edition of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) newsletter The Primer is now available for download:
    and features highlights from the DOE JGI Genomics of Energy & Environment Meeting #7.

    Videos of the talks from Meeting #7 are posted here:

    Be sure to Save the Date for meeting #8 the week of March 25-29, 2013.