Functional genomics of fungal morphogenesis


fun with fungi

Project group "Functional genomics of fungal morphogenesis" (principal investigator: Minou Nowrousian) at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Botany at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Filamentous fungi grow in form of hyphae (elongated, branched cell filaments). They can aggregate to form complex structures, e.g. fruiting bodies in which spores are formed. We are interested in the genetic basis of these differentiation processes. To analyze how fruiting body formation is regulated at the molecular level, we use mutant strains that are blocked at early stages of development and compare gene expression in the mutants to that of the wild type using microarray analyses, a combination of laser microdissection and RNA-seq, and quantitative real time PCR. Additionally, we compare gene expression in several fungal species to identify expression patterns that are evolutionary conserved (comparative functional genomics). Genes with similar regulation will help to define a core group of genes involved in fungal fruiting body development. More details about these projects can be found on the projects page or in several publications.

Latest results from our projects:

We have analyzed the functions of the two developmental genes asf1 and pro44 in Sordaria macrospora using RNA-seq, MNase-seq, BS-seq, fluorescence microscopy and protein-protein interaction techniques. Our results show that even though both genes are required at the same stage of fruiting body development, they regulate different aspects of sexual development. While asf1 acts as a suppressor of weakly expressed genes during morphogenesis, transcriptome analysis of gene expression in young fruiting bodies showed that pro44 is required for correct expression of genes involved in extracellular metabolism. Deletion of the putative transcription factor gene asm2, which is downregulated in young fruiting bodies of the pro44 mutant, results in defects during ascospore maturation.

In a collaboration organized by the lab of Francis Martin at the INRA, Nancy, the genomes and transcriptomes of mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal Pezizomycete species were analyzed to learn more about the the evolution of the truffle life style.


Schumacher DI, Lütkenhaus R, Altegoer F, Teichert I, Kück U, Nowrousian M (2018) The transcription factor PRO44 and the histone chaperone ASF1 regulate distinct aspects of multicellular development in the filamentous fungus Sordaria macrospora. BMC Genetics 19: 112 Paper at BMC Genetics

Murat C, Payen T, Noel B, Kuo A, Morin E, Chen J, Kohler A, Krizsán K, Balestrini R, Da Silva C, Montanini B, Hainaut M, Levati E, Barry KW, Belfiori B, Cichocki N, Clum A, Dockter RB, Fauchery L, Guy J, Iotti M, Le Tacon F, Lindquist EA, Lipzen A, Malagnac F, Mello A, Molinier V, Miyauchi S, Poulain J, Riccioni C, Rubini A, Sitrit Y, Splivallo R, Traeger S, Wang M, Žifcáková L, Wipf D, Zambonelli A, Paolocci F, Nowrousian M, Ottonello S, Baldrian P, Spatafora JW, Henrissat B, Nagy LG, Aury J-M, Wincker P, Grigoriev IV, Bonfante P, Martin FM (2018) Pezizomycetes genomes reveal the molecular basis of ectomycorrhizal truffle lifestyle. Nat Ecol Evol 2: 1956-1965 Paper at Nature Ecology & Evolution