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If you can make plans to head to Spain in October you should consider attending the EMBO conference on Comparative Genomics of Eukaryotic Microorganisms October 17-22 outside of Barcelona. Lots of very interesting speakers and I’ve got the chance to be there to speak about ideas and results using comparative genomics to study evolution of early diverging fungal lineages.
The Tremella mesenterica genome portal is now live at the JGI. The genome is ~28Mb and the JGI annotation group predicted 8,313 genes, a significantly larger number of peptides predicted for C. neoformans (~7000; 18Mb genome) which may represent new and interesting genes or aspects of gene loss in the Cryptococcus yeast lineage.
Tremella is a Basidiomycete jelly fungus and an interesting study system from the perspective of discovery of novel lignin degrading enzymes. It also occupies an interesting phylogenetic position being an outgroup to the human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii. Comparative genomics on this system may also provide insight into the interesting evolution of the large mating-type locus that was formed through various rearrangements resulting in conversion from a tetrapolar to biopolar mating system.
Tremella may also be an important source of understanding wood degradation and how it differs in jelly fungi from the more distantly related Agaricomycotina (mushroom forming). The fungus is reasonably easy to grow in the laboratory and also to collect from nature. It can handle some desiccation to survive during a dry period only to swell up after moisture is available. It is also called Witch’s butter and Tom Volk has a summary of its features on his FOTM page. It can often be confused with a phylogenetically distinct jelly fungus named Dacyromyces, usually the differences can be best be determined microscopically. See what kinds of Tremella people have been finding at the Mushroom Observer.
- Fraser et al, PLoS Biology 2004. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020384
- Hseuh et al, PLoS Genetics, 2006. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0020184
- Hseuh et al, Euk Cell, 2008. doi: 10.1128/EC.00271-08