May 23, 2017
News Release

Fungal Find Offers New Gateway into Bioenergy Research


Linderina pennispora, a fungus whose genome was analyzed in the Nature Genetics study. 

Scientists have found a genetic modification in fungi that is more common than has been thought, offering scientists a new tool as they explore the use of fungi to convert biomass to fuels, chemicals and enzymes.

Jon Magnuson and David Culley of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are two of more than two dozen authors from 10 institutions who published the results May 8 in Nature Genetics. The study was led by scientists at the Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

The team studied a specific type of DNA modification known as 6mA in 16 different fungal genomes from divergent lineages. Scientists found higher levels of the modification than they expected, including in fungi that date from the earliest fungi more than a billion years ago. The modification is most prevalent in highly active genes that are turned on. Such a widespread genomic function is welcome news to scientists who use fungi to create products useful in research related to bioenergy and the environment.

In the past few years the PNNL fungal biotechnology group has been involved in the identification, growth and sequencing of many of the fungi being sequenced as part of the JGI 1000 Fungal Genomes Project, including many of the species used in this study.

More information is in the news release from JGI.

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