Biodiversity 2 min

Expanding to survive: extensive genomes facilitate decay fungi's adaptation to climate change

PRESS RELEASE - Bonnet mushrooms (Mycena spp.) are common fungal decayers that inhabit forests and grasslands. An international research consortium comprising scientists from INRAE, the University of Oslo, Université de Lorraine, and the Joint Genome Institute in the United States revealed that they possess huge genomes that enable them to thrive in various environments, including the Arctic. The findings of this study, as reported in the journal Cell Genomics, suggest that a striking increase in the size of large gene families plays a crucial role in enhancing the ecological adaptability of these fungal decayers, thus providing them with a competitive edge in the face of accelerating global changes.

Published on 28 June 2024

illustration Expanding to survive: extensive genomes facilitate decay fungi's adaptation to climate change
© INRAE - Francis Martin

Bonnet mushrooms (Mycena1spp.) comprise over 400 species, and are found in a wide range of environments across all continents. They play a crucial ecological role in the decomposition of soil organic matter in forests and grasslands. Although widely considered solely as decayers, certain species can colonize plant roots and behave as endophytes2, symbionts, or parasites, demonstrating the versatility of these fungi, which can adopt several lifestyles. Although the exact genetic mechanisms that enable these exceptional adaptive traits are not yet fully understood, bonnet mushrooms have the capacity to flourish in various environments. As natural habitats and old-growth forests continue to decrease and tree plantations and climate change increase, Mycena's genetic and ecological resilience may provide valuable insights into how organisms can adjust to the rapidly changing world. Scientists have examined their genomes to trace evolutionary pathways that have enabled bonnet mushrooms to diversify and evolve over time.

The international consortium sequenced and analyzed the genomes of 24 Mycena species, including litter decayer generalists, wood decayer generalists, grass litter decayer generalists, broadleaf wood decayers, broadleaf decayers, and coniferous litter decayers. Three species were obtained from Arctic habitats. This comparative genomic study revealed that Mycena exhibited striking genomic expansions impacting gene families related to the degradation of soil organic matter and root colonization. This genome expansion can be traced back to the incorporation and preservation of numerous genes from other fungi by horizontal gene transfer, despite the 'cost' of resources and the energy needed to replicate a large genome. Remarkably, the genomes of the bonnet mushrooms sampled in Arctic region were between two and eight times larger than those inhabiting temperate zones. A similar pattern was previously observed in Arctic plants. These genomic traits suggest that massive genomes encoding extensive families of genes facilitate the ecological adaptability of such decomposer fungi, enabling them to adopt multiple lifestyles and thrive in various environments, which is a particularly valuable asset in extreme settings such as the Arctic.

 

[1] Mushrooms of the genus Mycena, so-called bonnet mushrooms, are basidiomycetes of the Agaricales order.

[2] Organisms that can live and reproduce in the intercellular spaces and/or certain cells of a plant.

REfErence

Harder C.B., Miyauchi S. et al. (2024). Extreme overall mushroom genome expansion in Mycena s.s. irrespective of plant hosts or substrate specializations. Cell Genomics DOI : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xgen.2024.100586

 

INRAE press contact

Scientific contact

Francis Martin INRAE/ Université de Lorraine Joint Research Unit on Tree-Microbe Interactions (IAM)

Centre

Division

Learn more

Biodiversity

Fungi provide functional stability in forests

PRESS RELEASE - French and Chinese scientists have made surprising discoveries about the crucial roles of soil fungi in forest ecosystems. This work arose from an international collaboration between researchers at INRAE, the University of Lorraine, the University of Aix-Marseille, Beijing Forestry University, the Kunming Institute of Botany, and the Yunnan Key Laboratory for Fungal Diversity and Green Development. Published in Microbiome on October 2, this groundbreaking research offers profound insights into the complex interactions between soil fungi and trees. Its findings will improve our understanding of biodiversity and carbon sequestration dynamics in forests.

02 October 2023

Biodiversity

Symbiosis between trees and fungi: discovery of the role of epigenetics

PRESS RELEASE - Tree roots commonly associate with fungi to exchange nutrients and improve their adaptation to changes in their environment. However, the biological processes at work in this mutually beneficial relationship (namely ectomycorrhizae) have not yet been fully explored. Now, two research teams from INRAE-University of Lorraine and the University of Orléans have demonstrated for the first time that the establishment of the symbiotic relationship between the model tree poplar and an ectomycorrhizal fungus is controlled by epigenetics. This constitutes a major advance in our understanding of the mechanisms required to establish ectomycorrhizal symbiosis, an essential contributor to the healthy growth and performance of trees and forests. The results were published in the New Phytologist on 20th February.

03 February 2023

Agroecology

Francis Martin, the symbiosis between fungi and trees

Since 1981, Francis Martin has been investigating symbiotic mechanisms between fungi and trees. A pioneer in his field and dedicated team leader, he guides his research unit and networks in cutting-edge genomics and metagenomics projects that are globally recognised benchmarks today. Thanks to findings of both local and international significance, and his creativity and drive, Martin is seen as a science forerunner of the highest calibre. He has advanced and shaped our understanding of innovative and promising fields of study.

05 December 2019