Within the framework of the JGI Mycorrhizal Genomics Initiative, we are sequencing a phylogenetically and ecologically diverse suite of mycorrhizal fungi (Basidiomycota and Ascomycota), which include the major clades of symbiotic species associating with trees and woody shrubs. Analyses of these genomes will provide insight into the diversity of mechanisms for the mycorrhizal symbiosis, including ericoid-, orchid- and ectomycorrhizal associations.
Laccaria Berkeley and Broome is a cosmopolitan genus of mushrooms (Agaricales, Hydnangiaceae) collected frequently throughout North America and Eurasia. Its taxa make up a sizeable part of the basidiomycetous ectomycorrhizal species and have been reported from every continent except Antarctica.
Laccaria amethystina (Bull. ex Mérat) Murr, commonly known as the Amethyst Deceiver, is ectomycorrhizal, forming symbiotic associations with hardwoods or conifers. It produces deep purple, edible mushrooms, that grow among moss and leaf litter under deciduous as well as coniferous trees.
The comparison of the genomes of Laccaria bicolor and L. amethystina which are closely related and split from the outgroup species, L. laccata and L. proxima, a few million years ago, will provide insights on the various types of genomic variations in this species. The goal here is to investigate the evolution of symbiosis-related genes identified in L. bicolor. The main impact of this resource will be the fostering of experimental population genomic approaches to the systematic identification of adaptations. This would allow mycologists to extract the most information about adaptive mutations that are most likely to be important to symbiosis in a well-investigated symbiotic clade. Therefore, evolutionary genomics of Laccaria would have applied implications because of the ecological and potential economic importance of many of its taxa in addition to adding to our basic knowledge of fungi which form symbiosis.