Neurospora tetrasperma FGSC 2508 mat A v2.0
Photo of Neurospora tetrasperma FGSC 2508 mat A v2.0
Photo credit: Namboori B. Raju, Stanford University. Neurospora tetrasperma . A rosette of maturing asci from a cross of histone H1-GFP x wild type. Asci are mostly four-spored and the ascospores are heterokaryotic for hH1-GFP. Histone H1 is a chromosomal protein, which is synthesized in the cytoplasm and incorporated into all nuclei in the shared cytoplasm. Thus all four nuclei (two hH1-GFP and two non hH1-GFP) of each ascospore glow equally bright.

Neurospora is the premier model for filamentous fungi. Additional Neurospora sequenced genomes, combined with the existing N. crassa and more distant outgroup species sequences, will create an environment for genomic comparative biology that will be unsurpassed for studies of genome evolution. N. tetrasperma, although closely related to N. crassa, is the only Neurospora species that employs a mating strategy that combines selfing with occasional outbreeding using a novel genetic system,.   This system, known as pseudohomothallism is novel to fungi. N. tetrasperma provides a model for studying both the genomic and evolutionary consequences of asexuality and inbreeding, two mating strategies that are widespread among plant pathogenic and animal pathogenic fungi. These consequences cannot be studied in obligate outbreeders alone, such as, N. crassa and other popular genetic models.

Among the many new research area that will be enabled by access to multiple Neurospora sequences include adaptation of fungi that interact with forest trees; genome defense against mobile elements; evolution and genetic consequences of the widespread, but unique, fungal mating strategy pseudohomothallism. Forming a strong foundation for new research in evolutionary biology and ecology stands a large and strong genetic community with an NSF funded Fungal Genetics Stock Center containing thousands of mutants and more than 5000 wild type isolates from global collecting efforts.

Neurospora also offers numerous advantages for basic research in genetics, molecular, cell, and evolutionary biology. The genetic model species Neurospora crassa has a sequenced 43 mb genome that contains 10,620 predicted genes - a complexity comparable to that of animal model systems such as Drosophila. Not itself a pathogen, it has long served as the model of choice for the estimated 1.5 million filamentous fungal species, which include important animal and plant pathogens. In terms of agroforestry, diseases of plants caused by filamentous fungi are guaranteed to become increasingly important and, therefore, will adversely affecting biorefining. On the positive side, filamentous fungi also are essential to the decay of plant material for the production of biofuels and bioproducts, particularly ethanol and organic acids.

Genome Reference(s)

Additional reference:

Jacobson, D. J., Raju, N. B., and Freitag, M. 2008. Evidence for the absence of meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA in Neurospora tetrasperma. Fungal Genetics and Biology 45:351-362.