The undeniable power of plants, and the lessons they can teach us, are why the JGI took on the Open Green Genome Initiative in 2018 as part of its Community Science Program. A recent paper published in Nature Communications on Ceratopteris richardii marks the first published manuscript of a genome sequence generated through the OGG and solves an ongoing mystery in ferns.
As part of an international team, researchers at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) helped sequence and analyze the genomes of four fungi of the genus Armillaria. Often called the humongous fungus, Armillaria form some of the planet’s largest living organisms. They are also among the most devastating fungal pathogens, capable of breaking down all of the components of a host plant’s cell walls.
Fungi, particularly those found in the digestive tracts of ruminant herbivores such as cattle, sheep, and goats, are very good at overcoming the resistance of plant cell walls to degradation—a major hurdle in the quest to produce sustainable fuels and chemicals from bioenergy feedstocks. Now, an international group of researchers has identified protein scaffolds in anaerobic gut fungi that provide docking sites for various enzymes, keeping them in place so that they can work together more effectively. As reported in the May 26 issue of Nature Microbiology, the structures are analogous to cellulosome complexes in anerobic bacteria, but this is the first time they have been found in fungi.