Home • Mortierella alpina KOD1005 v1.0
Growth of Mortierella alpina KOD1005 on either PDA (top) or MEA (bottom), with bacteria absent (left) or present (right). Image by Abby Bryson (@ae_bryson on Twitter).
Growth of Mortierella alpina KOD1005 on either PDA (top) or MEA (bottom), with bacteria absent (left) or present (right). Image by Abby Bryson (@ae_bryson on Twitter).

Within the framework of the ‘Comparative genomics of early diverging terrestrial fungi and their bacterial endosymbionts’ CSP project, we are exploring interactions and evolutionary histories of early diverging lineages of terrestrial fungi and their endobacteria (Uehling et al. 2017). Towards this goal, we are sequencing metagenomes and metatranscriptomes of a diverse panel of fungi in Mucoromycota that host endohyphal bacteria.

Mortierella is a genus of fungi within Mucoromycota, formally classified as zygomycetes (Vandepol et al. 2020).  Mortierella are distributed globally and are frequently isolated and detected in soils and plant rhizospheres. Many species grow rapidly, in part owing to their coenocytic mycelium that has occasional septa and frequent anastomosis, and some isolates are known to contain endohyphal bacteria (Desirò et al. 2018).

The species sequenced here, Mortierella alpina (isolate KOD1005), is a valuable industrial fungus, particularly for biosynthesis of arachidonic acid (Eroshin et al. 2000). As a plant symbiont, M. alpina has been observed to promote stress tolerance, likely via producing arachidonic acid (Wani et al. 2017). The spores of this species and related species are known to nucleate ice crystals, probably via a surface protein (Fröhlich-Nowoisky et al. 2015). This isolate (KOD1005) was isolated in Illinois from mud on a boot.


Eroshin, V. K., A. D. Satroutdinov, E. G. Dedyukhina, and T. I. Chistyakova. 2000. “Arachidonic Acid Production by Mortierella Alpina with Growth-Coupled Lipid Synthesis.” Process Biochemistry 35 (10): 1171–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0032-9592(00)00151-5.

Fröhlich-Nowoisky, J., T. C.J. Hill, B. G. Pummer, P. Yordanova, G. D. Franc, and U. Pöschl. 2015. “Ice Nucleation Activity in the Widespread Soil Fungus Mortierella alpina.” Biogeosciences 12 (4): 1057–71. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-12-1057-2015.

Wani, Zahoor Ahmed, Amit Kumar, Phalisteen Sultan, Kushal Bindu, Syed Riyaz-Ul-Hassan, and Nasheeman Ashraf. 2017. “Mortierella alpina CS10E4, an Oleaginous Fungal Endophyte of Crocus sativus L. Enhances Apocarotenoid Biosynthesis and Stress Tolerance in the Host Plant.” Scientific Reports 7 (1): 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-08974-z.

Vandepol, Natalie, Julian Liber, Alessandro Desirò, Hyunsoo Na, Megan Kennedy, Kerrie Barry, Igor V. Grigoriev, et al. 2020. “Resolving the Mortierellaceae Phylogeny through Synthesis of Multi-Gene Phylogenetics and Phylogenomics.” Fungal Diversity, 1–23.