Home • Mucor lusitanicus CBS277.49 v3.0
Scanning electron microscope image of Mucor lusitanicus sporangiophores. White bar represents 1 um (courtesy of Carlos Lax).
Scanning electron microscope image of Mucor lusitanicus sporangiophores. White bar represents 1 um (courtesy of Carlos Lax).

Mucor lusitanicus is an oleaginous fungus belonging to the Mucoromycota phylum, which includes several species that accumulate low- and high-value lipids. Some Mucoromycota species are being used for the commercial production of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and others, like M. lusitanicus, have been considered as potential alternative sources for biodiesel production. Optimization of lipid production requires the generation of engineered strains with new properties ranging from efficient use of nutrients to the production of specific lipid of commercial interest.

However, the biology of Mucoromycota, like other early-diverging fungal lineages, is poorly characterized because few species are amenable for genetic manipulation. M. lusitanicus is an early-diverging fungus with the broadest molecular tool repertoire to manipulate its genome and serves as a model to dissect the underlying molecular mechanisms regulating dimorphism, responses to light, gene silencing (RNAi), pathogenesis, antifungal resistance, and lipid biosynthesis. The tractability of M. lusitanicus also allowed the first characterization the centromeres of an early-diverging fungus. These centromeres show a structure never described in fungi because they combine features of point and regional centromeres with a conserved, short DNA motif flanked by large stretches of retrotransposons (Navarro-Mendoza et al., 2019). High-quality genome sequences of M. lusitanicus will further facilitate characterization of M. lusitanicus centromeres and the associated kinetochores leading to important insights into the mechanism of centromere evolution.

The importance of CBS277.49 strain of M. lusitanicus (Corrochano et al., 2016) stems from the fact that molecular genetics of this fungus has been developed on either this strain or its derivates, which are used for all the laboratories studying M. lusitanicus. Therefore, the availability of a high-quality CBS277.49 genome sequence is essential to continue gaining knowledge about the physiology, development, and genetics of M. lusitanicus. This information will contribute not only to better understanding of this fungus, but also to the understanding of early-diverging fungal biology in general. A common feature of these basal fungal lineages is the presence of high levels of N6-adenine DNA methylation (6mA) in contrast to most eukaryotes, including higher eukaryotes (Mondo et al., 2017). This epigenetic mark was proposed to regulate gene expression in these fungi, but causal evidence is absent. The genome sequence of CBS277.49 and its molecular genetic toolbox are the foundations to determine the role 6mA in gene expression.


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Navarro-Mendoza MI, Pérez-Arques C, Panchal S, Nicolás FE, Mondo SJ, Ganguly P, Pangilinan J, Grigoriev IV, Heitman J, Sanyal K, Garre V. Early Diverging Fungus Mucor circinelloides Lacks Centromeric Histone CENP-A and Displays a Mosaic of Point and Regional Centromeres. Curr Biol. 2019 Nov 18;29(22):3791-3802.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.024

Mondo SJ, Dannebaum RO, Kuo RC, Louie KB, Bewick AJ, LaButti K, Haridas S, Kuo A, Salamov A, Ahrendt SR, Lau R, Bowen BP, Lipzen A, Sullivan W, Andreopoulos BB, Clum A, Lindquist E, Daum C, Northen TR, Kunde-Ramamoorthy G, Schmitz RJ, Gryganskyi A, Culley D, Magnuson J, James TY, O'Malley MA, Stajich JE, Spatafora JW, Visel A, Grigoriev IV. Widespread adenine N6-methylation of active genes in fungi. Nature Genetics, 2017 June; 49(6), 964–968. https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.3859