Home • Neurospora discreta FGSC8579 Belen (aka "W683") v2.0
Neurospora discreta. Maturing ascospores of Kirbyville strains showing characteristic ascospore ornamentation
Neurospora discreta. Maturing ascospores of Kirbyville strains showing characteristic ascospore ornamentation (see ref. 1)
Photo credit: Namboori B. Raju, Stanford University.

Neurospora discreta FGSC8579 Belen (aka “W683”)

Neurospora discreta is a filamentous fungus, distantly related to N. crassa (1), representing the deepest divergence in sexual Neurospora species (2, 3). Neurospora discreta is distributed throughout western North America, Europe, and Central Africa and is easily collected after forest fires. Additional complete Neurospora genomes (see Mycocosm group page), combined with existing N. crassa genomes, and genomes from more distant outgroups, have paved the way for deep comparative biology of ascomycete genomes, and N. discreta has quickly become a premier model for fungal population studies.

Filamentous fungi are important in natural environments as degraders of plant and animal biomass, as pathogens of plants and animals, and as producers of natural products that are used as pharmaceuticals. Neurospora has many of the genes important to plant pathogenesis, and it has been used as a model for the study of lignin decay by fungi. The genus Neurospora also holds a central position in the history of genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, as one of the earliest convenient model organisms that helped to decipher the gene to protein relationships of metabolism and gene regulation. Ongoing studies on light regulation, the circadian clock, chromatin and epigenetics, gene regulation, and metabolism continue to yield insights into general eukaryotic biology. Genomes of four strains of the reference species, N. crassa, have been (nearly) completely assembled at JGI, and contain ~42 Mb nuclear genome encoding ~10,000 gene models.


  1. Perkins, D. D., and N. B. Raju, 1986  Neurospora discreta, a new heterothallic species defined by its crossing behavior. Experimental Mycology 10:323-338.
  2. Dettman JR, Jacobson DJ, Turner E, Pringle A, Taylor JW Reproductive isolation and phylogenetic divergence in Neurospora: comparing methods of species recognition in a model eukaryote. Evolution. 2003 Dec;57(12):2721-41. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb01515.x.
  3. Gladieux P, De Bellis F, Hann-Soden C, Svedberg J, Johannesson H, Taylor JW Neurospora from Natural Populations: Population Genomics Insights into the Life History of a Model Microbial Eukaryote  Methods Mol Biol. 2020;2090:313-336. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0199-0_13.