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Home • Neurospora intermedia FGSC 2613 v1.0
Neurospora intermedia FGSC #2613 growing in the lab.
Neurospora intermedia FGSC #2613 growing in the lab.
Image Credit: Vayu Maini Rekdal

Transformation of cellulose-rich biomass is a key step in the generation of biofuels. By understanding how fungi transform such biomass in nature, we can uncover new industrially relevant enzymes and processes for biofuels production. Neurospora intermedia FGSC #2613 is a promising model system for understanding transformation of cellulose-rich biomass as this fungus has been domesticated by humans for this purpose. This strain was isolated on the island of Java in Indonesia, where it has been traditionally used for centuries in the production of oncom, a human food used as a protein-rich meat substitute among the local population. Oncom production involves the intentional inoculation of N. intermedia with soy pulp, a cellulose-rich waste stream that originates from soymilk production. During the process, N. intermedia degrades cellulose, which makes up approximately 74% of the material (a similar level to other agricultural residues considered for biofuels production). The previous batch of Oncom is always used as an inoculation for a new batch, suggesting N. intermedia has likely been domesticated and adapted to the cellulose-rich biomass substrate.

The N. intermedia FGSC #2613 genome will enable both fundamental and applied research and is relevant to diverse members of the global research community. First, the genome sequence would shed light on the enzymes and metabolic pathways relevant transformation of cellulose-rich substrates at the molecular level. The sequence could be used for transcriptomics studies of N. intermedia growing on various substrates, including food waste and agricultural residue with potential for biofuels production. In addition to biofuels, the availability of a high-quality genome has implications for food production and could be of interest to researchers working to address challenges in the food system (hunger, malnutrition, sustainability). Second, the genome sequence could reveal signals of domestication. Neurospora isolates such as N. intermedia are usually found growing on remnants of burned vegetation in South-East Asia. N. intermedia FGSC #2613 represents an ecologically novel isolate. The genome sequence of domesticated N. intermedia that are traditionally on cellulose-rich biomass could be compared to the genomes of wild isolates to investigate genes under selection during the domestication process. Finally, the sequence would add to our understanding of fungal diversity. Members of the Neurospora genus are models for both fungal and eukaryotic biology, but high-quality genomes are not available for all members of this genus. N. intermedia FGSC #2613 genome will highlight additional diversity within this genus and among fungi in general, thus contributing to the goals of the 1000 genomes project.