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Home • Sphaerobolus stellatus v1.0
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Photograph by Thomas J. Volk

This genome was sequenced as a part of the large-scale multi-genome JGI CSP Saprotrophic Agaricomycotina Project (SAP), which focuses on the diversity and evolution of decay mechanisms, organismal phylogenetic relationships, and developmental evolution. A large collaborative effort led by PI of this project, David Hibbett (Clark University) aims for master publication(s) of the SAP data analysis. Researchers who wish to publish analyses using data from unpublished SAP genomes are respectfully required to contact the PI and JGI to avoid potential conflicts on data use and coordinate other publications with the SAP master paper(s).

Sphaerobolus stellatus, commonly known as the "cannon ball fungus", is a saprotroph (decayer) that grows on woody debris and herbivore dung. Sphaerobolus is a member of the Phallomycetidae, which is a morphologically diverse group that also includes coral fungi, stinkhorns, earthstars, and false truffles (Geml et al., 2005; Hibbett et al., 1997; Hosaka et al., 2006). Sphaerobolus produces tiny fruit bodies that violently eject a slimy packet of spores, called a gleba. The biomechanics of this cannon are astonishing: the gleba is discharged at a speed of 10 meters per second (36 km/h) and can travel 6 meters! Sphaerobolus is most commonly encountered on wood chips and bark mulch used in landscaping, sometimes producing huge numbers of fruiting bodies. In such circumstances, Sphaerobolus can become a nuisance, because the darkly pigmented and highly-adhesive glebal masses accumulate on adjacent surfaces, including cars, painted walls, and foliage of ornamental plants. Sphaerobolus is of interest to the DOE because it is able to decompose plant cell wall material, and could be a source of enzymes used in industrial bioconversion processes. The Phallomycetidae is an early-diverging lineage of Agaricomycetes (mushroom-forming fungi), which is not closely related to the best-known model organisms for decay biology (such as Postia placenta and Phanerochaete chrysosporium in the Polyporales, or Pleurotus ostreatus in the Agaricales). Sphaerobolus is the first member of the Phallomycetidae to be subject to whole genome sequencing, and it is therefore likely to possess novel suites of enzymes for degradation of lignocellulose.

Genome Reference(s)