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Photo by Daniel L. Lindner and Beatriz Ortiz-Santana at USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station

The Genome Sequence of the Brown Rot Fungus Wolfiporia cocos

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 Researchers who wish to publish analyses using data from unpublished SAP genomes are respectfully required to contact the PI and JGI to avoid potential conflicts on data use and coordinate other publications with the SAP master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).

Wolfiporia cocos (F.A. Wolf) Ryvarden & Gilb. is a Basidiomycete widely distributed around the world with references from East Asia, Australia, North America and Africa. The species parasitizes the roots of conifers such as Picea, Tsuga and Pinus and also hardwood trees such as Citrus, Eucalyptus, Quercus and Fagus. The basidiocarps of the species are formed on the dead host trees, while large sclerotia are formed close to the roots of the host. The Native Americans have been collecting the sclerotia as a food source, while in East Asia they are used in traditional medicine. Wolfiporia cocos causes a brown type rot in the infected roots and recent phylogenetic studies place the species close to Phaeolus schweinitzii, another pathogen of conifer trees. Both species are nested in the Antrodia clade, a major clade of the Polyporales, which consists mainly of other well-known brown rot species such as Laetiporus sulphureus, Postia placenta and Fomitopsis pinicola. The brown rot biochemistry of the species is not extensively studied but several studies have shown that the species produces large amounts of oxalic acid in liquid cultures, reducing significantly the pH. The oxalic acid production is a common characteristic of many brown rot species, such as Postia placenta and it seems to have an important role on wood degradation. Other studies have shown that the species can efficiently degrade copper treated wood, indicating the tolerance of the species to increased copper levels. The genome of Wolfiporia cocos will increase our knowledge about the brown rot biochemistry of the Antrodia clade and it is a good candidate for genomic comparative studies with the already sequenced genome of Postia placenta. Furthermore the access to the genomic data will create new opportunities for studies on the metal resistance of the species. Additionally different studies have focused on medically important compounds of the species with potential antitumor activity or anti-inflammatory activity. The genome of Wolfiporia cocos can promote further the studies on the biosynthetic ways of medically interesting compounds and elucidate the ways for their commercial production.

Genome Reference(s)