The term Pisolithus is derived from Greek, where piso means pea-shaped and lithos means stone. The fungal species under this category get their name from the pea-shaped spore capsules that break down to disperse spores, and thrive in temperate regions as well as in less-than-ideal conditions such as high levels of heavy metals, highly acidic soils and drought. They form associations with a wide range of woody plants, including trees, which act as carbon sinks and could be feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels. Interactions with mycorrhizal fungi help trees access scarce nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate.
By sequencing the genomes of fungi related to others previously sequenced by the DOE JGI, researchers hope to better understand the symbiosis specificity of the fungi, and apply the information to develop more efficient carbon sequestration as well as enhanced use of plants to clean up environmental contaminants through phytoremediation. The two fungi being studied are P. tinctorius, which interacts with pines and is commonly known as dyemaker’s puffball because of its utility in dyeing wool, and P. microcarpus, which typically colonizes pines and eucalyptus. Sequencing these fungi will lead to the development of a genome database that researchers can use to do comparative analyses with other fungi previously sequenced such as Serpula lacrymans and Rhizopogon salbrosus.
Principal Investigators: Francis Martin, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Program: CSP 2010