Proteins enable crop-infecting fungi to ‘smell’ food

A new paper has been published by the Katherine Borkovich lab in the Microbiology and Plant Pathology Department titled "Heterotrimeric G-Protein Signaling Is Required for Cellulose Degradation in Neurospora crassa". To learn more about the paper and study see the excerpt from the UCR News Article below or click here to read the published study.

From the UCR News Article by Jules Berstein:

New research shows the same proteins that enable human senses such as smell also allow certain fungi to sense something they can eat.

The UC Riverside study offers new avenues for protecting people from starvation due to pathogenic fungus-induced food shortages. Understanding how fungi sense and digest plants can also help scientists engineer fungal strains that are more efficient at producing biofuels.

Newly published by the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio, the study details how fungi react to cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls. Humans and other animals lack the enzymes to digest cellulose, but fungi can convert it into glucose, a sugar that makes an excellent biofuel feedstock. 

Key to this conversion process are G proteins, which send signals from a cell’s outer membrane into its nucleus. 

“These proteins get information about what’s outside the cell into what is essentially the brain of the cell, the nucleus, which in turn instructs the cell to produce a cocktail of cellulose-digesting enzymes,” said study author and biochemistry doctoral student Logan Collier. 

Let us help you with your search