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Sensing and integration of signals governing cell polarity and tropism in fungi (FUNGIBRAIN)
Start date: Oct 1, 2013, End date: Sep 30, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Cell polarity and directed growth (tropism) are fundamental biological processes. Most fungi are dependent on these processes because they grow as polarised filaments called hyphae, whose growth and developmentare governed by physical and chemical cues from the environment. Such cues include surface-contact, light, nutrients, mating partners, host organisms, or ‘self’ hyphae from within the fungal colony. The capacity to re-orient hyphal tip growth in response to external signals forms the basis of the saprotropic, symbiotic and parasitic lifestyles of fungi. For example, dimorphic transitions and directed hyphal growth are intimately associated with virulence in fungal pathogens. The cellular components that control these morphogenic decisions therefore play key roles in fungal adaptation to environmental change and the invasion stages of infectious growth.Extensive background work has led to the emerging concept of a “fungal brain”, which integrates exogenous and endogenous signals to determine the shape and direction of hyphae, both at the levels of the individual cell and of the fungal colony. However, in spite of the universal importance of these processes, surprisingly little is known about their genetic and cellular bases. FUNGIBRAIN brings together pioneering expertise from fungal model organisms such as baker’s yeast, fission yeast and the filamentous yeast Ashbya gossypii, and world-class teams working on filamentous fungi, including important human or plant pathogens (Aspergillus fumigatus, Candida albicans, Fusarium oxysporum and Ustilago maydis). The project integrates genetic, biochemical, biophysical, cell biology and systems biology approaches to define common patterns of signal integration and hyphal tropism. Early evidence suggests that these cellular targets are conserved across a broad range of fungal species and thus will have direct and important applications in antifungal treatments and biotechnology."

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