Young Research Group

Genetics and Genomics of Fungi

Agrocybe aegerita as a model system for fruiting body development and a treasure trove for bioactive natural products’

Fungi are almost ubiquitous microorganisms with a great potential for various applications in medicine, biotechnology and food production. Being exposed to lots of antagonists in nature, fruiting body-forming fungi – mushrooms – mainly rely on chemical defense against these.  To gain insights into the genetics triggering fruiting and defense, as well as into the bioactive compound arsenal in basidiomycete mushrooms, we use functional genetics, transcription profiling and collaborative analytical chemistry approaches. Beyond basic research, our findings have potential to increase yield and quality in edible mushroom production, and to extend the spectrum of available bioactive metabolites, e.g. for biocontrol via biopesticides.
We have chosen the Black Poplar Mushroom Cyclocybe (Agrocybe) aegerita as a model system. Cyclocybe aegerita is a commercially grown top-quality edible basidiomycete mushroom exhibiting the rare feature of monokaryotic fruiting sensu stricto (mushroom formation without mating) and an interesting repertoire of bioactive metabolites.
Working together with colleagues from our research field, and combining a wide range of classical microbiology/mycology methodology, genomics, expression profiling and molecular genetics techniques, our group has not only histologically analyzed dikaryotic and monokaryotic fruiting of C. aegerita, but also accomplished genome sequencing and enabled functional genetics approaches to this mushroom. In addition, in interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches, we have started to tap the biotechnological potential of C. aegerita and other basidiomycetes as a treasure trove for new and novel bioactive metabolites with potential applications in medicine and agriculture, e.g. for pest and disease (vector) control.


Patents (pending): Hennicke, F., Künzler, M., Tayyrov, A., Lüthy, P.: Ageritin as bioinsecticide and methods of generating and using it. European Patent application no. EP18215370.0 (not yet published), filed on December 21st 2018.

Combinatorial creation of structural diversity for novel high-value compounds:

Selected Publications

Herzog R, Solovyeva I, Bölker M, Lugones LG, Hennicke F. 2019. Exploring molecular tools for transformation and gene expression in the cultivated edible mushroom Agrocybe aegerita. Molecular Genetics and Genomics, doi: 10.1007/s00438-018-01528-6.

Surup F, Hennicke F, Sella N, Stroot M, Bernecker S, Pfütze S, Stadler M, Rühl M. 2019. New terpenoids from the fermentation broth of the edible mushroom Cyclocybe aegerita. Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 15: 1000-1007, doi:10.3762/bjoc.15.98

Gupta DK, Rühl M, Mishra B, Kleofas V, Hofrichter M, Herzog R, Pecyna MJ, Sharma R, Kellner H, Hennicke F*, Thines, M*. 2018. The genome sequence of the commercially cultivated mushroom Agrocybe aegerita reveals a conserved repertoire of fruiting-related genes and a versatile suite of biopolymer-degrading enzymes. BMC Genomics 19: 48; doi: 10.1186/s12864-017-4430-y [*corresponding authors]

Herzog R, Solovyeva I, Rühl M, Thines M, Hennicke F. 2016. Dikaryotic fruiting body development in a single dikaryon of Agrocybe aegerita and the spectrum of monokaryotic fruiting phenotypes in its monokaryotic progeny. Mycological Progress 15: 947-957, doi: 10.1007/s11557-016-1221-9

Hennicke F, Cheikh-Ali Z, Liebisch T, Maciá-Vicente JG, Bode, HB, Piepenbring P. 2016. Distinguishing commercially grown Ganoderma lucidum from Ganoderma lingzhi from Europe and East Asia on the basis of morphology, molecular phylogeny, and triterpenic acid profiles. Phytochemistry 127: 29-37, doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2016.03.012