After 40 years of searching for the photoreceptor that controls multiple vital processes in fungi, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have discovered the protein that triggers this phenomenon.
Light regulates several physiological processes in fungi, including their ability to produce spores and the synchronization of their internal biological clocks, but their photoreceptors – receptors that are sensitive to light and are essential for most ongoing processes – were not known until this breakthrough discovery made by UT Southwestern researchers.
In this weeks on-line version of Science, the researchers report that the protein White Collar –1, or WC-1, is the photoreceptor for light responses in fungi, which encompass yeast and mold. Fungi share with bacteria the important ability to break down complex organic substances of almost every type and are essential to the recycling of carbon and other elements in the cycle of life. Fungi are also important as foods and to the fermentation process in the development of substances for industrial and medical importance, including alcohol, antibiotics, other drugs and antitoxins.
Amy Shields | EurekAlert!
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